Celtic Festivals and Abused Silver

First a little bit about yesterday, where the family whet to the Celtic Classic, in Bethlehem, which claims to be the best Celtic music festival in the world.  It may be, but I’ve been to better  There is no question in my mind however, that it is the best free Celtic festival in the Mid-Atlantic area.  It was good, and we will probably be regular attendees going forward.

We, of course, went to see Barleyjuice, who nailed it in spades, and were by far the best Celtic rock fusion band we saw on the day, (and the only band on the day that we saw who managed an encore). But, an honorable mention goes to Girsa; we had not heard this band before, but will go out of our way to do so going forward.  A six piece all female outfit wielding the traditional Celtic instruments (including dueling accordions (are you kidding me?), but sadly, no bagpipes).  Good stuff tho — its online, check it out if you like this sort of music.

But, the highlight of the day was a band called Brother.  A fusion of Celtic and Australian tribal music with some electronic wizardry thrown in, but were not remotely close to sounding like an electronic band.  Are you kidding me?  A three piece outfit: polyrhythmic drums, bagpipe/guitar/vox, dithery-doo/keyboards/sampling/sequencing/playback.  Are you kidding me?  Incredible sound.  We’ll be doing more research, especially in regards to whether the online sound is as good as live, but its time to move onto the silver.

And the silver is this.  I didn’t expect to het out today, but I managed to, and found some abused silver.  Silver is rarely abused, but I got a couple of ‘em today.  Check out the first one –

Are you kidding me?  I almost threw the thing in the trash pouch, as I thought it was an iron false, but I saw the parts of a merc on one side.

I worked on this thing for 45 minutes to get the iron crap off of it.  First thing I found was that the date was a 1916.  Next thing I found was that the condition was likely XF-40 (ex external damage), based on the lines on the fasces.  Finally, looking at the mintmark area, it was ambiguous as to whether there was a mintmark or not (and that is a big deal on 1916 mercs, for those who don’t know).  I worked the crap off the coin as much as I could, hoping for no D mintmark (as who would want their 16D to be this train wreck), and fortunately, as near as I can tell, there is no mintmark.

All I can say is that it is nice that the E-Trac can find such a coin encrusted in iron.

The other silver was better, but not much better.  A 1914 barber dime, also ferrous abused (as is evident in the pic below).  Also pulled a 1919 buff and 2 wheaties, 1916 and 1918.  This site has now surrendered 13 coins, all dated from 1905 to 1920.  Below are the two silvers and the buff; I’m too embarrassed to show the front of the 1916 merc; it is a train wreck.

Another Good Turn

Yesterday I alluded to today’s schedule being another good turn, and that was this — a local historical society contacted me recently about detecting a property of theirs to look for a specific artefact, and a specific class of artefacts (I alluded to this a few weeks ago).

I’m of course gonna be vague, cause any detectorists who read this will be on it like flies on, well, you know, if I give details, but today was the day I finally met up with these people at their property.

I did not find the specific artefact.  In fact, after reading the site, and my research, I suggested that it was unlikely that such would be found.  But the other class of artefacts was an outside possibility, so I spent a good three hours kicking around the property.  I did not find anything in that class of artefacts either, but, I did find something in the class of the original specific artefact!  Are you kidding me? I wonder if that even makes sense?  I dunno, and it was totally unexpected, but I am totally stoked, and hope the historical folks like it.  (Maybe someday I’ll write up the details — too bad about all the ‘holes out there who would jump the site prevent a writeup at this time).

I also found a handful of coins on the property, none more than an inch deep – a 1918 merc in very nice condition, a pair of indians (1905 and 1907), and three wheaties, the newest a 1920.  I don’t know if they will want these or not, but of course I’ll offer them.  Outside the merc, they are pretty abused, tho the one IH is at least recognizable.

Semi-key Merc Today

Back to the site from the other day that gave up 4 silvers including a reale, and I pulled a ’46 rosie, and a ’26S merc.  The ’26S is one of the few mercs I’ve pulled that’s worth a bit more than melt value, and that’s always fun (its worth about $10-15 bucks).

This site has now given up 13 silvers and 2 coppers.  I didn’t expect much at all when I first started out here, and it was pretty bleak for a while, but persistence pays off.  14 silvers from a site is sort of a magic number (nevermind); it is a level where I do a farewell farewell hunt, so maybe tomorrow, but I have another “good deed” appointment tomorrow, and it may rain, so we’ll see.

Good Turn for the Day

Did my good turn for the day.  There is this website that hooks up people who have lost wedding rings and stuff with metal detectorists who will attempt to find the item for them.  The detectorist gets an e-mail — so and so has lost a ring, hook up with them and help them find it.  If you hook up, they will tell you the approximate area they think they lost it, and you go out and look for it.

Well,I hooked up, and after about a half hour of gridding their front yard, I found the ring.  Whohoo!

Economists are interested in this sort of stuff.  The question is: what percentage of detectorists who get hooked up in these situations pretend they can’t find the item, when, if fact they actually did, they pocket it rather than tell the owner they found it?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I am guessing it is in the 20-30% range.  Could be higher.  Obviously a very difficult study to put on (tho savvy economists dying for a Ph. D. could leverage this web site, and a couple of hidden cameras, to do it;  I hope someone does — this is a paper I would kill to read).  (There are some papers on cheating in this fashion, but they tend to deal with hidden cameras in the break room counting who puts a dollar in the honor system cup for bagels and the like.  The evidence suggests that the percentage of cheaters is higher, but it is interesting to posit, as the value of the cheating increases, paradoxically, the incidence of cheating would decline.  That’s why its interesting).

Economists tend to be a cynical lot, so perhaps I am being too cynical at 20-30%.  I do know of one asshole on one of the forums who found a wedding ring, knew who its owner was, and then held it for ransom.  So, at least the anecdotal evidence suggests a percentage greater than 1%.

Well, there’s much more to write on this subject, including the evolution of irrational altruism itself in a dog eat dog world, and the fact that the first time I did this, the ring I found was worth $18,000 (and I knew this beforehand), but I also honorably returned it to the owner in that case, but I want to watch CSI now instead of writing more.  Don’t you?

Four Silvers Today

Got out today to a very stingy site, and was surprised that it gave up 4 silvers and 7 wheaties. The first one was turned out to be an almost smooth 1 reale Spanish Silver, at 7-8 inches, coming in at 12-41 on the E-Trac.  I’ve found a couple of coppers at this site, so the potential for old silver has always been there, but this is my first reale from this site, and 6th Spanish silver of my career.  Sadly, it is also one of the most abused.

Two of the other silvers were hard as well, one was ferrous affected, and one was on its side.  It look quite a bit of work to get the latter, as is rang out as an obvious silver, but pinpointed about 6 inches off.  The final silver was a slam dunk; they are fun.

I really do believe the 13 inch coil was paying dividends today, especially on the reale, as those are thin, and it was deep.

Yesterday’s Hunt

This past week, I caught a nasty virus, and did not metal detect all week, nor did I feel up to research.

But, a friend of mine sent an invite to hunt some private properties on Sunday.  I felt not great, but OK enough to do it, so I jumped at the opportunity.

And I got 9 wheaties, 1 silver quarter, a 1919 buffalo nickel, and a 19 gram fragment of a silver spoon (that’s alot, as these things go).  It was an awesome hunt, and the best part was the owner of one of the properties (a 1730′s farmhouse, giving us a tour of the house).  My friend got 4 silvers and 13 wheats.  There’s more color that could be added to the writeup of the hunt (its all good), but I’m still a bit sick, and just want to hit the publish button and watch a movie.

Two Colonial Coppers Today

Two colonial coppers today.  That is a personal record.  Colonial coppers are quite hard, at least for me, and at least in Chester County.  Out of the nearly 20,000 coins I’ve dug, I think I’ve dug less than 10 of ‘em, and one of them was dug in New England, where they are much more common.  Sadly, like all CC coppers, they are abused beyond belief, but old coins are still fun to find, and part of the fun is figuring out what they are.  Also dug a musket ball (and a rather nice one, as these things go), and an old button.

The first one is a 1786 draped bust Connecticut copper.  If you use your imagination, you can see “CONNEC:” on the right, and its placement, with the colon, is consistent with this variety.

The second copper took a bit of work to identify.  Originally I thought it would have to be scored a smootie, tho I thought I could make out a bust that is consistent with a liberty cap or draped bust large cent.

But, it turned out to be consistent with a Machin’s Mill variety, a knockoff of a King George III, made circa 1786/1787.  You can make out the “IV” in “GEORGIVS”, the “II” in “III”, and the “REX” (well, you can’t really, unless you know what to expect on these things).  This, in the size of this coin, is also consistent with a Virginia halfpenny (1773), and a Vermont copper variety (1788), but drawing a straight line from the V across the bust (yeah, there is a bust there), lines up with a line in the King’s robe, and transects below the “REX”, which is only consistent with a couple of Machin’s MIlls varieties, so that’s how we score it.

These are my 67th and 68th career coppers, and what is interesting, is that 20 of them have been found at this one site.  Not only that, 19 of those 20 have been found in a rather small area (along with several other domestic artefacts).  That is astounding, as these things go.  Of those 19, many are unidentifiable, but of those that are, the newest is 1787 (and common sense would suggest that the smoothies are even older)

So, what was here?  Who knows, but no question in my mind that something was.  I’ve never seen anything on a map, except for one 1700s map that shows a road, but no dwellings.  That road does not appear on early 1800s maps.  However, 19 coppers (and perhaps more), is inconsistent with a 1700′s dwelling that may have been along the road.  That’s a ton of money to have been lost in those days, for a single dwelling.  It is a mystery likely to never be solved (at least by me), and believe me, I’ve spent a good bit of time at historical societies poking at it over the last 3 years.

New England Silver

Roadtrip to New England to work on a letterboxing project I agreed to do (which I ended up not being real motivated to do, in the end), but the ulterior was to test my big coil at a park I’ve been to a couple of times before, where the targets are really scarce, and really deep, but its also a place where I’ve gotten 2 reale Spanish silver.

But when I got there, this huge section had just been freshly mowed (this park is massively huge, BTW).  I don’t live in this area, of course, but I have been here a couple times previous, and hunted it with a couple locals, and I was fairly certain that this section certainly hadn’t been mowed this year before, and perhaps not for several years (and is rarely mowed), based on its look the last time I was there and conversations with the locals.

So, I focused there instead of the mowed area where I planned to test my coil, and in the somewhat little time I had, I got 9 wheaties, 1 silver, and about 10 bottlecaps.  The oldest wheaties are 1918 and ’19. Terrible ratios (I’m at about 2.38 wheaties per silver), but way more deep targets than the mowed section would have given up (in the same amount of time you might get 2 old coins, and not a chance at a deep bottlecap).

(As an aside to newbies — deep bottlecaps are the most valuable thing you can dig in a hunted out park outside of the silver itself — they are a tell that the section was not hunted hard in the 80s, when machines could not tell bottlecaps from coins (modern machines still have trouble with this as well, and at old sites, you have to dig ‘em, cause they can be the more exotic silvers or coppers, and sometimes even a normal silver.  So, lots of deep bottlecaps are also a tell that it hasn’t been hunted well in modern times either, at least that has been my experience)).

As for the big coil in the hunted out section, I did not get a ton of time to test it, but I only found one deep conductive target, some sort of large copper washer, so its not like the deep coins were flying out of the ground with the big unit, and this was sort of the perfect test site — hunted out, and minimal mineralization as far as I can tell.  But, it was not a long enough test.

Recent Hunts

Got out for a bit on Monday and today,  Got a couple of buffs (both with dates) and 5 wheaties, but no silver on Monday.  Got a couple of rosies, and no wheaties today. Also got a copper today, but it is a smoothie, and we don’t do pics of smoothies around here.  It counts tho, and it is my 21st large copper of the year.  Not bad, as these things go, I guess.

Not sure if I’ll blog on the “dilemma”, or not.  Cool problem, tho.  Did get some feedback — don’t give us economic thought experiments — teach us how you find silver.  Well, not sure how to do that, the dilemma is much more interesting, but I will say one of today’s silvers had a CO of 37 and was only 4 inches deep.  It was totally affected by ferrous, and no doubt its situation bamboozled the competition, as the site I’m on has been hunted hard.  Not really sure how to teach: “buy an E-Trac and put in the time and effort to learn how to use it”, but here is an attempt — when you get something like this, and you are in “deep on/fast off”, switch to “deep off/fast on”, to see if you can get better separation.  Didn’t work in this case cause I think the ferrous was big and right under it, but sometimes it does.


As I alluded to in yesterday’s post, I have an interesting post to push that one off the top of the blog, but first a bit of housekeeping.  As I suggested yesterday, its RIP for the “stories”.  Its been fun, and they have totally served their purpose over the past 6 months (more than you could know, “you” of course, requiring a semiosis with the reader (OK, they are really dead now :) )), but its “Adieu, Adieu” (and those who really get my blog get it).

Secondly, if you want to actually read a good metal detecting blog, read Pocketspill. I do. He’s a smart guy.  You’ll learn alot more there then here, unless, of course, your area of interest is semiotics or economics (not to disparage Pocketspill’s expertise in those disciplines, of course).  But, I think we all want to learn more about metal detecting, which is easier than the former, and harder than the latter.

So, onto the Dilemma.  This stuff is good .  Economists love thinking about this stuff (otherwise they would be idiots for becoming economists, wouldn’t they?).  Some write Ph D theses on stuff like this.  The following is a real story from the metal detecting world (and you may have seen it on the forums; if not, maybe you will find this interesting).

This is a thought experiment.  The exercise here, after reading the story, is to describe how you would have acted were you in the principal actor’s shoes, and, most importantly, why? It is not an exercise in judgment of the principal actor. (Economists observe and predict the actions of actors; they do not judge them).

First, a bit of background for my non-metal detecting readers (of which, surprisingly, there are several).  Metal detecting people can skip this.  Silver quarters were minted in and before 1964.  They look very similar to non-silver quarters (1965+) to many, but are worth about 20x as much.  That is, while 4 modern quarters are worth $1, four similarly looking silver quarters are worth about $20.  Here is the difference in appearance –

You also need to know that “coinstar machines”, those machines in the supermarket that turn jars of change into dollar bills, and change a 9.8% “convenience fee” for doing so, clearly state that they do not accept silver coins (and, for non Mid-Atlantic readers of the following story, “mac” means “ATM machine”).

So, here is the story, in the words of the principal actor –

So I went to the supermarket this evening to get some ground beef for chili. I came home and realized i bought the wrong beef. What I bought was a mixture for meatloaf. All ticked off I went back to the supermarket. Went and got what I needed and proceeded to check out. There was a girl about 25 years old at the coin star. I “heard” all of her change getting rejected. She got in line behind me and I looked at her zip lock bag full of coins. I said to her since the coinstart takes about 10% from the total, I will tap mac and give her total face value. Well we sat there counting them out. My hands were shaking as I was doing that. I promptly gave her $70 even for 280 quarters…SILVER QUARTERS THAT IS!!! She needed the cash to do food shopping. Wow I am so glad I picked up the wrong beef!!! I truly believe that saying now that things happen for a reason.

I know some are going to say I ripped her off. Well I look at it as if the coin star took the silver quarters then she would have gotten about $62 back. I gave her the full amount for them. If she knew what they were she didnt care…

They are all Washingtons. No real key dates. One 1950 D that might be a D over S. Either way that is $1453 in melt value . I am still so stoked. What an awesome evening!!!

So, to reiterate the thought experiment, the question is, what would you have done, and why?  E-mail me.  (Comments still don’t work; not that I’m not interested in hearing them, its just that if I turn them on, I get 300 spams a day, and this is my work e-mail, and I can’t suffer that.  Moreover, I’ve passed my days of fighting bad software, been there, done that for 20+ years.  Maybe someday comments will be fixed; that day won’t be today).

BTW, you can google the PA’s story and find the 1000 post thread on another forum if you want to.  You may even find my inane responses. That would be cheating.  If you do that, don’t respond; I’m interested in unaffected responses.  I’ll write how I would have acted next week (and may even include some economics, both mainstream and alternative theory, but this is a metal detecting blog, after all, so don’t bet on it), if I remember to.

1958 Rosie

Lots goin’ on here, so lets roll it.  We don’t do “stories” here anymore, but if we did, that is what this would be.  First problem — this post scrolls off that beautiful “11 Silvers Today” link under “Recent Posts”.  Oh well, all things must pass.

So, today, back to “Chester County’s hardest silver site”, and why not, if it gives up the shiny once in awhile? And the first target of the day was a slam dunk 1958 rosie.  Are you kidding me?  This is either a win for my skill of reading the site to find the location of the slam dunk silver, or inserting my 13 inch unit into the right place,  I’m betting on the latter.  The Detech Ultimate 13 coil is a winner — now pulling 3 silvers out of this hunted out park. (2 others were circumstantial; 2 others were my skill — that makes 7, which, in my logging system, makes it a auto-loggable site, meaning I have to edit the database (yuck).  Who would have thunk it (are you kidding me? — the spelling checker took that — chalk one up for modern linguistics!)  that “Chester County’s hardest silver site” would become loggable.  One of my best sites now (23rd on the list; admittedly a far cry from the top 2, at 140 and 127, respectively)).  So, that paragraph is why we don’t do stories anymore.

So, we titled the entry “1958 rosie”, and above it is, and its cool cause I’ve been looking to fill this hole in my dug rosie album for quite some time.  Previously, I’ve dug all the rosies without a mintmark (and most with a mintmark), but could never dig a 1958.  Now we got one.  Woohoo! (And only 8 in the entire series (all with mintmarks), remain to complete this goal).

But, there’s more.  It wouldn’t be a story (of course, it isn’t a story, just a post that is like what used to be a story, since stories are defunct), if there wasn’t a “more”, and that “more” is this:  When I was detecting “Chester County’s hardest silver site” today, (a public park, BTW, to the newbies to “randy’s Metal Detecting Blog”), some dude comes up to me and sayz — he’s with some local historical society and is looking for a metal detectorist to detect the site of an amusement park that was closed down 100 years ago.  How cool is that?  Are you kidding me?  I sayz yeah –I’ll do it (wouldn’t you?).  The bad news is that my own research (surprised that someone who could write asinine stories could do intelligent research?) located the site, and suggests that it is a very hard site, due to massive undergrowth.  Oh well.

But of course I’ll do it.  It will be fun, and it never hurts to get in good with the municipal and historical society elders, and do the right thing and help them (forget the fact that an economist just wrote this post :-) ).  Good karma from our hobby is a good thing.  Don’t you agree?

But, amazingly, there’s more.  And that “more” is what this post was gonna be, before I unexpectedly was able to get out for a couple hours today; it was to be an entry in the “Friday Afternoon Album” category for a change.  And, it was to be titled “The Holy Trinity”.

Those who used to read my FB posts regarding the FAA know the Holy Trinity to be Sandy Denny, Annie, Haslam, and Maddy Prior.  But, what if there we’re a fourth member?  I’d always thought such a fourth member would be Pat Benetar (and no one can belt it as high and loud as she can, even the Trinity), but the songwriting (and her insistence on following such lame songwriting, rather than doing something majesticly great with those pipes, always disqualified her in my mind), but there is now, not a 4th member, but a 4th nominee, and that is Florence Welsh (better known as “Florence and the Machine”).  Are you kidding me?  Have you heard this stuff?  Yeah, the songwriting still mostly sucks (but it has its moments), but at least it is early in her career.  There is time, and her vox is magic.  Imagine Flo Welsh fronting a band with Richard Thompson on axe and Ashley Hutchings on song selections and arrangements.  Are you kidding me?  I don’t believe in heaven, but if I did, and such heaven excluded the Holy Trinity, that would be my vision of it.

So, why does this matter?  Cause I need a 4 for some letterbox clues.  The obvious 4 is the elements, but its too cliche and too overdone.  So, I was thinking of doing the Holy Trinity (assuming I could find someone to carve it).  One problem, “trinity” doesn’t exactly equal 4, (but close enough for the target audience).  Its a question of who to make the 4th?

Pat Benetar doesn’t make the cut.  Florence Welch has the voice of a goddess, and is Trinity worthy, but doesn’t have enough history, so, I’ve decided to make the 4th member Serj Tankian.  Bet ya didn’t see that coming.  Who sayz they all have to be girls?  Serj is likely the best male rock vocalist of all time (yeah Ronnie James Dio is in there too), and again, despite some catastrophically bad songwriting (but enough good songwriting to make up for it), he has earned the spot.  So, that is the 4 for my letterboxing clues.  We’ll see if anyone carves them.

Nailed it baby!  We’ll maybe not, but exactly what I wanted to do.  Now, a break from detecting.  And, the best part is, that if someone googles “Sandy Denny, Annie Haslam, Maddy Prior, Florence Welch (or Serj Tankian (what are the odds?))”, this page will likely end up on top.  How cool is that?  If you are that person, e-mail me.  (Yeah, nailed it, but what sucks is that this entry will be fronting the blog for a week.  I have something cool to post in the next couple of days to prevent that :) )

Today’s Silver

I didn’t expect to get out much this week (and likely won’t), but did have a few hours at a park I have previously called the “the toughest silver park in Chester County”.

I did get some silver tho, a small peace sign charm, and a silver Q.  This is the first silver Q I have ever gotten from this place, and the funny thing is that I was just thinking that could never get a silver Q from such a hunted out site.  I barely heard it, and it was relatively shallow as these things go (7 inches). It just proves the effects trash and mineralization have.  I wonder if the 13 inch unit helped on this one or not.  (I also dug a very deep piece of high tone junk, and this is significant, cause you never dig deep high tone junk at hunted out parks).

The silver charm is also a win, cause tho it was 4 inches deep, it is small and was in trash.  Its nice to know the Ultimate 13 coil can fish half-dime sized silver target out of trash, as big coils can be iffy on small targets in trash.  Now I just have to find an actual half dime — been a long time (tho I did get that 1890 “fish scale” Canadian 5 cent silver piece with the big coil recently, that was not in trash, and is not quite the same).

The silver Q is my 6th silver coin from this site.  I did at least 4 or 5 good hunts at this site before finding my first.  I knew a guy in New England who claimed to find silver at hunted out parks, and I always said to myself, I bet you won’t find any here.  Now, I’ve found a few.  Just goes to show that there is more skill to this game than outsiders realise, and that you can improve.

More Wiz-War Cards

After some very nice playtesting this weekend, I have added a second set of homebrew Wiz-War cards to my ongoing project to keep the Classic Edition alive and expanding (at least in my mind).  This project was previously documented here.  At some point, you do feel like your are getting near an optimal point, and continuing to throw stuff into the soup will dilute the original away, but it is still fun, especially if you remember to keep it more on the line of variations on a theme rather than too many wholesale new things, but a bit of the latter is good.

As for dirt fishing, taking a bit of a break (at least for this weekend, and maybe a bit more), as there are lots of projects going on, and I am a bit burnt out after some recent events.