Friday, May 30, 2014

Biggest Treasure Finds Across the Globe by Michael Bernzweig

You don’t have to play the lottery to get rich. With a LOT of luck and a decent metal detector, you too can join the “winner’s club.” All around the world, there are stories of people uncovering treasure. To some treasure hunters, a find is only as good as its monetary value. But to others, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Relic hunters, like the “Diggers” of the National Geographic Channel, place more value on a hard-to-find military flat button than something with more face value. If you’re a history enthusiast, unearthing an artifact holds dearer to you than finding an expensive gold bracelet at the beach.


It’s always interesting to stay tuned to metal detectorist’s big finds- whether surfing the internet or reading the latest issue of Western & Eastern Treasures. You may have noticed the recent reports of shipwreck discoveries. This is largely due to technological advances in marine salvage metal detection equipment. Companies like Tampa, Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration invest a staggering amount of time and money into finding lost shipwrecks. According to the company’s president, their work is paying off tenfold. Odyssey recovered over 61 tons of silver bullion in June 2013 from the SS Gairsoppa which sunk in 1941 off the coast of Ireland. The cargo has yielded a total of 2,792 silver ingots, or 110 tons. And that’s just one wreck! Odyssey and many other marine salvage companies are fully invested.


Lucky Folks who Struck it Rich!

Here are a few of the most exciting treasure finds in recent months. Every day individuals are locating metal detecting finds all around us.  All of these hoards were located with a metal detector, with the exception of the North California windfall. Ironically, the $10 million gold coin hoard was spotted in plain sight. But a metal detector would have picked up the canisters years earlier.  


-          California Couple Finds $10 Million in Gold Coins

This is a truly amazing story and an inspiration to treasure hunters everywhere! A Northern California couple was taking their normal leisurely walk when they noticed an old rusty can sticking out of the ground under a large tree. It was on their own property—a sprawling hilly area that happens to be in Gold Country. What struck the woman who bent over and picked it up is that the can appeared to be dated and eroded, but the lid was firmly intact. When the pair opened the can, they were shocked to see it was full of mint-condition gold coins. They dug around the area- uncovering a total of 8 canisters filled with 1,427 gold coins dating from 1847 to 1894. According to the Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, some of the coins are so rare that they could sell for $1 million each. Interestingly, the coins were placed neatly in the canisters in chronological order. The dates and method used indicate that whoever buried them was using the ground as their bank. David Hall, who authenticated the coins said, "Somebody could have buried them and then died before they let anybody know where they were." Prior to this hoard, the most recent land-based gold coin discovery took place in Jackson, Tennessee in 1985 when construction workers stumbled upon $1 million in gold coins.


-          Treasure Hunters Uncover Twynholm Silver Coins

Two men from Scotland have uncovered what is believed to be the largest collection of medieval silver coins ever found using metal detectors. Gus Paterson and Derek McLennan, from Ayrshire, Scotland, discovered the coins in a field in Twynholm in December 2013. After several return visits, their haul tops 300 coins. The men conducted quite a bit of research prior to their search and targeted that particular field. They were on the verge of giving up when Paterson’s detector hit on the first two coins. The value of the silver coins has not been made public and the men will turn the medieval coins over to the Crown as treasure-trove.


-          Nibelung Treasure or another Trove?

In February, 2014, an amateur archaeologist unearthed a treasure trove of gold and silver in a wooded area in western Germany. His find is estimated to be worth approximately $1.37 million. German residents are left to wonder if these jewels are part of the legendary Nibelung treasure. The Nibelung treasure once belonged to a German king who was said to have buried them along the Rhine. Although they have been sought after for centuries, this enormous bounty is the only one to resemble the storied treasure. Authorities recently seized the gold and silver, as it was reportedly dug up illegally by a man with a metal detector.


If you’ve got the metal detecting bug you can discover some of the best underwater metal detectors by doing your research online. Just imagine if your metal detector find was all over the headlines!   


Michael Bernzweig manages in Southborough, MA. He has written on the subject of treasure hunting and metal detecting since the mid 1980’s. He enjoys traveling with his metal detector and helping to educate others in the correct use of metal detectors in their explorations.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Hands Free Carrying

The one big problem I found with dowsing and detecting simultaneously is that you need to use both hands and therefore you have no hand free to carry a digging implement. Small digging implements can be carried in a finds bag and for a long time I carried a ‘T’ handled foot assisted trowel on a tool belt, which has worked reasonably well. But now metal detectors go considerably deeper than they have in the past, it has become necessary to use a small spade. In fact I use a Draper Mini Spade with D Handle. The digger is 720mm (28in) long and has a rounded point hardened steel blade with foot bars. The high strength Glass fibre shaft makes it extremely strong yet light, weighing just under a kilogram (2.2lbs). Now I have been able to drag this spade quite successfully by fitting a quick release loop through the D handle and attaching that to a tool belt. That’s fine on a beach or grass or bare earth (it even leaves a trail so you can see where you’ve been) but if, as I often do, you search among growing crops then the crop is likely to be damaged and the farmer won’t be happy. So I needed a way to carry the spade without it making contact with the ground.

I came across the Bigg Lugg belt hook pictured above (there is also the McGuire-Nicholas 93333 Monster Hook Cordless Drill Holder Holster Belt Clip), which after some experimenting has proved to be the ideal solution. I first tried using the hook on my trouser waist belt on the opposite side to my detector, the problem with that was that the spade acted like a pendulum and kept swinging too close to the detector head and causing a signal. I then remembered, Phil, a detectorist who sadly had lost one arm in a motorcycle accident. Phil used a belt hook to carry his spade behind him, although I didn’t realise at the time why he carried his spade in that position. Once I moved the hook round to the rear, searching became nice and silent once more (until I hit a target, that is). An added bonus was that if I moved too fast the spade tapped gently on the back of my legs to remind me to slow down.

Another slight problem remained, which was the weight of the spade on my waist belt made my trousers slip downward and to keep pulling them up was a bit of nuisance. I resolved that one by using a separate dedicated belt for hook and spade. So I can now dowse and detect simultaneously on any terrain without any distractions.