Recently, I embarked on a day-long outing to the South Jersey farm fields. This was a new permission of my friend’s (to which he graciously invited me) on land directly adjacent to a separate property where I found my 1st Spanish cob (1620-1650). So, needless to say that I didn’t need any further proof that this new field was a place rife with history. To be sure, these fields are dissected by a river that was the main thoroughfare for the original settlers of the mid-to-late 1600s, to say nothing of the many 18th and early 19th century passersby.
Despite this seemingly amazing location for relic hunting, I have learned one thing over the years: No matter the historical backdrop, the relic hunter must always keep expectations low. This is because sometimes the best can’t-miss properties provide the biggest disappointments (what metal detectorists call “getting skunked”). As luck would have it, after an hour of searching, though I had already found a matron head large cent (1816-1839), I had little else to show for my efforts.
Then, while I was in my own world thinking other things, I got a jumpy high tone that also had a slight twinge of iron-grunt in it. This choppy signal, coupled with my diluted expectations, did not provide me with visions of grandeur for this particular target, though the signal was good enough to dig. So, you can imagine my shock when out of the ground came a thin, irregular shaped disk with a cross motif, which I instantly knew was a Spanish “cob” (hammered silver Spanish coin). With my friend close by, I blurted out “Oh my God, it’s a cob!” What followed was elation; well, at least on my part (I think my friend was rethinking his kind invite at this point).
Research later at home identified the coin as a 1696 Lima Mint 1 real. This represented my second Spanish cob, and it was found no more than 500 yards from my 1st one. I went on that day to find a silver colonial thimble and other period items. While I certainly wasn’t looking for the cob, nor expecting anything like it because of my tempered mindset that day, it ended up finding me.