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Detecting My Brother’s Victorian-Era Property

Posted by on October 17, 2014

As my brother and his partner were house-hunting in the Northern NJ/Southern NY area, their main preference was a historic home that they could refurbish to its original grandeur in a structural sense, while fashioning it with more modern amenities and conveniences. Knowing full well that I would get exclusive access to metal detect their eventually chosen property, I felt as though I was a third wheel in their selection process. Of course, I was holding out hope that they would ultimately settle on a colonial property. Unfortunately, however, most of the very old homes they saw had one or more overriding negative factors about them that deterred a serious offer from being made.

victorian home

My brother’s beautiful Victorian home, through the years.

Well, fast-forward to the spring of 2014, when they finally found their dream house, a lovely Victorian (circa 1863) that was once a parsonage for the circa 1860 church across the street. It needed some TLC and was priced accordingly. They were quickly sold on the house, but not vice versa (a long closing process prevented them from gaining full access for several months). Finally, in the fall of 2014, they had keys in hand, which gave me figurative keys to their property. Before their landscape architectural plans were executed, I was free to hunt the history that lay buried under the soil, saving them before otherwise meeting the fate of both a tractor and Bobcat.

On a Saturday in mid-October, my brother and I awoke at sunup and began our search. (This was my brother’s first time metal detecting, so we stayed close so I could guide him.) At the end of a very long day of detecting, we had many interesting relics to show for our hard labor. Among the notable finds were an engraved silver thimble, two military buttons, some older coins (late-1800 Barber dimes, liberty (“V”) nickels, a mid-1800 Daoguang Boo-chiowan Chinese “cash” coin, mercury dimes, and some foreign coins), a St. Christopher medal, a skeleton key, a large decorative coat button, lead figurines, and other miscellaneous items.

Engraved silver thimble

Engraved silver thimble

Excelsior and military buttons

Excelsior and military buttons

We haven’t finished scouring the property in full, but when we are done I will make them a nice shadow box containing the most notable finds so they can long cherish their property’s history and also to serve as a conversation piece for future visitors.

Close up of miscellaneous finds

Close up of miscellaneous finds

Various coin finds from the day

Various coin finds from the day

Close up of best finds

Close up of best finds

Large coat button

Large coat button

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