Dirt Fishing

Vermont Copper Dirt Fishing is my latest obsession. O is not treasure hunting. Letterboxing is simulated treasure hunting. Dirt fishing is the real thing.

Dirt fishing is treasure hunting with a metal detector. The research is real, not contrived. There is no guarantee of success, no one to whine at or pump for clues, and no competition, except a true one with the past and the mix of trash and treasure below your feet. Your research and skill with the machine either leads you to actual treasure, or it doesn't. There is no one to ask if it has "gone missing". No websites to check how many have found it before you. You may be the first to see it in over 200 years. I have been.

I do it for my love of history. I like discovering pieces of the past both in research, and in the field. I like thinking about -- why is this here? What was here before? Who lived here? What was life like? I also like discovering where people were in the past that few know about.

I suck at it. Which is good in a way, as there is alot of room for growth. I have, however, had a few good finds. My best is a Vermont Copper from 1787, pictured on this page. They didn't make all that many of these in the Republic of Vermont, before it became a state. I've also found a silver Spanish half-reale from the 1700s and a big handful of large coppers, which presents quite a mystery to me (due to their location and density), something I intend to research and write a paper on someday.

These George II and III halfpennies, as well as state-produced colonial coppers, circulated in the 18th century, before there was federally minted coinage. Some are counterfeit, some are real (counterfeits are also of 18th century vintage, and were common). I have written up a catalog of the VDI and other details of these finds, for my own future reference, and have speculated on using a metal detector to detect counterfeit large coppers.

I keep a gallery of my meager finds on an external forum. My run of large coppers was interesting enough to be published as a treasure story on White's Electronics web site, and earn me a $100 gift certificate. Whohoo! (buying more gear ...)