I am not a patient man. In fact, some would say I get frustrated more easily than most. Hmm. Those people may be right. However, what I lack in patience I make up for in perseverance. This is one of those stories.
James and I hit the upstate NY area of Taghkanic recently, on a property that was part of Founding Father Robert Livingston’s original estate. The home was built circa 1830, so we were excited at the potential finds: colonial coins, flying eagles, Indian head pennies, relics, what else?
We were kindly hosted at the home of friends Kris and Ed (Ed was away on business). They generously allowed us to hunt their land for a full day and a half and provided warm hospitality to boot. Upon arrival, Kris and his dog Newport gave us the overview of the land, a combination of large lawns and forest, including two barns (one old, one new), and their beautiful home atop a hill overlooking a pond. This was going to be good!
We started on the front lawn; James took the high ground near the front entryway and I took the mid-to-low ground of the hill beside their driveway and pond. Right off the bat I got a really solid signal. After a quick dig I pulled out a German Luger toy gun (thanks to Grizzly13 of the TreasureNet.com forums for the ID). It’s in pretty good shape and will shine up nicely after some cleaning.
After that I continued to get great signals but they kept resulting in rusted pieces of sheet metal. Ug. James had unearthed a Matchbox car or two, a few modern coins, and scrap metal like me. We exhausted the front lawn and then regrouped, wondering where the old coins where hiding.
I started to hit a different area of the property and James hit the side and back yards. More junk for me. And what was worse, just 2 inches under the earth was shale, which all day was difficult to chop through. James was pulling out some modern coins from the side yard and some relics, tools mostly, and more junk from the back yard. The worst of it was, with one swipe of the detector, I’d hear 3-5 tones, all different sounds – a tell-tale sign of junk. But that doesn’t mean something good couldn’t be lurking amongst the litter. Though I was digging solid, promising signals, most holes resulted in 3-5 nails, some square, all different sizes. Frustrating. My usual deliberate grid style was out the door and I was simply looking for a less junky area. I wandered over to search between two poles, separated by about 100 feet. I’m guessing there were once used to hang a clothes line, which is usually a great spot to find dropped coins and fallen buttons. I swiped up and down between the two poles and got nothing… not one single tone! Not even junk! What is going on here??
I ended the day frustrated and dejected, with just a few what I thought were decent finds including a curious button. I love finding old buttons, but I couldn’t quite make out the design on this one. James, Kris and I pondered the button’s image. A bird? A horse? What could it be? More on this later.
James found a nice Indian Head “Fatty” (penny) fro 1859, the first year they made the Indian cent.
Factoid: From 1859-1864, the Indian Head penny had the thickness of a nickel, but later in 1864 it was changed to the thickness of a penny. Any Indian Head from that initial period is known by the nickname “Fatty.”
Great find and confirmed the period of the property. He also found some old buttons around that area and later found a large token (initially thought it was a large cent) that turned out to be a step 1 AA token in great shape.
Day 2 we got up at 6am and hit the old, dilapidated barn area. More junk. Lots of it, which is not surprising considering the machinery that is used in or near a barn, and 357 Magnum shells. Grant is getting frustrated! Again, my usual slow and steady grid style was out the window. I tried every side of the barn, close and far away. Nails and junk.
James had a modicum of success in the backyard and side of the house on Day 1, so we went back there. I was cherry picking… only digging solid, isolated tones. By now it was around 10am and I got a good copper signal. I dug and dug and dug and pulled out a one-piece button that’s in fantastic shape. Thanks to theCannonBallGuy of the TreasureNet.com forums for a positive ID: “It is what the Waterbury Button Company’s online catalog (www.waterburybutton.com) calls a “Career Uniform” button, for the United Airlines company. For verification of my answer, go here: 14892 – Airlines – Waterbury Button”
James had wandered back into the front yard while I continued on the side of the house. I got another banging silver signal, and hoped it wasn’t another rusted piece of metal like James had dug up a minute before. Pinpointing and digging, I pulled out a nail. Sigh. Rescanned, silver tone still there. Another nail. Ug. Rescanned and silver tone was still there. Then? Another nail! “I REFUSE TO LET THIS BE IT!” James heard my frustrated whine and asked, “All OK!?” “Yeah, just determined to find something.” Another scan, silver tone still there and it pinpointed to the right sidewall of the plug. So I carefully gouged the side of the plug and out popped a coin. My Pro Pointer told me that I got it out. I looked at the reverse and saw clear type: “United States of America.” Cool! The front-side had caked-on mud, so I gently wiped it off to reveal the tell-tale Barber “Liberty” head.
“Dude! Come over!” “Whatcha got?” “Barber quarter!!” “No way!”
This was my first Barber coin find, and it came at just the right time.
Factoid: The “Barber” quarter, minted from 1892-1916, gets its name from the coin’s engraver, Charles Barber; it is also known as a Liberty Head Quarter. For almost the same period, the dime and half-dollar also featured this image.
Once again my persistence had paid off and defeated my frustration. I wrapped up the weekend feeling great and excited over a great find. We can’t wait to go back having removed a lot of the “junk” layer!
More on the “unknown” button:
I’ve been working hard on getting an ID on this button. After a first cleaning I couldn’t even tell what the design was. Then after multiple soapy water soaks and toothpick scraping, I revealed what looks like a scene of a duck flying into a marsh. I also saw letters on the back starting to reveal themselves, and I was able to make out “SONS” … more cleaning and a hi-res photo shoot later, I was able to make out “HAMMOND” which lead me to Hammond Turner & Sons, circa early 1800s in England. Their site – Hammond Turner & Sons | Button makers – doesn’t have this particular button listed, so I’ve reached out to them.
And thanks to forum member Subterranean who suggested the birds may be pheasants instead of ducks, I was able to find a positive ID: Ex rare Hammond Turner & Sons SPORTING BUTTON-Pheasants. So it’s pretty rare. Very cool!
Here’s a gallery of all our best finds from the weekend: