Happy Thanksgiving

At least it was for these guys, being spared another miserable winter in the frozen dirt.

The E-Trac wasn’t so happy about it, as it was only 28 degrees.  The manual says don’t operate it at less than 32 degrees, and that is rarely a problem for me since I don’t operate below that temp either.  The battery had one bar after just an hour of detecting, and the cold was definitely affecting the screen, as it was very sluggish to update.

So, it was a couple of 60s rosies in the same hole with a wheatie, and a ’42 merc a couple of feet away.  The rest of the three hour hunt was dead, save for a couple of stray wheaties.  At least it was nice to see silver in the hole again; it had been about a week.

The Random Field Theory

I didn’t find any silver today.  I found 2 hours of light rain, 36 degrees, and misery in the field that produced the bust half.  Yesterday was 5 hours in the same field, where it was colder and windier.  At least it was sunny, more or less.  And, at least I found a 1919 wheatie.  Whohoo.  Wheaties are hard to find (at least at this place, nearly as hard as bust silver), so we’ll take ‘em.

Anyway, I was discussing the concept of the random field theory on one of my Facebook groups when I posted the bust half, which basically says: if you walk into a random field, and throw enough time at the problem, eventually you will get an old silver (at least around here).  We all know its true, cause if you hunt a park from the 50s, and are digging reales and coppers, it has to be true, assuming the thing was a field before it was a park, and the dirt isn’t imported fill.  Pretty safe assumptions with just the tiniest bit of research.

So, I’ve found 9 reales, 8 of which were either directly from fields, or from parks on land that used to be fields (the 9th from a colonial era house property).  Same with my 2 bust silvers and, I’ll bet, most of my coppers, (tho I didn’t bother to go thru them and check).

Being a numbers guy, I was curious to quantify the random field theory, at least for this field, for future reference.  I suppose if I do another field site, I’ll refer back to these numbers, so I might as well bore myself with them now, while they are fresh in my mind, since I don’t otherwise track this stuff (in particular, I don’t track the time I spend detecting, just the finds and the sites).

Well, that takes alot of patience, doesn’t it?  1 silver per 10 hours; 2 older coins per 10 hours.  But. at least the silvers were worth it.  For reference, I think a reasonable run rate is 1 silver per hour at a normal site, a “honeyhole” 2 or more per hour, worst case 1 per 2 hours (which is were we’ve been more often that not this season).

Interesting that I didn’t find a single nickel or IH in this field.  And, unlike park hunting, I dug just about every repeatable tone, regardless of where it was on the range.

For relics, I found 2 buttons (one copper flat, one Waterbury), 2 colonial buckles, the copper hair thing, and a musket ball.

For reference, I estimate that the field was about 7.15 acres.  I used Google Earth and this website to estimate.  (I’m surprised I could not find a way to do that directly in GE; I’m sure its there, but this is close enough).

So, on average, it takes me about 4 hours to cover an acre in a sparse field.  (I’m sure all this data is just fascinating.  Its all for my own future reference in case I decide to do another field project, which I’m sure I will someday).

So that’s that.  I usually don’t have this sort of patience, but it worked out for this field, IMHO. given that half dollar.  (I’ve done this sort of thing before, and the results, tho I never took down the data, seemed to be about the same, without, of course, the big fish, but more abused coppers).

As for the site, there are several other fields there, but my permission is suspended on Monday, the start of rifle season.  After the hunters are gone, not sure if I will go back, or not.  After finding the bust half, you want to clear the entire site, but the data show, as they always do, that painful regression to the mean.

But, there’s more.  Don’t get me started on stats.  I love ‘em to death, and am always looking for the cause.  That’s why economists become economists.

There’s the issue of the dead zone.  I haven’t found a single silver coin dated after 1857 and before 1892.  That’s what I call the dead zone.  Why not?  I’ve found 16 silver coins dated 1857 and earlier (9 Spanish, 4 seated, and 1 trime).  What’s going on here?  I really expected one in that field.

What happened in 1857 that could explain this?  I dunno, but I do know that large coppers went away, Spanish silvers were decreed non-current, and we went to smaller, lower tone cents that year, and nickels (also lower tone), in 1866 or so.  By 1891 (the end of the seated era), industrialization and urbanization were the buzzwords of historical economics.

And, while I am not a historical economist, I’m unaware of any long term economic event (such as the Great Depression, which explains why coins of that era are harder than expected to find), that would explain the dead zone.

Is it technical (VDI of pocket change changing), is it economic, is it chance, or is it some other socioeconomic factor such as farm labor migrating from the owner and family (who may have had change), to laborers, who may not have (simply working for room and board)?

Who knows?  Maybe a combination of all these things.  But, I sure would like to start scoring some dead zone era silvers as well (not that I’m complaining — its more a case of: if you see statistics trending a certain way in any domain, and can ferret out the underling cause (and remember, correlation is not causation — not understanding that tends to lead to irrational superstition), you can generally perform better in that domain.  That’s what we try to do here, FWIW.  In any case, my guess is that you have to hit urban sites, and that is hard, at least around here.

Well, I’m sure that foray into statistical metal detecting was interesting :)   I don’t care.  I’m still jacked about that bust half.  Anyway, I think I’ll be glad I recorded these stats somewhere down the line.  We’ll see.

More Field Silver

Not as exciting as the last one, but the recent field that produced the 1830 bust half produced a silver dime yesterday –

Gorgeous, don’t you think?  We’ll, I do, especially as silver coins are really hard to find, and this field has now quietly turned into a 3 silver site.  They can’t all be bust silvers and reales, now can they?  And what if I did dig another bust silver, could I even get away with posting it?  Would anyone believe be? Too effin’ bad I didn’t get the chance to try, cause I was certainly hoping for another one.  This was a five hour hunt that produced not only the rosie, but a toasted wheatie and zincoln as well.  Field hunting can try your patience.

And today was another 5 hour hunt, where I pulled exactly 2 coins, both of them zincolns.  Are you kidding me?  (Could have been IH’s or draped bust half dimes, both of which ring up the same, in my experience).

I was considering making this Farewell Farewell day, cause it is a Friday, but I really want to cover the entire field, and get a coin count and other statistics (us economists, always worrying about numbers, but it does help, at least it helps me), for future reference, but I could not finish it today.  And besides, I had gotten a silver coin on 3 of the 4 hunts, 2 of them really old, so why not try to complete the site?  May be another big fish here.  Not that anyone will believe me, but that will be a fun problem to have.  And besides, its the way the mind works — score big in a certain zone, the mind wants to hang out in that zone (at least mine does).

I did have a few exciting high tones today, and this was the best.  I dug 12 inches (measured), to dig this treasure.  Just proves the E-Trac can nail deep targets in clean soil, cause it ain’t that thick, and it ain’t that large.

I’m not a relic guy, but my best guess is that it is something that women put in their hair (or may have put in their hair 200 years ago). I don’t know what the term is, but I do know my sister had similar looking things made of plastic that she put in her hair in the 70s.  This one is made of copper. Hopefully Pink will bail me out on this one :)

All I can say is that I think it is a nice tell.  Hopefully the lady of the house dropped a few silvers nearby while she was messing with her hair.  We’ll see, but I’m not too optimistic.

Old Button

I didn’t go metal detecting today.   I should have, cause it was nice and sunny (tho a bit on the cold side), and all you want to do is get back to a big fish site as soon as possible (even tho you know rationally that the odds of another one are vanishing low). Instead, I felt like taking a day off and savoring my victory.

But, I did process this button I found yesterday on the same hunt.  I didn’t feel like processing it yesterday, cause I was too busy celebrating.  Its not much, and I’m not one to get too excited about old buttons, but its c. 1830-1840 or somesuch and gilded. Normally I would whine along the lines of “why can’t it be a coin from the same era?”.  Fortunately, I don’t have to do that anymore.

I did take the time today to write up that bust half in Minelab’s Find of the Month contest.  I hope I win.  If I don’t, I’ll be curious to see what does.  The thing about my coin is not only is it a big fish, but it is in stunning, problem free condition.  That seems like a double whammy that is hard to trump, and I hope the judges agree.  We’ll see.  (That said, I’ll prolly forget to check back).

I entered that contest once before, with this entry.  I didn’t win.  I should have. cause I think its a hard story to trump, and I don’t play games I don’t expect to win, tho, admittedly, I never checked back to see what actually did win.  In any case, this is an amazing quote from that story: “including a streak of 7 straight hunts where I pulled at least 10 silver coins” — Are you kidding me?  Those days are gone forever, but yesterday’s find sort of puts a stamp of contentment on my career, so that I long for those days slightly less.

Big Fish Baby !!!!!!!!!!!

Here it is –

And here is is, all cleaned up –

Oh my, it is a beautiful coin for something that has come out of the dirt.  I think if you click in the pic, you get a bigger one, and it looks even prettier.  I am so jacked about this one, baby!  22761 coins dug, and just my second bust silver.  My first was in the spring of 2010.  That was a very long time ago.  That’s how hard they are to find, at least for me.

Came in deep bouncing between an 01-42 and 22-something.  Could be ferrous, maybe a copper.  Got down about 8 inches and saw the rounded silver edge, and knew it was a silver coin, figured it was 2 reale, popped it out and saw the eagle first, and my mind instantly said walker, flipped it over, saw the bust, and I knew I had my second big fish!  Big fish baby!

Detected for about an hour more.  Found a gilt button.  I didn’t even bother to process it.  I wasn’t sure why I was still detecting.  I couldn’t focus.  I just wanted to get home and process this baby.  Its an awesome coin, and I don’t care if I never dig another silver again.

Big Fish Baby !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More Woods Silver

Back to the 7 silver site in the woods, the one with all the wheaties the first time I was there, and no silver this past Friday.  Just cleaning up the last section, and pulled a pair of silver coins.

Its kinda fun to just be moving thru thick woods, and randomly get a silver coin.  And it was pretty random, as I had no reason to know where things might have been, or not, in this section of the site.

The Q was interesting, as it came in as a 10-42 on the E-Trac, which is really weird.  I thought it had a chance to be a thin dime as they come in low sometimes, but turns out there was a wheatie above it, and wheatie below it.  I expected a wheatie, of course, and was quite pleased to see that shiny edge sticking out.  For a moment I thought — oh my, it must be a bottle cap.

Got another 10-42 a bit later, and no such luck this time, a greenie meenie wheatie.  Pulled a total of just 6 coins on the hunt, 4 wheaties, 2 silvers, and no clad.  Sweet.  Pretty sparse site except for that first day when I dug close to 50 older coins.

Well, that’s that, the site is closed, a 9 silver site, about 50 wheaties, a couple of buffs, an IH, and a toasted draped bust half cent.  Time to move on.

Interesting site tho.  Turns out what it was was the site of an old town that was first settled in the early 1800s, but had become overgrown.  There was an old ballfield on both the 30s and 50s aerials, and I had been drooling over the site ever since I got an MD.  The problem was that the woods were always too thick, until recently some of them were cleared for construction.  Got in there on that first day, and did quite well, tho only one really old coin back to the early days of the town.  Too bad on that.  My guess is that it was a virgin site, as it was pretty undetectable due to the vegetation where the ballfield was.  I had been in the less dense sections of the woods in the past, but never found anything, but I have better tenacity and technique these days, and the confidence that there was stuff there, and was able to get a couple more.  It was sparse tho, outside the ballfield, but the town was small as well.


Pulled a couple of rosies today.  Woohoo.  Silver coins are hard to find, so we’ll take ‘em all.

The last time I was at this site was in May, 2010, when I was still learning the E-Trac.  I pulled a walker on that day, and a few deep wheats, but not much else,  I wrote the site off at the time, due to the low density.

But, you learn alot in the intervening years, and I was to meet friends for lunch in that direction, so I figured I’d give the site another go,  It was still really low density, and every time I said — just one more rank of the grid — if I don’t get a good tell, I’m outta here — I seemed get a good tell, so I soldiered on to a rather pedestrian hunt which eventually produced the rosies, on the same rank of a grid, about 20 minutes apart.

It might be another 2 or 3 years before I’m back here, as there isn’t much left of the site, but at least it is another old legacy site that I’m able to update in my database.

Did have 2 hunts earlier in the week, each of which might otherwise merit their own entries, but we don’t like blogging failure.

The first was at the field site that produced that really sweet 1803 half reale, as well as that hideous large copper.  I spent 5 more hours in that field, and did not dig a single coin.  Are you kidding me?  I guess that is what field hunting is.  I was praying for clad, just give me something to dig.  I only got one high tone in 5 hours, and it was a colonial era buckle.  Not only that, my battery died — this is a fully charged, supposedly 18 hour E-Trac battery, that died after 5 hours.  Are you kidding me?  I hate leaving time on the table, especially at a permission site.  Fortunately, the permission doesn’t expire, and I will be back.  Field hunting has a certain contenting appeal to me, even if you rarely ever dig anything.

The second was Farewell Farewell at the other site I’ve been working, the one that produced a sixspot the other day.  Dug plenty more wheats, met my wife for lunch, drank Victory beer at a local restaurant, went out and dug more wheats, and didn’t even close out the site.  Maybe this week, we’ll see.

Field Hunt

In some entry last week I speculated on the beauty and contentment of just doing a long field hunt, and after the difficult detecting of the past few days, I decided to throw the Big Unit on the E-Trac and hit some fields.  These fields are associated with the house where I found the holed 1818 large copper last week.

I don’t get much when I hunt fields, but I was surprised what I got today.  Started out pretty lame — bottle cap, zincoln, memorial penny (are you kidding me?, when hunting an old field, you have to dig all this crap, and, unlike park hunting, where bottlecaps are almost better than silver as tells, they suck here).

But, about an hour in, I got a large copper, just 3 inches deep.  That gives you the killer instinct and the confidence to tough out the cold and wind.  The copper turned out to be garbage, but was valuable as a confidence builder.

Pressing on, I get a buckle and a musket ball.  Some guys get excited about these relics; I’m not one of them, but at least they are nice 200 year old tells.  We’ll take ‘em, cause you press on with hope.

Yikes that copper is ugly.  But after these nice tells, I got something not so ugly, a sweet 1803 1/2 reale.

When it popped out, I was hoping for a bigger fish, but we’ll take it.  Silver coins are hard to find, and old silver coins are even harder to find.  This is my 9th reale (in all denominations), compared to just 1 bust silver coin.  I wonder if that ratio is consistent with history.  We’ll call this one a medium fish, and keep hoping and swinging.

Anyway, we press on, and get a beautiful 9-46 sort of signal, I’m thinking I got my big fish now after the LC and the reale, and it turns out to be a 1971 clad quarter in the middle of a field.  Are you kidding me?  Talk about heartbreak hotel.

And even more heartbreak hotel is a deep high tone, the sort of thing that is a large conductive object, and, in the back of your mind, you always think cache, and you dig and you dig and you dig, and eventually you hit this, in the middle of a field –

The lid of a jar!  Are you kidding me?  But, just the lid.  No jar, no cache.  Heartbreak hotel.  We’ll take the 1/2 reale (who wouldn’t?), but I felt so close, yet so far away, from the big fish today.


Monday, went back to the site from Sun which produced 6 silvers (who wouldn’t), and it was pretty much dead outside of the one hot zone.

So, I decided to to something I rarely do, and cross grid the hot zone, given all the older coins I found in that one section, and not much anywhere else.

As a matter of explanation, when I say I “grid out a site” (which I almost always do), what I really do can prolly best be described as “cornrowing”, not truly “gridding”.  I go down one rank of a section of the site, then come back right next to that rank the other way.  I call it gridding but it really means covering every inch of the site as efficiently as possible, while neither missing any of it, or going over any of it twice (both, of which, IMHO are inefficient except at the most ferrous infested sites).

What I call “crossgridding” is what I think some other people call “gridding”.  That means cornrowing as above, but then cornrowing the entire section at 90 degrees, thus covering each piece of terrain twice.  I’ve always thought that that was a waste of time, and doing so has rarely produced much for me beyond the original grid.

But, this seemed an appropriate site for it.  First of all, the site has awkward vegetation, making a clean low and slow grid difficult, having to work around awkward obstacles, and secondly, the old coin density just begged for another pass.

So, that’s what I did, crossgridded the dense hot zone, and found exactly one coin.  At least it was a rosie.  We’ll take it.

Well, I dunno if that was pic worthy, but silver coins are really hard to find, so we cherish them all — all hard won.

Tuesday was back to the same site for a shortened hunt, to try to make sense of it — if it has one hot zone, maybe it has another, but I got bupkis, and got sick of the frustrating vegetation, trash, and so forth.  There’s alot of terrain left here, but it is difficult detecting to say the least, so I’ll at least table it for a day, or maybe longer.

I’m writing this on the 13th, but its really for the 12th and has been backdated.  I don’t even have time to blog anymore.


Now that’s more like it.  After 21 straight wheaties without a silver, today’s hunt started out with 4 more, before I finally saw a merc in the hole.  25 straight.  Are you kidding me?

But, it gets worse. After I found the merc, I dug another 23 wheaties in a row, just in today’s hunt! before my second silver of the day, another merc, which is in with a buff.  Unbelievable.  I had one where there were 6 in a hole, and another just past it, with 3.  Not a silver among them.

Things calmed down a little bit; I finished the hunt off with 4 more silver coins, and 12 wheaties, still above my normal ratio, but much better than very recent memory.  The total is an unbelievable 39 wheates on today’s hunt (I’m surprised that isn’t a record for me; turns out my record is 41, but on that day, I dug 23 silvers, and that was a 12 hour hunt.  Today just 6 silvers for a hideous ratio of 6.5:1).

I have no idea what is going on.  I find it hard to believe that it is cherry picking, as the site is old enough to have bust and seated silver, and, if so, you’ve got to dig all of these.  In fact, I found a draped bust half cent (no date, and no detail in the pic), so I know first hand that really old coins that could ring up anywhere have the potential to be here.  I have no idea why the ratio is so whacked, but this could of, and should of, been a 15-20 silver day.  It just wasn’t.

But, I did get a potpourri of old coins.  In addition to the 6 silvers and 39 wheaties (the oldest being 1919), I got 2 buffs, a decent looking 1904 IH, and the abused draped bust half cent.  I only dug 7 clad coins, 2 of which were a 1939 and 1940 nickel, so it was a nice hunt overall, but could have been a blowout if the ratios held true.  Total hunt time was 7 hours.

21 Straight

Never a good title.  That means I’ve dug 21 straight wheaties without seeing a silver coin.  I’m not sure if that is a record for me, but it might be.  Whatever it is, it sucks.  I hate wheaties, cause they prove you have done all the right things, and haven’t gotten the payoff for it.

In all fairness, I haven’t been out alot over the past week, but still, based on a long running ratio, that should have translated into about 8 or so silvers.

Last weekend, I hit a site I have been drooling over for a couple of years.  Its huge, by far the largest site I have ever worked, and it is far from me, meaning it is likely only a weekend site, and I rarely can hunt on weekends.  But, it looks like a 100 silver site, and I ain’t had one of them in quite some time.

I spent 5 hours there last Sunday, and pulled 13 wheaties.  No deep clad quarters, but a deep non-silver high tone religious pendant, and several deep copper objects.  Not sure if the site has been cherry-picked, there are technical reasons for missing the silver but seeing the copper, bad luck, or a combination of all three.  I still think the site has potential, but until you the shiny, you have to be discouraged.

The beginning of the week had me just cleaning up the embankment area of the site from the last entry, where I did manage to find silver.  I expected 2 silvers, and got 6 deep clad quarters instead.  Oh well.  The main part of this site is more or less done (25 silvers), but it also has a huge area which I’ve never spent much time in, cause there seemed no reason to spend much time it it, except another detectorist claimed he found a seated quarter in that zone.  I didn’t believe him (I certainly would not have said that, if true, unless I had cleaned out the zone, so what would be the point?), but it is so huge maybe he didn’t have the patience (but of course he did, who wouldn’t?).  I didn’t find a seated quarter there.  I found a 1912 wheatie, tho.  Maybe I’ll be back, maybe not, it was quite boring.

A couple hours yesterday and today were spent at an old abandoned house site, which was built in 1824.  These sites are hard to work, due to rough ground, brambles, and the like, and tend to be hit and miss (usually miss for me), but a big fish can always lurk at such.  I had a very nice site like this early in the year where I pulled a beautiful 2 reale and semi-key IH. so you never know.

First day (Thursday) was 6 wheaties, no silvers.  Not only that, another detectorist has been there recently; I could see his plugs.  Prolly just a week or so old.  Funny thing is that I pulled wheates from 2 of his plugs.  Weird.  Cherry picker or incompetent, who knows?  The hunt was cut short due to rain.

Today went back to finish it off; I figured 6 wheaties was a good tell, especially with the competition working the site and missing so much, but didn’t get much in the end.  Did, however, get one beautiful, to die for deep high tone, which turned out to be an 1818 largie with a hole.  Always copper.  Always bridesmaid.

Its so rare to see a copper come out of the soil around here in a relatively unabused state, and my luck, the thing has a hideous hole right down the middle.  Should have been a bust quarter, why wasn’t it?  I figure for every 25 coppers you dig, you should get a bust quarter, right?  Its just simple math — 25 cents is 25 cents.  I’ve dug 82 coppers, so I’m owed 3 bust quarters.  Of course, I’ve dug 2 2 reales (2 bits, as it were, which is actually what they were), so there goes 2 of them (Spanish silver circulated much more than American silver in those days), and coppers are easier to detect than silvers, due to the halo.  So, I guess I’m on budget, especially since I also have a seated Q, and the copper era extended into the seated era.  Did that make sense?  it wasn’t supposed to, but it did, at least to me; the endless rationalization of missing the big fish once again and forevermore.

So, I guess the next thing to blather about is that whatchamacallit on the right.  That came in as a deep 12-37, which I figured could be an IH, or, even better, an exotic like a half dime oe 3 center.  Problem was the pinpoint was big, and that rarely ends well.

But, down about 6 inches, out comes this massive piece of iron, at least golf ball size.  Are you kidding me?  Deep iron never falses in the 37s, so I figure there’s more, and, of course, there always is.  Pulled some small copper cruft, and a nail just below the iron, and there was still something there, and it was the whatchamacallit, about 8 inches deep, directly below the golf ball sized iron.  Are you kidding me?  Just shows how amazing the E-Trac is.

Too bad it wasn’t something amazing.  It it silver, tho, at least the outer part of it is.  I have no idea what it is, but it seems to be a copper interior with a silver exterior.  I’m not gonna say silver plated, cause after 200 years, that would have worn off.  So, its some sort of 200 year old semi silver bling.  Kinda cool, I guess.  I imagine in those days, it was a big deal.  Too bad its more or less garbage now.  But here are a couple more views of it, by far the oldest silver (or semi-silver) bling I’ve ever found –

So, that’s that.  Sort of a pedestrian documenting of the hunts sort of entry.  That’s what happens when you are not getting any, I suppose.  The one more odd thing about today’s hunt to mention is that there are endless fields at the site, and I just felt a sort of contentment swinging aimlessly thru these fields hoping to randomly find something (scarily, I found a nice 1 reale this way in the past, so there is something to it, maybe).  It could mean I’ll do more of these sorts of hunts going forward, we’ll see.

Couple O’ Dimes Today

Here they are –

I think its gonna be a short entry.  Dug a couple of silver dimes today, as you can see.  This is at a 23 silver site (now a 25 silver site), that I first hit last spring for 2 silvers, and worked pretty good for 21 more last fall.  A couple of locals had said the site is hunted out, but I managed to pull a walker, reale, a couple of coppers, as well as the remaining 20+ silvers.  Never believe a place is hunted out until you work it yourself.

Today was just cleaning up some loose ends at this site, like I’ve been doing at other sites.  Might as well get ‘em all, if they are there.  The rosie was on an embankment, and I like to think I’m brilliant for pulling silvers from an embankment when the competition ignores embankments, but in this case, its not like that.  Its tough to keep a tight grid on a 35-40 degree embankment, and the coins tend to be at weird angles sometimes.  It was clear that this embankment had been hunted, they just missed one.  Maybe I did too, who knows?

Of course, I’ve had other embankments with a much higher run rate than the surrounding site, just not today.  There is something to it, so keep that it mind.

Well, not as short as I wanted it, but that’s that.  Its been a crazy week, and is only getting crazier.