Sunday, September 4, 2022

Kathy Davis-Waters - Goodby to A Friend

Kathy Davis-Waters was a friend of mine, and a member of the CFMDC since 2014, and had an active hand in the club and its activities, having been a club officer (vice-president), and a member of the club within the club, hunting police evidence, with the CFMDC Search Team. Cancer took her in mid-August, something we all knew was coming, including her. We were all hoping that, like in a TV show, there would be some last-minute plot twist that would erase the evil disease and bring her back to us in full health again, smiling and joking, doing her best to enjoy continuing life and her joy of God, friends, and metal detecting. Alas, it was not to be, and we sadly bid our friend goodby on the morning of August 17th 2022 where she passed peacefully into the arms of our Lord. 

Kathy Davis-Waters Treasure Hunter

Kathy Holding An Air Inlet Door from a WWII Grumman TBM Bomber

Kathy spent as much time as she could on small metal-detecting expeditions with all members of the group, and was an ardent detectorist. Her love of history always shown through with her various finds, and her excitement was palpable every time. One of her most spectacular recoveries, in my opinion, was a 1916 brass tire gauge that still showed signs of being serviceable over 100 years later! Unfortunately we had agreed to turn over all artifacts to the property owners after the hunt and she had to let her precious find go, a part of being in the hobby, but not particularly liking it. 

Kathy being Kathy...getting the "Kathy" stare 

 She was a master of many trades; she had been a Disney World photographer for many years, a private wedding photographer (her stories were priceless!) worked as a Uber and Lyft driver, but being a photographer was foremost. The other was detectorist. 

Kathy asking the farm owner where he thinks the $4000 diamond-studded cross might be

Kathy took part in many of the CFMDC Search Team's evidence hunts, lending a hand to put dangerous criminals where they belonged, behind bars or worse. She served as club Vice-President for one term, doing her best through cancer treatments to assist and support the club and the people in it. 

Proudly Displaying A Spoon Found On An Airbase Hunt

Kathy was a treasure hunter, and a good one. She originally used a Garrett AT-Pro, which she thoroughly wore out, upgrading to a Minelab CTX 3030. I hunted with her on many occasions and we always had a good time. Finding things was usually secondary to the fun we were all having!

Kathy (far left) my wife Patti, Me, and Mary hunting a Florida Park

We will all be missing Kathy's smile, her pranks (like yelling "GoPro STOP recording!" as she walked by) and her friendship, as she can never be replaced in our hearts. Rest in peace, Kathy.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Rewarding Hobby-Dealing With Gratitude

 Something I've noticed for many years now, is the conclusion to a successful lost ring, lost jewelry, lost necklace, pendant, and so on hunt is the happiness of the person who thought they would never see this item again. Hand over open mouth, jumping up and down, heartfelt hugs and the plethora of body language with verbal exclamations that go with the realization that your electronic magic wand has turned an unfathomed loss, into an unbelievable reunion! Here, at this point, is where the rubber meets the road. The person, or couple, or family holds out their hand with a wad of bills...maybe $20 or can go as high as $1000 at times and everywhere in between. The sudden quiet is deafening, the birds are frozen in flight, the world has momentarily stopped turning.

My Wife Returning A Lost Wedding Band

As part of our prime directive, our detectorist mantra, we never ask for a reward, but if one is offered? You, of course, are above all that, and your benevolence shines with a nuclear radiance...sometimes blinding you to the situation as it really stands. "No, no. I was glad to find it...that's what we/I do as a, no...!" Let me say this about that: there is nothing wrong with being magnanimous, especially when you consider the time it took you to find it, or the magnitude of the recovery. BUT when it was truly a herculean effort, say in a dirty muddy scummy side canal, or alligator infested pond, or several days of pounding the ground, the atmosphere changes. Your equipment is specialized and expensive, the experience and proficiency in using that equipment is a hard-to-find commodity and traveling to the site is getting more and more expensive. Yes, yes, you have a great retirement nest-egg, yes everyone admires your charity and holds you as a hero, and it may well be deserved, as I have seen time and again, detectorists selflessly even put themselves in danger to recover and unrecoverable heirloom. But I'm talking about not a physical daring-do, but the mental state of the person who experienced the loss then the miraculous recovery. They really want to reward you...they really do! No one wants to live in the shadow of debt of another, and they would like to see you have a nice dinner out, or a movie as a token of their thanks for what you did.

So, as they hold a reward in their outstretched hand, I would advise you to thank them profusely and take it! Let me explain, especially to those of you that are mentally accusing me of being a detection hooker!  Although it is not really quid pro quo, it comes close. They go away happy for the return of the unreturnable, and you go away happy, maybe going to dinner and see Maverick with your wife on their dime tonight. Or not...just consider it.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Pyrate Tyme - The Real Deal

 One question...why do many metal detecting club's logo's feature a pirate ship, face, or flag? Pirates, or Privateers as they were originally called, were not nice people. They were dangerous seagoing criminal gangs that literally robbed, raped, and plundered ships and coastal villages. What does that have to do with the metal detecting hobby? Since Captain Jack Sparrow graced the big screen many years ago, that loveable rouge, funny, most times drunk, and highly humorous, we have gotten a very biased opinion of pirates. As a matter of fact, most everyone who lived quite a bit after these seagoing gangs were caught and hanged, or jailed, has a slanted view of these guys. 

First of all pirates rarely, if ever, buried their treasure. They didn't have time to do so, always on the run, dodging Navel patrols or angry shipping companies. And usually after a few nights of drunken carousing in a safe port, they had little treasure left anyway. They were a "live for today" crowd, and many didn't expect to even see tomorrow. Being a common sailor in a 16th Century navy was a horror; beaten, worked to death, or executed for minor offences. Many men were "shanghaied" or basically knocked cold and brought aboard ship, and when they woke up at sea, they had no choice but to work as part of the crew. One pirate was recorded as saying "In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages and hard labor. In piracy, there is plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sour look or two  at hanging?" He ended the thought with " No, a merry life and a short one shall be my motto!"
Several of my favorite Pirate reads
Being part of a pirate crew was, strange as it sounds, freedom in a democratic society. Pirate crews would elect their own captains, if the captain did not work out, or caused the group problems the pirate crew was more than quick in replacing him immediately! They voted on what prize (ship) t take in battle to gain the most treasure with the least amount of harm to themselves. And their take was not always gold and silver, it was also rum, alcohol, booze, fine silks and linen cloth...and occasionally women. A hostage meant money in the bank. Anything they could turn a profit on. Many governors in the colonies and Caribbean nations would have dealings with the pirates, buying what they stole at reduced prices and reselling them in their sphere of influence. Kind of a 16th Century E-Bay, but without the return policy...or the hassles! Another fallacy is pirates regularly made people "...walk the plank!" There was no plank, until several books, and later movies, poured that into the mystery mix that were pirate societies. A lot of the fabricated bunk about pirates originally came from a 1724 publication called "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates" This made a lot of money for the author, but it was equivalent to our reality television, looks good, but it really is not real! I've read several books on pirates that were very good, including a book years ago I managed to get, an original 1619 copy of "Pyrates Of The Caribbean," which I stupidly loaned to an acquaintance, and never saw the book again! If you get a chance, read up on piracy...a fascinating subject!  

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Time Over Target - Relaxing Detecting

 Metal detecting targets here in Florida are usually found in distinct layers, in accordance with the age of the item; older targets are usually deeper than newer targets. But not always, this is just an example. (we will use coins as the standard target, as most metal detectors are usually designed with coins in mind) Let's say targets from recently lost coins to those dropped a decade ago  can usually be found in regular soil from 1" to around 5" deep. We will call this the first layer. The second layer, coins lost 25 to 50 years ago, or so, will usually be found around 6" to 8" deep, in undisturbed ground. The third layer consists of coins dropped from 75 to 200 years ago, and are found, again, in undisturbed ground, up from 9" to 15" deep or deeper.

        An 1830's Spanish coin found by a friend around 6 or 7" deep  

A lot of factors can change these estimates, such as the make-up of the matrix, or in other words, the composition of the soil. Here in Florida, we have a black loamy soil in places, which can discolor older coins quite badly, to a sand-shell matrix which is easier on coins, and is more like beach detecting in certain ways. Metal detecting older coins can be very exciting, but requires you slow down a bit and listen closely for those deep signals. Sometimes nothing much more than a whisper is heard, and with experience, you'll know the target is worth digging. Slow, deep, coin hunting is an excellent way of bringing back the fun the hobby has always been known for. And since most detectorists' are impatient, they will be racing off at flank speed looking for the shallow finds, leaving the heavy silver for you! So get out there and listen closely as you slowly race about the park and get back into the exciting world of metal detecting! 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Detector Protector - Simple Things Keep It Running

 New detectorists usually have nowhere to turn to learn some of the basics of metal detecting. Oh sure, the old response to a question is usually "Watch YouTube, yeah Detector Dude and Dudet will show you all you need to know!" which of course can help you somewhat, but they are usually trying to make a few bucks and keeping their sponsors, more than filling you in on the basics. Most tubers assume you already know the basics.   And detector salespeople can help somewhat, but they are far more interested in selling machines then they are willing instructors to teach a rather complicated art and science to the layman. New detectorists should learn the proper ways and ethics of the hobby from the start. I'm going describe several of the basic pitfalls new detectorists get themselves into. Don't be embarrassed, we have all been there, either recently or a half-century ago. Tech advances, but human nature stays the same. 

Keep waterproofing caps on and the cable connection tight!

As I said last time, same place same channel, READ THE MANUAL, then read it again. I do, even though I have hours and hours on my machines. Many detectors nowadays can be electronically UPDATED, and characteristics may change on the same machine! Here are the very, very basic issues that can plague first time users. Erratic operation, the target signal jumps into and out of the headphones, tones increase and decrease. Possible issue is that the CONNECTOR from the coil-cable is LOOSE. Check this vital connection before every hunt, as they loosen up all the time and can be a major headache and ruin a hunt or worse a competition hunt! Another pain-in-the-neck is an improperly wrapped search-coil cable. A loose cable can cause false signals galore and make you crazy, or crazier than you normally are!

A well-wrapped coil is a happy loose windings!

Keep the coil cable wound tight but not too tight, and don't let the cable flop onto the top of the search coil! Another secret from the files of the Detectorist Guild is that the search coil detects metal from BOTH SIDES OF THE COIL and the floppy cable may, again, cause false signals due to the electrodynamic action on the metal wire in the cable.

Keep the control cable from flopping on the top of the coil!

I cannot tell you how many times an errant control-cable dragging across the top of a search-coil has caused massive digging for a target that never seemed to be there. as well as some new curse words being created at an alarming rate!  Also the obvious problem with steel-toes shoes should present itself, although it has happened, with the detectorist swearing his machine was defective! Make sure the batteries are in the machine properly, and at the proper cell in backwards can delay or ruin a hunt! Last, but not least, as a tip for newbies, that VDI screen is filled with good info, and the more you learn what it is telling you, the more keepers you will be finding! 

Another issue is a debris-filled plastic coil-cover, or scuff-plate, designed to prevent scratches and damage to the bottom of your expensive search-coil, it can also be a source of mysterious detector problems. This is a common problem causing nothing but trouble...false signals, scratchy interference, weird audio sounds. Especially when filled with sand and salty, mineralized, water, it can drive you nuts! These covers are not the easiest things to remove and sometimes you wonder how they can collect anything inside, they fit so tightly. And if you don't remove it after every few trips, you may never be able to remove it again, it can get so encrusted with dirt and salt! Once pried off, wash it out with fresh water, wash the search coil the same way, dry them and reassemble them. It can get rid of a lot of mysterious problems in one fell swoop.

Pry off the coil cover to solve many mysterious detector problems

Wash both the coil-cover AND search-coil with fresh water.

You metal detecting device is a precision instrument, and a nice clear, unscratched and unmarred view is the best view. But hauling the machine around, in the trunk, in the boat, or your backpack it's a good idea to keep it protected and many detectors come with a cover, But a quick and effective substitute can be had with a sock of any kind, now that the digital control head of most machines with recessed controls are the norm. It keeps the screen clean and unscratched, and protects the control housing also. It's an expensive instrument, and tearing it up is no badge of honor...keep it as new and clean as possible and it will serve you well for a long time!

Put a sock in it or put IT in a sock!

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Metal Detecting Smarts - Reading the Manual

You have one of the new, everybody's-talking-about-it metal detectors; so new you could swear the electronic engineer's fingerprints are still visible, faintly, on the plastic covered VDI screen! Shaking with anticipation, you roar off to the nearest field a few miles away, switch it ON and...and...nothing happens...nothing at all, What the? You shake the machine, check the batteries are inserted, wiggle the coil cable...nothing! "This machine is the #@$@#@&!!!'s junk!!!" you furiously type in the 47 social groups you belong to.  

Angrily you stuff it back in the box, drive 67 miles one-way to the shop you bought it from, slam it on the counter and tell the proprietor what you think of him for selling you a piece of expensive junk! The shop owner pulls the detector out of the box, and switches it on. Nothing. "There, you seeeeee!!!" you growl, vindicated in your righteousness. The shop owner dumps the rest of the boxes contents onto the counter; a charger, blue-tooth headphones, a screen protector, and an owner's manual, still sealed, factory fresh, inside it's plastic bag! 

The shop owner stares at you, pulls the manual out, opens it to page one, and turns it toward you. "Please note, the plastic battery terminal covers inside the compartment must be removed before inserting the batteries." A quick look in the battery compartment reveals the plastic protectors are still there, preventing the battery from making contact. The shop owner pulls the plastic device out from beneath the battery terminals and the detector powers up fine. Reading the owners manual is your very best guide to learning the mysteries and idiosyncrasies of your detecting gear. Of course the turn-it-on-and-run urge is very strong, young Skywalker, you must learn the basics, if you are to utilize the force, the electrodynamic force, that is, which will eventually unlock some of the secrets of history. And when searching for history, out in the field, let your conscience, and your operating manual, be your guide!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Gold Coins - Why Finding Them Is Difficult

Gold has always fascinated mankind, and today the lure is no less than it was in the last century the most noble of metals, the king of elements, the stuff of which dreams and treasures are made. From the very outset, gold was conceived as a part of the federal coinage system. The first United States gold coinage consisted of $5 pieces, called half eagles, delivered in 1795 followed by $10 or eagle pieces. An additional denomination, the $21/2 piece or quarter eagle, had its advent in 1796 from the Philadelphia Mint . Within the United States and abroad, there was a great distrust of paper money (previously issued Continental Currency notes were virtually worthless, so obligations of the new American government were viewed with suspicion), and emphasis was on intrinsic value. 

The weights of gold and other coins were equal to their intrinsic or melt-down value. The gold $10 piece was established at a weight of 270 grains, consisting of nine parts gold and 10 parts copper, the copper being added to give strength to the alloy. The intrinsic value concept was quite satisfactory so far as promoting the acceptance of new federal coins, but whenever the value of gold metal rose on international markets, vast quantities of minted quarter eagles, half eagles, and $10 pieces went into the hands of bullion brokers who melted or exported them. The $5 half eagle, made in greater numbers, tended to be the "workhorse" denomination. 

Gold coins of this value were struck more or less continuously from 1795 onward, with typical years generating production in the tens of thousands of pieces. There is the curious notation in the mint record that although 17,796 half eagles were minted in 1822, just three are known! An example in EF-40 grade, catalogued by the present writer for the sale of the Eliasberg Collection of U.S. Gold Coins in 1982, realized $687,500! As of today, 33 years later, in 2015, the price for one single $5 half-eagle gold coin dated 1822 goes for MORE THAN $5,000,000!! The price of gold rose during the 1820s and early 1830s, so that by the end of the period very few pieces had escaped the melting pot. A freshly-minted 1822 half eagle, or any other half eagle of the era, could be melted down and return more than $5 in value!! Congress passed legislation on June 28, 1834, effective August 1, 1834, mandating a change in the authorized weight of gold coins. After that time, gold coins were worth less in melt-down value than face value, so they were once again seen in the channels of circulation. 

Until the 1820s, there was no significant known source of native gold in the United States, and Bullion to make gold coins came from a variety of origins, including foreign gold coins melted down (an important source), bullion from Central and South America, and the reduction of various wrought items such as jewelry. By the 1820s, gold discoveries in North Carolina became important. In 1838 mints were established at Dahlonega, Georgia, and Charlotte, North Carolina, to produce coins from bullion found in those areas, with additional amounts coming from international payments, the melting down of foreign coins, and other traditional sources In the United States, gold coins were commonly used in large commercial transactions. As an example, if you were having a ship built, say a whaling ship, it would cost you around $35,000 in 1841, and paid for in gold coinage, NOT currency! At the time, during the middle of the 19th century, the country was inundated with a flood of privately-issued paper currency notes, with most values being from $1 to $10, but with abundant quantities of values from $20 to $100 as well, plus some stray examples of higher denominations. Just about every bank in existence issued its own currency. 

The enforcement of laws was loose, and many were the so-called "wildcat banks" which had little or no substantive backing, but which issued hundreds of thousands of dollars in worthless notes. The public distrusted these notes, and many demanded gold in payment for transactions. On the international scene, privately issued bank notes were not accepted, and gold coins were the norm. Thus, quantities of United States gold coins found their way to England, France, and other trading centers. The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill on the American River in California in January 1848 ignited the Gold Rush, which saw the migration westward of tens of thousands of individuals. Soon, vast quantities of gold were extracted from the rivers and soil of California. Shipped to the Eastern markets, the yellow metal became "common" in relation to earlier supplies. In view of the increased availability of gold, in 1849 two new coin denominations were created. The first was the gold dollar, which was to become the smallest federal gold coin. The second denomination was the $20 double eagle, minted in pattern form in 1849 and for general circulation beginning in 1850. This new, large, heavy coin made it economical to convert large amounts of bullion to struck form, for it took much less manpower and effort to make one double eagle than it did to coin an equivalent amount of gold in four $5 pieces or eight $21/2 pieces. 

By 1853, gold had become so plentiful in relation to silver that silver had risen sharply on the market, and federal silver coins were worth more in bullion value than in face value -- the same situation which confronted gold coins two decades earlier. In general, United States gold coins were widely used for commercial transactions in America from 1795 up until about 1880, for reasons stated, and after 1880 found their main use on the international market. This history and background has important implications for the rarity of gold coins as we perceive such today. Although today it is common to read that the United States was on the "gold standard" from 1795 onward, in actuality our country did not adopt the gold standard system until the year 1900, at which time the United States was one of the last developed nations to do so. Under the gold standard, countries participating in this stored gold coins and bullion in central banks and simply exchanged currency or certificates among themselves to settle transactions. Thus, after the year 1900 large quantities of American coins were stored in European, South American, and other vaults and were seldom moved. In the meantime, within the United States gold coins were rarely seen in day to day commerce If you had been a typical citizen in the year 1900, chances are that during everyday grocery purchases, real estate transactions, and any other business transacted during a given 12-month period not a single gold coin would have been encountered, particularly if you lived in the East (gold coins were seen in circulation with more frequency in the West). 

Although gold issues were not needed in everyday circulation, they continued to be minted in record quantities. For example, the year 1904 saw a coinage of over six million double eagles at Philadelphia and over five million in San Francisco. What happened to them? Most were shipped overseas. Gold coinage continued in large quantities, and in the 1920s, when gold coins were mainly kept in banks and rarely seen in circulation, record numbers were produced. The year 1928 saw a production of 8,816,000 double eagles, an all-time high! From 1929 onward, the economic situation in the United States deteriorated (i.e. the Great Depression) in 1933 there was widespread concern for the security of the American monetary system. On April 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed that gold coins were to be returned by the public to the Federal Reserve System by May 1st, with the exception of pieces of numismatic value. Citizens were prohibited from holding gold with minor exceptions In the same year, 1933, the government issued several notices to the effect that the United States would remain on the gold standard and that citizens should not be alarmed, which, of course was a bald-faced lie. The Gold Reserve Act of January 30, 1934 provided that: "No gold shall thereafter be coined, no gold coins shall hereafter be paid out or delivered by the United States... all gold coins in the United States shall be withdrawn from circulation..." This legislation effectively ended gold coinage production and removed the gold backing of paper money. In the same year, 1934, the United States withdrew from the gold standard. At the time of the decrees of 1933 and 1934, millions of dollars worth of gold coins, primarily of the higher "bullion" values of $5, $10, and $20, were held by various world banks. The idea of shipping them back to the United States in exchange for currency seemed patently ridiculous to foreign bankers, Accordingly, foreign banks held on to United States gold coins more tightly than ever! Years later, when gold coin ownership regulations for United States citizens were relaxed, then dropped entirely, European, South American, and Asian banks became a prime source for gold coin specimens.