In early January, exploring some remote parts of NJ, I was tipped off by a local about a colonial-era house with 100 acres located down a remote road on a riverbank. He had me at “colonial-era,” for shortly thereafter I was on my way to seek permission to metal detect there.
Long story, short, the owner was very nice to chat with but guarded with respect to granting permission to hunt his property. After some genuine assurances on my part, he eventually agreed on a compromise—I had just “an hour or two” to detect 100 acres of barren corn field! Daunting as that was, I had no time to think about it.
After about 20 minutes of furious swinging, I had little to show for my efforts. I was surprised because this was such a perfect property to detect. Then, with precious time ticking away, I got a jumpy high tone that I couldn’t ignore. I dug down, pinpointed, and pulled out a small silver disc that was holed. At first, I thought it was some small religious medallion like I had found a few times previously. However, when I turned it over and saw the tell-tale cross, I was pretty certain I had my best—and oldest—find ever. Later identification confirmed it: my first Spanish cob—a silver half real, Mexico City mint. This one dates to the reign of King Felipe IV, 1621-1665! See here (1st example shown) for a very close match: http://www.coins.nd.edu/ColCoin/ColCoinText/Sp-Cobs.1.html.
A little later on, with the cob figuratively glowing in my finds pouch, I had espied what I thought to be an arrow head (another artifact I had never found) on the surface of the ground. My archaeologist neighbor confirmed that it was in fact a quartz arrow head, likely chipped, and therefore discarded.
For my limited time on such a vast property, I certainly made the most of it, not only in terms of two “firsts” for me, but especially with respect to the age of the items I found. Too bad I can’t return, but I must honor my promise. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I was given, as it afforded me my best find ever, but to this day I remain extremely curious as to what else lurks underground there.