Permit an old metal detectorist to post a recent find?
I was a pretty avid metal detectorist back in the late 1990s. I was the president of our local club for 3 or 4 years, found thousands and thousands of coins, including about 100 silver coins, several dozen obsolete (Indian cents, buffalos) and dozens of wheats. Even more marked pieces of silver jewelry. I even had two articles published in the largest metal detecting magazine.
But as is often the case, life gets in the way. Weekly outings became monthly, then semi-annual. In the last 5 years, I've probably gone out 3, maybe 4 times.
But I've had my eye on a particular patch of land for years. Because this property, on a quiet brick street in the middle of town, was across the alley from the first house I bought. I'd cast a forlorn eye at this empty, clover and grass covered lot often. They weren't even using it! It was behind their 1915-era bungalow--technically behind the garage. They mowed it every month and that was it. Here's my old house, and the lot across the alley:
But I eventually sold that home and moved a couples of miles down the road to a new house with a new wife. And we were happy there. And my small real estate company grew from 2 or 3 properties to 20 or 30.
And while my coin collecting and precious metals hobbies continued on a great trajectory, there was always something more pressing than detecting.
And then a funny thing happened. Four years ago, the house three doors down from the one with that back yard absolutely choked with silver coins (in my mind, at least), came on the market. And then the house on the other side. And then the house next to the one with the silver choked yard. And would you believe it? The very house itself.
And I bought them all, one by one. I own the whole block now, save one house all the way on the opposite end of the block.
At Christmas, my main contractor asked my opinion about metal detectors. He'd heard my war stories and figured he'd give it a shot, too. I remembered a fair amount. But technology has changed so much in the 20 or so years since I'd semi-retired. My fellow detectorists will appreciate my main weapon back in the day was a Fisher CZ-6a, then a Minelab ExplorerXS, with a Tesoro Sidewinder as my backup. In the interim, the Fisher had been traded and the Minelab had just given up the ghost. Which left me with the powerful but very simple Sidewinder.
So I started researching a nice entry-level machine. And without telling him, I had a brand new Minelab Vanquish 440 drop--shipped to his house for Christmas. His wife still hasn't forgiven me.
And after months of crap weather, we finished up work this beautiful Friday afternoon. So I asked if he was ready to try out his new machine. He ran home to get his gear, and I met him at the house. The very house. That same damn house I'd dreamed about.
I took about a half-hour to walk him through the Minelab (very intuitive, a ridiculously low learning curve compared to the machines 20 years ago). I watched him dig a few targets, then set off on my own.
The yard was about as trashy as I expected. But I dug a few dimes and cents here and there. The Sidewinder still had it--though it was practically a toy compared to my guy's Minelab. Rounding the corner towards the front, I got that solid, faint, but crystal clear and perfectly repeatable signal that tells you it's something good and something deep. I carefully dug a conical plug in the moderately damp soil and carefully set the plug aside. There at the bottom of the hole was the unmistakable outline of a coin. A dime by its size. And then the tell-tale glint of silver. For those unfamiliar, clad, nickel, and copper is almost always as black (or dark red) as the soil from which it is retrieved. But not silver. Silver usually looks like silver. Which is, after all, one of the reasons silver IS silver. But this little dime had a thin coating of soil over both sides. My eyes aren't what they used to be (hard to see items close up with bifocal contacts in). But there was a wide field on one side that seem to be saying "Mercury dime" to me. So I trotted over to my contractor to show him the dime. He immediately recognized that it was silver, too.
And let me tell you: The urge to discover what you have by wiping soil across fragile surfaces can be overwhelming. But the waiting can be part of the fun, too. Any silver was wonderful, the idea that it was a Merc was enough to keep me going for another hour and a half.
Finally after many other targets, including at least 3 wheat cents, we called it quits. He had a blast and immediately went to the hardware store to get a new digging tool. I puttered on home to clean my finds (with water!) and get ready for dinner.
Back home I set the dime aside, then scrubbed the wheats with a toothbrush: 1945, 1945-D, and 1954-D. Nothing special, typical for the area. But as I always say (or said, back in the day): If you're finding wheats, you'll find silver.
And then it was time for the reveal. Holding the dime carefully by the rim, I set the tap at medium low and moved the dime into the stream.
Imagine my surprise...
The moral of the story: Dream big. Because that buried treasure really is right there where you think it is. You just have to go find it.
--Severian the Lame