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Grant’s 40th Birthday Surprise

Posted by on July 20, 2013
1884 Argentinian Dos Centavo

1884 Argentinian Dos Centavo

In the weeks leading up to my 40th birthday, I was planning a weekend getaway with my wife and my one-year-old daughter. While spending time with them is great and precious, my wife kept the details of the getaway a secret. She was, however, dropping hints like, “kid-friendly” and “petting zoo.” Certainly not my top choices when it comes to a short vacation, but I’ve realized that as a dad, it’s no longer about me. Vacations, free time, even dinner revolve around and are dictated by a cute little girl and her whims.

A few days before we were to set sail to wherever-land, my wife decided to fill me in with some details. In doing so, she emptied out a bag filled with Snickers and Paydays. Um, OK. “You’re going metal detecting!” Still confused, I asked, “huh?” When James and I detect, we arm ourselves with Snickers (for me) and Paydays (for him) to keep us fueled in between bigger meals. My brain still trying to put together the pieces, she explained that the “kid friendly vacation” was a ruse. She was sending me and James on a 3-day detecting journey in Massachusetts.

Still confused but catching on quickly, I started to get excited. I admit I was a tad bummed that I wasn’t going to spend a long weekend with my wife and daughter, but decided we’d do that another weekend, and I quickly turned my focus onto detecting. I quickly called James and he revealed that his sister-in-law Lynn was also in on the plan, and she had lined up some properties for us to hunt.

With some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, I called Lara at Detector Depot to order a 17-inch coil for my Minelab CTX 3030. This coil is a huge beast and covers a lot of ground, and it was T-minus 3 days till we departed for MA. To her credit, Lara got it out to me super fast and I had a new toy to play with.

James arrived at my house Thursday night and we discussed the days ahead over a beer. Off to bed and up at 4am, we started our journey north to New England. We were so excited we didn’t need coffee to stay awake, but yeah, we got some anyway.

Suspenders and Garter Clips

Suspenders and Garter Clips

We arrived at Lynn’s house at around 8am ready for the day ahead. This would be our second trip to Lancaster, MA, and our first trip left us hungry to come back. Our first stop of the day was a spot in some local woods that used to be home to a button factory. To a detector, that sounds like an ideal spot. Well, it must have been… for someone else. We were quickly able to determine that the spot had been hit before. I did manage a couple of suspenders clips and a garter clip (all from one hole) but other than that, the soil was pretty quiet.

We headed back near Lynn’s house where we knew of some cellar holes that hadn’t been hit yet. After wandering aimlessly around the woods searching for them, we traced our steps back and asked a local for directions. Smart of us, as we were at the cellar holes about 5 minutes later. Unfortunately there was so much debris that it was near impossible to detect. We instead focused on an open field that used to be used for horse and equestrian training. The terrain was difficult, but I managed to find some horse tack and James walked away with a Barber dime.

Day 2 had us detecting at some newer homes in the very old town of Sterling, MA. Our hosts, Sue & Dave and Sherri & Jim, couldn’t have been kinder to us. In this hobby we rely on generous people who don’t mind us searching and digging on their lawns or around their property. Of course we do our best to leave without a trace, but it’s often a big leap of faith for someone to say yes. They seemed to have no hesitation and let us do our thing.

Although the homes were new, I found a couple mid-1800s buttons (as did James). James also found a silver bracelet that said ‘Peace, Love, Hope.” We thought it may have belonged to the teen who lived in the house, but homeowners didn’t recognize it. James left it with them anyway thinking the owner may somehow be revealed.

We left Sterling and stopped by a friend of Lynn’s who lived in a house built in the late 1800s. It was a small property but it undoubtedly had some good stuff. The small property didn’t disappoint. I found a 1950 silver Roosevelt dime, a really nice watch fob, and one of my favorite coins to date … an 1891 Argentinian Dos Centavos coin. Below is a video of the find, and as you can see from the pics it cleaned up very nicely.

1884 Dos Centavos from Argentina

1884 Dos Centavos from Argentina


We decided to head back to the cellar hole that had been so kind to us last fall. Knowing we did a good job cleaning it out the first time, finds would be few and far between. And they were. I managed a decorative drawer pull, but that’s it.

We headed back to the hotel room and out to dinner hoping that our final day would offer up some good finds. However, we had nothing lined up for the final day!

Sunday morning found us back at Lynn’s trying to figure out a plan. I decided to door knock one of Lynn’s neighbor’s house who had a nice-sized property that dated back to late 1800. What I got out of it was a 20-minute conversation that was hard to walk away from. While it was a pleasant conversation, the end result was a “no” and we were delayed in detecting.

While I was Yenta-ing it up, our hosts from the previous day reached out to a friend who lived on an 1840s farm house, and he granted us permission to search his few acre property. SCORE!! We were on the road. We arrived and were greeted with a smile by the homeowners. He gave us carte blanche to hunt his front lawn and 2 acre yard.

This was an ideal spot – on paper. 1840s home, untouched, never filled, never detected on. What would we find? Well, the start was slow going. It was hot and we were finding modern junk. James managed an Indian Head penny, but I had nothing to speak of. We strolled down to the big field and got to swinging. With my big coil acting as part plough, I weaved my way through the long brush. James bailed early and headed back to the front yard. I found a couple buckles and what I think is  a very nice rosette. No old coins, but certainly a good relic or two.

Remember the “Peace, Love, Hope” bracelet James found (mentioned above)? Well, it turned out to be THIS house owner’s daughter’s bracelet, who is friends with the daughter of the property owner where James found the bracelet. We paid it forward by giving it to the owners. What a coincidence!

As the sun started it’s downward journey, that signaled the end of ours. We packed up our gear and headed back south to New Jersey. While our finds for the weekend weren’t banner worthy, we had a great time. Lynn and her family are fantastic hosts and I can’t thank them enough. James and I had a great experience that will live in our minds forever, enjoyed great conversations, food and drink, and our passion for metal detecting only grew stronger.

Here’s to the next 40 years!

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