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Masking is the new frontier

31 Oct

Sunday evening I returned to the 1884 park with my trusty XP Deus metal detector.

I wanted to spend a little more time at the spot where I found the two Mercury dimes Saturday morning. This time I began my hunt with a high recovery speed and stayed at the same 5’x 10′ area.

I decided to try a two tone approach but it was tricky deciding on the cut-off for iron. I didn’t want to miss any small gold so I probably left the setting too low because I ended up digging about 20 rusty nails. Still, the hunt was productive:
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Iron was found with every target except for the new dime, which was on the surface. The Mercury dime was a faint signal in spite of being only about six inches deep. I attribute this to the Jack that was in the hole with it. The Nickel is from 1949 and was found as part of a pocket spill with the two Wheat cents.

Let me recap so I can paint a picture for you. The area is approximately 5 feet by 10 feet. I conservatively estimate that I have dug more than 200 rusty nails and pieces of other iron from it since I began hunting the spot three years ago. During this hunt I dug two large pieces of iron near the surface. I find large pieces of iron near the surface every time I dig here. There appears to be no end to it.

Why all the iron? I surmise a structure stood here a long time ago; possibly even before the swing set stood there. I think this because I have dug very old door hinges and other pieces of iron that hold wood together from here. Theory number two is that the spot where the park now sits was used as a dump, which I understand was common on the old days. All the coins I have found here harken back to the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, when the swing set sat there.

There you have it. A classic case of iron masking. There is something called silent masking. As I understand it, this is the case when you hear neither the iron nor the non ferrous target being masked. In other words, the coil goes over both the iron and the coin but the detector makes no noise at all. I believe this is happening here as well.

Stay tuned to see if I am right about this.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Back to silver

29 Oct

I returned to the park this morning where I found the token the other day with the aim of exploring more deep signals with my XP Deus metal detector. I have been using the 9 inch coil lately to try to get around the trash.

I selected an area I haven’t explored in several years. I remember this area was heavily infested by foil and pull tabs but today I was amused to find out that the area was relatively clear of shallow trash. Seems like other hunters have been working the spot. After an hour of nothing but deep chunks of rusted iron, I changed my strategy. One of the beautiful things about the XP Deus is that it is ridiculously fast. At its slowest setting, it is as fast as many other machines at their fastest. This is known.

So I raised my recovery speed to 3 and moved to the 5’x10′ area where I have found 99 percent of all coins at this park. I actually watched a guy with an Etrack several years ago grid this very same spot and come up empty handed. I myself have come up empty handed several times but today, I was in a good mental place and got in the ‘zone’ quickly. I must add that the reason why a high recovery speed is necessary at this location is that if you sink your digger to about seven to eight inches randomly, you will likely find rusted nails and several small round pieces of amorphous rusted iron. I know that in the 30’s and 40’s there was play equipment here but why all the nails and other rusted iron are there I’ll never know. Here are my non-ferrous targets:
hyde102016

The round piece of rusted iron is a steel wheat cent. This is either the third or fourth I have dug since I began back in 2011. The rivet, I was told by my friend lawdog1, is likely from a pair of old overalls. The two mercs were around six inches deep but barely gave a signal as they were heavily masked by iron. I wonder how many more coins are there being silently masked by the insane amount of iron.

I will continue to explore this spot in the coming weeks to see if I can squeeze more silver from it.

Thank you for stopping by!

An interesting token

25 Oct

I stopped by a very old park where I have found a number of silver coins and some big gold before. I only intended to hunt for maybe 10 minutes mostly to test something.  After I dug up a couple of very deep chunks of iron, I got another such deep signal and after digging an 11+ inch hole I thought for sure I would find yet another chunk of rusted iron when to my surprise, a round shape was sitting on the dirt:

For a split second I thought I had a large cent but my brain quickly discarded that idea. I could see the date plainly: 1837 and the back had a design common to British coins so I thought I had a British coin but I was wrong on that count as well.

This is a British gaming token known as a Cumberland Jack. The token was first minted in 1837 when young Victoria became queen. Because she was a woman, queen Victoria could not assume the throne of Hanover due to some law that prohibited women from ruling that part of the world. So that post went to a certified jackass duke of Cumberland. This token was made in derision of him. The token was outlawed in 1883, which coincidentally, is one year before the park I found this beauty at was opened.

This is not the first token I’ve found with a super cool history. A few years ago I found a token from the East. You can read about it here.

Not the Seated coin I was looking for but alas, it is a very cool token if you ask me.

Thank you for stopping by.

Back at it

25 Oct

Now that the weather is cooler and my health is sort of ok, I decided to get back out there and do some detecting.

First, I put the 9 inch coil back on the Deus as I had decided I wanted to explore a park with more pulltabs and bottle caps anyone should have to contend with. My rationale was that since all that junk was still there, the park had not been hunted properly and there may be some gold hiding therein. Three hunts and lots and lots of junk later I decided I had enough of it.

So Sunday evening, finding myself with a bit of free time I went to a site that is super interesting and that has been hit by EVERY metal detectorist to ever walk my beloved city.
This site, as everyone knows because of an 1888 map, had a horse track on it. What most people don’t know is that 10 years or so before said horse race track was ever laid,  a farm house stood there.

In the past, I and many others have found horse related iron at the site. Horse shoes and horse tackle are common finds. I always believed that this was related to the horse race track but now I think I am wrong. Now I believe that the all that horse related stuff is linked to the farm house not the race track.

Since I hunt deep stuff, I have found many old brass remnants there that I believe were part of the house. Thus I returned and began to hunt for deep stuff again. I dug five holes as I was being highly discerning. Hole one had an old rusted iron bolt at about nine inches deep. Hole two produced a small iron handle which perhaps went with a kitchen drawer, also in the nine to ten inch deep range. Hole three gave me a brass button close to eight inches deep. Hole number four was a bullet; not terribly old but also the shallowest target at only seven inches. The last hole produced a lead tag for some kind of product. The lead was nice and aged and the writing on it described something using product codes. This beauty was all the way down the bottom of a ten inch hole.

The significance of the non-ferrous items is that these items were missed. In fact, the site had many more of these kind of deep signals but I didn’t have my shovel with me and after five holes I was worn out. Today at lunch I will return with my t-handle shovel and see what else is  there. Hopefully my first ever Seated coin will see the light of day.

Thank you for stopping by!

Why do I do it??

29 Aug

After several weeks of not even looking at my detectors, I finally went out for a four hour hunt. It was glorious. I dug up what seemed like a thousand holes and found only ONE thing even mildly interesting: a tiny silver-coated locket. I don’t have a picture of it but it is round and it has a hinge so I assume I’ll be able to open it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. I had a great time alone in the park, answering the call of the tones as sailors of old answered the call of the sirens. Among the legion of trash, I dug up a handful of center-fired bullet cartridges (probably 25’s, although I am no expert) wondering once again if it was legal to shoot your gun at the park back in the 30’s and 40’s. Also, I unearthed a couple of very rusted square nails and about 30 lbs of aluminum foil. OK, OK, I didn’t really weigh it.

So, any reasonable person would ask, why do you this? It is sheer madness to spend 4 hours digging for naught but trash. What can I say, it’s a detectorist’s thing.

I cannot speak for anyone else but for me, it really is about satisfying the 9 year old inside me. Yep, now you know it; I never grew up. That tiny locket is all I needed as a reward. Sure, a couple of old coins would have been nice too but the locket will do. I can’t wait to open it and see what could possibly fit in it.

There is much more of course. The wind, the trees, the squirrel that humorously and noisily gnawed on a black walnut (I think) right above me as I was trying to decide whether to dig or not, and so on. But at the end, I spent 4 hours just for the sheer curiosity of it.

No one else will know what’s buried in the parks. Only those of us afflicted by this weird sickness can know. And there are so many interesting things buried; each with a story.
I mean, back in August of 2011, I was detecting the banks of the Arkansas when I dug up a golden coin. I still vividly remember the excitement. I even remember that, convinced it was a gold coin in the hole, I looked around to make sure no one else saw the bounty I was about to receive. Alas, it was not a gold coin but a shekel. In fact I dug up fifteen of them from that hole.
Sheqels
The coins were from the 90’s and worth about $5 American. What in the world were 15 Israeli coins doing buried in the mud of the Arkansas?

I will never know but no other person in my beloved city can even begin to ponder this mystery. Only me.

And that’s why I do it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Detectorist

9 Aug

I was watching a British show about metal detecting and in one episode, one of the characters corrects a civilian by telling her that his machine was a metal detector but that he was a metal detectorist.

I had heard the term detectorist from British dirt fishers before but over and over my online spelling dictionary would flag the word as erroneously spelled and when I checked, the dictionary would not give me an alternative spelling.

Thinking this was odd, I have looked for the word in online and physical dictionaries and have failed to find it.

I rather like the term. The ending of the word: -ist, suggest a person who does something and in this case the activity is detection. I like the general sense of the word; whatever else we are, we are detectorists first. I may be looking for silver coins but I am detecting all kinds of other metals in the ground.

Why is this important you may ask? The answer my friend is solidarity. Dirt fisher and Hunter are fine and well but hardly universal. We need a name to bring us together. Heck, at our meeting with the state archaeologist we were asked what we called ourselves and we all threw a number of terms at him. I think we settled, rather uncomfortably, on the term Hunter.

I just now read a post by Detecting Diva where she pins this lack of standard name for us as a pet peeve and I for one agree with her.

So spread the word. We are Detectorists. Sure, Dirt Fisher is cool and so is Hunter but lets present a united front and call ourselves detectorists to the uninitiated out there. Coinshooter and Relic Hunter are good for the specialists among us but I humbly suggest saying something like “I am a Metal Detectorist of the Coinshooter species”. Ok, that may get you beat up on the playground. Most certainly we are not vandals, or looters though.

As for me, I am a Metal Detectorist, a Coinshooter, a Park Hunter, and a Pulltab Afficionado.

Thank you for stopping by.

The Old Timer

8 Aug

About five years ago, I was a newbie in the hobby. I want to call myself a newbie still but I don’t know if I can do that after five years of metal detecting. Be that as it may, five years ago I found my first ever Indian Head cent. It was a beautiful (to me) 1900 Indian with a fair amount of wear, probably dropped in the 20’s or so. That I found it in one of our city parks was especially cool to me. At that time, I didn’t know any other metal detectorists. I was by myself and I had barely discovered the metal detecting forums on the Internet.

Finding that Indian was nearly a religious experience for me. I needed to share that experience with someone who may appreciate it. So, after making a video, lost now in the bowels of YouTube (never to be found again) where I waxed poetic about my Indian cent, I put away my equipment and drove off to another park. As I was approaching the park, I saw another guy metal detecting! Forgetting my anti-social pathologies for the moment, I parked my car and ran, well, you may not have called it running, towards the poor guy. I may have told this story here before but bear with me. I asked him if he had found anything and without waiting for an answer I trust the Indian upon him and I told him I had found an Indian Head cent.

Kindly, Richard (that’s his name) asked me, “Where did you find an Indian in this city?” I excitedly told him the particulars of the story and then he told me a little about the history of the park we were standing on and encouraged me to find him in the forums. Richard has been detecting for many years and he was my first ever metal detecting friend. He could have lectured me but he didn’t. Instead he gave me exactly what I needed: encouragement, support, and friendship.

So what’s the point Miner? I hear you ask. The point is rather oblique. The point is to ask “Why do I write a metal detecting blog?” I must admit that when I started this blog, I did it because I was done with metal detecting forums. I am not saying that forums are not important, no. They are filled with political, religious, and other content not related to metal detecting at all but you would be a fool to ignore them. They are also the premier source of information regarding this hobby. At the time however, I was done with them and I felt the only other way to share my finds was via this blog.

Over time however, I’ve come to realize that I mostly write this blog for the people who like me in the past, are just beginning to enjoy this hobby and who may need someone to talk to about this thing we do. I have striven to do like Richard did that day and to remain open to all newcomers although I do get a little full of myself sometimes. I also write an opinion now and again which may make me no friends but the comment section is always open to any rebukes (to this day, I’ve only blocked spam).

Many times I have discussed the state of our hobby and bemoaned the fact that people just want to detect and they don’t want to get involved in the business of keeping metal detecting legal in our communities. It is my opinion that the main reason people don’t get involved is because these days it is hard to find good stuff. Before I can get someone excited about fighting for the hobby, I have to make them excited about the hobby. Just yesterday, I spoke to two newbies and both told me the same thing: we are alone. One told me he hadn’t found anything in 7 months of detecting. And then, another type of old timer came by to gloom and doom yet another newbie (and me) because we had the audacity of not having been in the hobby back when he was finding silver coins two inches down and by the hundreds in the city parks.

So that’s the point. Be kind to people. Be like Richard. We may yet keep metal detecting alive for years to come.

Thank you for stopping by.

Proof of life

29 Jul

Once more, I have to declare I am not dead.

July was a month of vacation, illness, and hellish heat.

I took the family north to South Dakota this month to visit the Black Hills, the Badlands, and to take in Mt. Rushmore. It was great and we all had a good time.

Right before we left on our trip, I developed an ear infection that didn’t completely leave me until after we returned home.

I took Maurice with me but alas! I never got a chance to use it. There was a very nice park behind our hotel with a lovely mountain stream cutting right through the middle of it but the park itself was very new and the one time I had a little time to detect, I decided to go exploring with my youngest instead.

At the Badlands, the high temps hovered in the high 70’s, pushing 80 once or twice. However, upon descending to the plains of Kansas, the temps quickly went back up to the high 90’s and low 100’s. I have wisely stayed indoors or confined our outings to the local neighborhood swimming pool. I am feeling the itch however…

We had a very striking thunderstorm last night and I hope that the ground is moist and easier to dig so I can get in a little hunting this weekend.

I hope you are all staying cool

Thank you for stopping by.

The new thing I need in a detector

4 Jul

I hope you all are having a great 4th of July weekend. Please bring your pets in to minimize their suffering during this time of fireworks and revelry.

Here in my part of the country, we’ve had a couple of days of torrential rain so I am cooped up. Actually, the rain stopped long enough last evening to go out bike riding with my youngest and we had a great time.

Eventually, however, my thoughts returned to my favorite past-time. I’ve read discussions on the Web about new detectors being planned and produced and what features we would want. In the past I’ve said I want a detector that is not based on Electromagnetism. Right now my limited mind can only think of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) but alas, an affordable and light GPR unit may not happen in my lifetime.

So if I am to be stuck with the status quo, what improvement would I like? More depth? Better unmasking? Yes, sure, I always want those but what I really, really would like is the ability to identify metals based on their chemical composition and not based on their conductivity. Yeah, that’s it. I want my detector to tell copper, gold, aluminum, and silver apart regardless of the shape and size of the object.

Also, if we can send probes to Mars and land them precisely where we want them to land, why can’t we accurately tell how deep an object is with our metal detectors? I can already hear all of you telling me that you can do that with your brand of detector already but let me break it to you as gently as I can: No, you can’t. Your machine can give you an estimate of depth but not accurately tell you. Granted, sometimes the machine comes close but many times all you get is a ballpark figure.

So there you have it. If you are a smart techie, please get working on these things. I am getting older by the minute and would like to see a paradigm shift before I am too old to detect.

Thank you for stopping by.

I’ve done told you

27 Jun

Regardless of the heat, at lunch time today, I went to the place where I’ve found a number of old coins in the recent past. Saturday morning I took my Tesoro Compadre and cleaned a bunch of trash from the first 5-6 inches of soil. The spot is a bear in terms of iron. But it wasn’t the iron I was after, I was after all the freaking aluminum foil. As it happened, I removed a bunch of iron that was near the surface as well.

So today I took my time and decided to dig only the choosiest of signals. I was fooled a couple of times with rusted nails and I even got fooled a few times with small aluminum foil that I missed with the Compadre. By the way, I decided to take the XP Deus on this hunt. Towards the very end of my lunch hour I got a nice signal among iron. Nice and repeatable. After I dug up my obligatory 9 inch hole I stuck my pinpointer in and got an iffy bing at the bottom of the hole. This always makes me smile because that means the object is deep. Incidentally, in an effort to avoid holes-to-nowhere, I dusted off my DetectorPro Pulse Induction pinpointer. It has a reach of about 4 inches for a quarter size coin and a solid 3 inches for a dime sized coin so if I miss my pinpointing with the Deus, I can still find the target in the hole.

This particular target was about 2 inches deeper. I know, I ought to quit talking about depth. It means nothing to anyone else but me. Be that as it may, I pulled this nice 1905 Indian Head cent out of the dirt:

This IH was dropped shortly after it was minted. You can see part of the word Liberty on the headdress and the reverse has nice details on it.

And now comes a bit of ranting

Here is the list of all coins found at this relatively small spot at this park: I’d say is about 15ft x 15ft. You can see the pictures of these coins in the last 10 or so posts:
1919 Wheat
1918 Wheat
1915 Wheat
18xx V nickel
189X V nickel
1890 Indian
1905 Indian
1917 Type 1 Standing Liberty
1894 Barber quarter
1901 Barber dime
1912 Barber dime
1904 Barber dime
KS Tax Token

This list does not include the coins found by Redd and KSDave three years ago, many from this very same spot, one of which was a Seated dime.
Also, keep in mind that this park has been hunted a quadrillion times by a thousand detectorists since the hobby came about.

My point is that our old parks are choke-full of old coins but these coins are not easily accessible. You most definitely will NOT find these coins if you:
Swing too high
Swing too fast
Lift the coil at the ends of your swing
Listen poorly to the tones
Use a detector not built for these environs
Use a detector you do not know well
Do not learn from the trash you dig

I am not trying to be an ass. Really. I am just saying those of us who came into the hobby in the last 10 years have a different reality to contend with. Unless you are only hunting private properties (lucky you), you need to approach our city parks with a fresh set of expectations, philosophy, and equipment.

Thank you for stopping by.