Despite my printed pot shot at Mark Schuessler's guest appearance on Relic Roundup Monday, he has kindly given me permission to share his most recent letter to all the FMDAC members. Lest you think I do not like or respect Mark, do a search of Stout Standards for his name.... What this pastime needs is a thousand more Mark Schuesslers.
To: FMDAC Membership
With the start of the year 2013 there is a new national president. I have taken over the helm of the organization. For the last 10 years I have been serving as the legislative officer. I am sure that you saw many emails from me during that time talking about impending legislation or impending detector bans and occasionally asking you to support some positive bills. I also have been writing on those issues in Western & Eastern Treasures and American Digger magazines. I have now moved up the ladder to direct the FMDAC for at least the next two years.
There are many issues with the organization that need to be addressed. As many of you may have noticed our website is down right now. Due to a glitch with a payment/ownership problem it was taken down without our knowledge and took awhile to determine exactly what happened. It is in the process of being rebuilt. Hopefully it will back up shortly, at least in part. When that happens you will see a couple of new additions. We hope that everyone will look in on it often. I will be posting regular updates to it.
Over the many years I feel the organization has strayed from its original intended goals and objectives. Those goals have not changed but they seem to have not had the emphasis that is needed. I will work to bring the group back to those objectives. This will require cooperation from everyone including the membership. We, as the FMDAC, and the hobby need to be much more proactive. We cannot sit by and wait to be slapped in the face. We must start blocking those slaps before they are thrown and even throwing a few of our own. Easier said then done but something I am willing to take on. Not sure how that will take place but I do have a few ideas.
The Quest has been a problem for some time. Especially since our previous editor, Wally Swartz, passed away. We are working on this issue.
The annual conventions will undergo some revamping. We cannot continue to conduct them the same as they have been. Due to many circumstances over the course of the organization existence the attendance has dropped way off. Many different things have been tried and none have seemed to work too well. Part of the blame must go to the very high cost of travel along with the high value of silver. It becomes very costly to travel to the conventions and the fees, as with all events, have risen dramatically. Those two issues are out of our control. We are looking at holding our get-together along with another event. The ideas right now are to link up with some Civil War Relic shows and the GPAA shows. There are many of those held each year in various localities. There is a convention in the planning right now. This was due to an offer made to us by a particular city tourism department. We are being assisted by a local club in that area. More info on that as it becomes available. Should it come to pass it will take place in the fall in order to give sufficient advertising time and time for people to plan to attend.
We need to have sufficient funding in the treasury to assist with legislative and legal situations when they arise. We need to build it up so that we do not need to even think about it if a few hundred dollars are needed here or there for those purposes. The membership dues are enough to keep us afloat but there is not much left over in recent years. Costs of everything have risen and travel is no cheaper for the FMDAC then it is for everyone else. I will work to build the membership up by gaining your trust and, as already stated, working to return to the intended goals of the organization. We will be conducting a few fundraisers and we hope you will all take part. One such fundraiser is a unique idea that I think will get everyone’s attention. I will also add that we are a 501C3 not for profit. That means that any donations made to us are tax deductible.
Now an organization is only as strong as the membership makes it. It requires many people to help out. Especially with a national group such as this. We are all volunteers. There are no paid positions here. In fact many of us spend money from our own pockets toward FMDAC expenses. Like everyone else we have families, jobs and homes to take care of. We have decided to do our part and take a turn to help protect the hobby we love. Some of us have been doing this for a long time. What is needed are others to come into the fold and give us some fresh ideas and new enthusiasm. There is always something that can be done. There have been many programs that have been tried throughout the years and have fallen by the wayside simply because of a lack of manpower. At this time we have opening for officer positions in all of the regions.
Going along with the issue of helping out I would like to ask that if there are any lawyers out there who would volunteer to answer an occasional question for us, or to give us a direction in a legal situation. You would be helping the hobby in a big way. Many times I feel a particular situation could be handled more easily if we just knew the proper direction to take from a legal standpoint. I am not asking for you to represent us for free (Of course we would not refuse that offer) but rather to consult with us and keep us on legal ground.
The position which I have vacated is also open. I am still looking for someone to take it over. It requires some diligence and internet abilities. It is not hard and I will teach you how. It will require a conscientious person who will keep at it and regularly search for negative legislation and issues. Once found they need to be analyzed as to their impact. A plan of action determined and then notifications sent out. Most of the time you are doing nothing but searching. But when something comes up it requires immediate attention and follow up. It is actually a very rewarding position. It’s a good feeling to know that you had a hand, maybe a major hand, in defeating a bad piece of legislation. If you think you can do this job then please contact me and we can talk.
A major change that took place last year was the realigning of the chapters. Due to not having the people to head up the chapters the number of chapters was dropped to three and the name changed to “regions” as follows;
North: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Canada Director - John Howard Central: Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland Director – Don Hayes
South: California, Hawaii, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida Director – Art Difilpo.
It would be nice in the future to be able to reinstate more regions as it is not easy for the regional directors (formerly chapter presidents) to cover such a large area. That all depends on the membership and the amount of assistance we are able to achieve.
With the website being down we do not have membership forms available on the internet right now. If you need one then please contact me and we will get one to you. I apologize for this and hope to have it corrected soon. We should be contacting all member clubs and independent members for renewal purposes each fall and we will ensure that is carried out. Anytime you contact me by email please put FMDAC as the first word in the subject line. That way it will not get mixed up and deleted with all the spam.
I will address a plaguing issue here and this the first and last time I will do it. Through the near 30 years since the FMDAC was founded there have been some internal problems as well as some issue with external happenings. Some minor and some major. Like any organization sometimes the wrong people get into positions and use them for personal reasons. Other times there have been situations in the hobby where we have or have not offered support. Each time there are sore feelings and even people who have taken vendettas against us. The hobby is full of rumors and misrepresentations of what happened. Most of it is totally false and some downright delusional! I have heard rumors of some that I have first hand knowledge of and I can tell you that those rumors were totally false. Usually started by those who did not get their way or the old “someone told me that he was told by someone who heard……” I will not dredge up the past. I am moving forward. You can live in the past if you wish. You can hold a grudge if you wish. Just make sure that grudge is properly directed. In most cases it should probably be held against the person that gave you the false information. I found out in my years of dealing with legislation and detecting bans that you cannot believe all that you hear. Go to the source and get the correct information. Many times it changes the whole picture. Now having said that if you heard a rumor and would like to know the facts then I will do my best to give you the facts. If there is an issue from the past that has you staying away then talk to me and I will try to clear up any misconceptions.
In closing I ask for your support to help protect this great hobby. Think of the investment you have in equipment. The average detector is $700 to $1000 and most have more then one. $5 is a pittance compared to having to put them in the attic because you no longer have anyplace to legally use them. Get involved…..The hobby you save will be your own.
Mark SchuesslerFMDAC National President
Wanted to thank Eddy Current for the following update. Incidentally I found out that Eddy Current is not his real name. It's Serge Coil.....
Just a reminder that I also have a blog, and it allows for comments, responses, bitches, etc., so if you want to blow off steam, or nail my butt, check it out HERE
Was recently reading someones post on Facebook about not getting much response from the manufacturers with regards to a "yet to be named" kid's contest he was going to hold. It seemned to be an attempt at sympathy, along with the threat of naming those companies who did not respond or donate as he had hoped. Having been the Marketing Director for Garrett Metal Detectors back in the late 80's, it brought back a lot of memories.....
First of all, most all manufacturers, companies, businesses involved with the treasure hunting pastime do what they can to help promote it, and this includes supporting clubs, charities and the like. When I was at Garrett it would depend a lot on the size of the club, the event, etc., and did we already donate to them over the past few months.
Back then Garrett would usually donate a mid to low end detector, but as time went on the requests increased, and eventually hunt packages became the norm, not just for us, but with most manufacturers. A hunt package might include caps, aprons, diggers, books, etc.. Keep in mind too that for each metal detector we gave away it was potentially a lost sale for one of our local dealers...
I cannot begin to tell you how many requests we would receive each day, but it was a time consuming task, separating the good from the bad, the legit from the phony. One particular request stands out in my mind, and let me see if I can remember some of the details.....
It was a letter from a Father John Smith (or something similiar) of St. Cheats Catholic Church (not a real church) in Chicago, Illinois, and he was writing on behalf of Johnny Jones, who was diagnosed with a rare disease and had only a few weeks to live (photo included of an extremely emaciated young man, much like those you would see from a WWI Nazi death camp).
Father Smith continued..."while on his death bed, one of Johnny's last requests was to own a Garrett Master Hunter ADS metal detector (model GT#4555, page 8 n catalog), with the 8 inch coil (catalog number GT333, page 15), deepseeking 14 inch (catalog number GT444, page 15), hard carrying case (catalog number GT555, page 16) and the Garrett digger (catalog number GT666, page 17)".
Father Smith asked if we could find it "in our heart" to send these items to Johnny's home (address given), and if we did he knew it would make his last days on earth that much more memorable. After all of us at the factory passed the letter around and had a good laugh, I decided to see if I could contact Father Smith, and called information for the number of St. Cheats Catholic church in Chicago. Of course there was no listing, nor was there for Father Smith. I then decided to try and find a phone number for poor little Johnny Jones (if of course he was still alive), and surprise, surprise....there was one.
I dialed the number, and a young man answered the phone....I asked if I might to talk to Johnny Jones, and he said "this is he"..... I asked how he was feeling, and he was curious why I asked such a question. I said I heard about his rare condition and saw his photo, and it didn't seem like he would be able to pick up a phone, let alone talk as cheerfully as he did. Next thing I heard was a click....he hung up.
This story was of course over the top, and my sharing it is not meant to poke fun at clubs or anyone requesting help with events. It's meant to remind you that you are not the only one asking. Just going through all of these requests could be a full time job for many of the manufacturers, and may well be at this time (that was in the 80's).
In any case, the individual on Facebook who got me thinking about all this needs to calm his anger, and his temptation to name those companies who didn't instantly sign on to his cause. He needs to know the treasure hunting business community is small and very close knit. In other words "Don't bite off your nose to spite your face"
It isn’t always easy to write about the bad apples in the hobby, but we do have them and it must be done. What follows is a salutary tale involving many people, but principally those from an on-line detecting forum. The members of this respected forum were cruelly used in a scam to make money.
In April last year a new subscriber, 42-year-old Paul White of Washington in Tyne and Wear joined the forum, using the pseudonym ‘GeordiePaul’ and pretending to be an ex-paratrooper. He contributed well, made many posts and generally became what appeared to be a ‘respected’ member. Alas, appearances were proved deceptive.
At the end of May 2010 and after being a member for only just over a month, White informed people that he had to sell his detector because his three-year-old daughter had become very ill and he needed money quickly. When pressed by concerned forum members for more information he said that she had a ‘rare form of brain tumour’ and if she didn’t have the treatment would go blind or even die.
He went on to say that, as the operation couldn’t be done in England, the best and fastest way of sorting it out was to have the treatment done in America – and soon. Evidently, ‘the specialists had moved the goal posts’ and he needed an extra £500 - that was why he had to sell his detector!
Initially, White never asked for money but was buoyed by forum members offering to send various amounts so he set up a PayPal account for those wishing to contribute saying, “I know this is cheaky (sic), but if any of you could maybe donate a pound or so, I’d be eternally grateful.”
Naturally, many people started sending money – detectorists are caring people, but there were some who were a little more circumspect and started asking questions both on and off forum that were either ignored or never satisfactorily answered.
Purporting to be logging on from America, White reassured members that the operation had gone well and his little girl would be fine – “thank God!” Unknown to him the forum owners were monitoring his posts and concluded that he was sending from a computer on Tyneside. After a week of evidence gathering and compiling a dossier of all the evidence, they forwarded the file to the Northumbrian police.
In his last post to the forum, White thanked everybody who had helped him ‘over these troubling times’, but unfortunately he had been getting some ‘disturbing’ emails and asked for his account to be deleted. He ended by saying, “Thank you very much. We Paras never forget!” We learned later that shortly afterwards he treated his family on an overseas holiday!
Paul White, alias GeordiePaul, was arrested on July 30 last year on suspicion of obtaining money via the transfer site PayPal and charged with dishonesty offences on November 30 at the Houghton-Le-Spring magistrate’s court.
He pleaded guilty to four fraud charges and was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 120 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay more than £550 in compensation.
As I said in my introduction, writing about such things isn’t easy and there is a tendency to brush them under the carpet. Thanks mainly to Shane Rear and his diligence in ensuring and running a ‘good’ forum, this story can be told. Although GeordiePaul has a small child, she wasn’t suffering from a brain tumour and he was simply using her in a scam to get cash. Be vigilant!
Last night's Relic Roundup was very disappointing. Mark Schuessler was the guest, and I had hoped to hear about new directions for the FMDAC, but when the show ended I hadn't learned a thing. Mark is certainly the perfect guy to get this group on track, but unfortunately he did not have much of anything new to offer. I hate to criticize but why come on a show, and then mention that you do not have a viable website, or for that matter, a definitive group of officers, and/or some plan to get members enthused again. How long must they wait? Getting a decent website up and running is very important, and I am assuming the FMDAC has some money left in it's coffers, or do they not?
I also wish the gang at Relic Roundup would find a way to screen the callers so that the topic at hand can't be sidetracked. Between a fifteen minute introduction, a few commercials and phone calls, you're lucky to hear 30 minutes of what it was you tuned in for.
Lastly If I hear one more mention of the "Silver Seekers" I will croak! It's pretty much common knowledge that this group "morphed" from the FMDAC, and became nothing more than a large social group, causing many member clubs and invidiuals to drop out of the Federation. Here's hoping the FMDAC develops it's own identity, and once again becomes an organization that all TH'er want to be part of.
Now, go ahead and beat me up.....
Was recently made aware of a series of metal detecting videos on YouTube courtesy of Old Guy Productions. The "old guy" is actually Mike Nickopolis, and the series is called "Detecting History in Arizona". Mike's videos are well done, informative, laid back, and very funny. Anytime you need a chuckle be sure to click on Old Guy Productions. I emailed Mike to tell him how much I enjoy his efforts, and he responded "Glad you appreciate the fun and humor that I throw in with my metal detecting. Life is too short....might as well enjoy it."
Rick Browne, from the Yankee Territory Coinshooters forwarded the following items, and I thank him. Always great to see the pastime shown in a positive light.
Thank you to Eddy Current (love that name) for sending along the following article. Interestingly the man who actually started the "California" Gold Rush, James Marshall lived in my old hometown of Lambertivlle New Jersey, and his house is still standing
Mark Schuessler, the new president of the FMDAC, will be the guest tomorrow night (Monday) on American Digger Magazine's Relic Roundup show, starting at 9PM EST. Hopefully Mark will share his visions and plans for getting the group back on track. To listen in or call in, simply scroll down to the bottom of the American Digger Magazine homepage, and click on the "tune in" link and post your name. I am very much looking forward this show.
Been a while since I posted any recipes here on SS, and wanted to share this one. My wife Fay fixed it the other night, and it was terrific. Would make a great dish for the forthcoming Super Bowl.....for the recipe, click HERE.
John Howland just forwarded his latest contribution to the Malamute Saloon, and I thank him as always. He also sent along a couple of recent photos of he and his partner in crime, Jack Dey. I have never met Jack, but I feel for him. I know what a day with John Howland is like. Don't get me wrong. John is a great TH'er and you can learn from him. You will also learn how to run fast!
You can find his latest ramblings by clicking on the Malamute Saloon above,and scrolling down to today's date, or by simply clicking HERE.
Had taken down this site and my blog for a couple of days, and pondered the pro's and con's of continuing both. I enjoy staying in touch with a lot of my old friends, but often find myself struggling to come up with anything new or anything of interest. I also don't get out detecting much anymore, and that doesn't help the situation.
In any case I decided to continue entertaining you with my banter (polite word for BS), and thank those of you who emailed, asking why the sites were down and encouraging me to continue to write.
My friend Dave Wise (a.k.a. Heavymetalnut on forums) from back in "Yankee" land (Connecticut) has been posting a lot of his finds and videos on Facebook, and I just a little envious (pissed too). If I ever see him again I am going to cut the wires to his coil.
When I look at the videos I remember areas, homesites, cellar holes exactly like those shown. I know there are probably a few around me here, but so far I have not found them. Something about those leaf covered, wooded areas, loamy soils that I miss. Here are a few videos that Dave and hunting partner Todd Hiltz shared on YouTube....
Neat video put together by Bill Ratpack, member of Brian Mayer's Jersey Shore Beach & Surf Hunters group on Facebook. If you do any water hunting at all, do your self a favor and look them up. Lots of great information shared there. Brian is also a member of the South Jersey Metal Detecting Club.
Interesting contest on John Winter's blog......give it a look see, and a guess at the same time.
Recently read an article that said the US Mint is looking at alternatives to the metallic composition of our coins, in the hopes of reducing costs. While it's only in the trial stages I have to wonder how it might affect the ability of our detectors to find them. Then again it could be a boon for the manufacturers, making us all purchase new detectors that are programmed for the new metals that are used. Hmmm, will have to keep an eye on all this...
Well, got the Pug Bug back Friday, and my mechanic was able to fix it for a lot less than originally quoted. Can't tell you how happy that made me feel.....
Yesterday two of my childhood heroes passed away.... First it was Earl Weaver and then last night I read about the passing of Stan Musial. Two names that instantly took me back to a time when all was well with the world.
There were only 16 baseball teams then. Eight in the American League and eight in the National. Words like "designated hitter", or "middle relief" and "closer" didn't exist. A pitcher was expected to pitch 9 innings, and those in the field were expected to play the same, no matter their ailments or physical injuries.
Today if a pitcher can go six innings they demand big salaries and those that play the field can almost always expect time off due to a hang nail or pimple. I spent many days in Yankee stadium, watching Mickey Mantle "limp" running to first or chasing down a fly ball. He had a bad leg but played anyway. It was just how it was.....
It was a time when you collected baseball cards for the challenge, and more importantly for the fun of it. Back then you were not able to buy the whole years's offering at once....you had to wait until the baseall cards hit the market, and then you had to buy as many packs as you could, hoping you would find those cards that filled in your collection for the year, or that finished your "favorite team's" offerings for the year. What a fun time it was....
I understand this hasn't anything to do with metal detecting or treasure hunting. It does, however, have something to do with the age we live in, and how time changes so many things. I understand research and technology will continue to amaze, but I will always be glad I grew up when I did. It was a fun time and an era when things were a lot less complicated. I have often heard that period called the "age of innocence" and I have to agree it was indeed.
Earl Weaver and Stan Musial.....rest in peace and thank you for all the fun times....
My last post "Using a Broad Brush" brought forth a few comments on my blog, and I just want to reiterate my position, my opinion, my take on the potential of finding common ground with the archaeological community.....
As I've stated many, many times before, I have no desire to work with archaeologists, nor do I find it some sort of honor to do so. It's taken forty years of experience to come to this conclusion, and I am just tired of their ongoing disdain for what it is we do. I am also disappointed in those detectorists who continue to "grovel and beg" for acceptance into their small minded world. Then again if you find sticking flags in the ground to your liking, have at it.....
What finds I have made over the years were above board and legal, and I owe the archaeological community absolutely nothing! Hope that clears things up!
Not a lot to report this time around. Still without a vehicle and it maybe next week before I have one. Apparently the Pug Bug is old enough that getting miscellaneous parts from the manufacturer is no longer an option. At least that is what my mechanic says..... Instead of one small vent door I am getting the whole AC dash unit installed to the tune of $1,375. I keep trying to keep the Pug Bug running, taking very good care of it over the years, and because I cannot afford car payments, but now I am starting to wonder if that's a reasonable goal. While I do not have to get out and about, it just bothers me not having a car at my disposal....
Fay and I had two pugs, Barnum and Bailey (We lost Bailey a couple of years ago), and they were and are "family" twice-over. Anyway, we used to take them to a giant indoor flea market in downtown Dallas. It was a monthly event, and every once in a while we would find a bargain. Mostly however it was a day out, and a chance to give the dogs some exercise.
One Sunday Fay had to work, and I decided to just take Barnum to the flea market for a quick run through. As we entered the gate to Fair Park, where the market was held, we immediately saw a sign that said "Low Rider Convention".
No big deal? Well it was for me. I drive a yellow VW Beetle, with a license plate that reads "Pug Bug", and yes I have one of those big ole sunflowers stuck in the vase on the dash. That should tell you the feeling of impending doom I had when I saw the low rider sign.
I pulled up to a couple of extremely overweight guys, who spoke very little English, and asked if there was a flea market that day. They took their time, looked at me, my license plate, the sunflower, and Barnum sitting in the passenger seat next to me, and said sternly NO!! I looked at Barnum and said "Buddy we need to get our asses out of here". We quickly turned around, drove home, and I swear Barnum was laughing along with me.....
Ralph Smith, a musician friend from years ago, shared this one on Facebook, and I thought it was a good read.....
Keith Wills sent along the following photo, and thank him for doing so...love it.
Keith said "Left is Richard Ray holding an old Garrett BFO. To the right is a picture of Hunter Pritchett holding an old D-Tex BFO. I am in the center, holding two old Fisher BFO's (one a tube type). We were looking over a map of an area we were going to hunt that evening.
The picture was taken on my front porch many years ago. You know about Richard and his exploits, but Hunter is also of the same mold (found the really big treasures way back when and the government came after him too). Both are super guys and I'm proud to call them my friends. Hunter is still alive and getting old like the rest of us. If Hunter was here he would have to tell you about the time he and I were in Arkansas, and I had to kill a big old rattle snake to dig up two gold coins. It's one of his favorite stories."
Butch Holcombe, publisher of American Digger Magazine just forwarded the following to me, and while I am not sure if it's current, it's a reminder that we need to be diligent in our efforts and ready to stop efforts to label us unjustly.....
Received this article this morning from a fellow TH'er and thought I would passit along. Wonder what "professional" was responsible for this screw up?
Did not get out this weekend as hoped....weather was just too cold. Also discovered that after replacing my auto AC system, and radiatior that I now have no defroster. Suddenly the pug bug is losing it's chug...what next?
I have no say in this at all, but I hope most of you who visit here will refrain from sharing your finds online, especially the relics. Coins to me are no big deal, but it seems that whenever we post photos of relics we find ourselves battling city hall and the archaeological community. I and the majority of detectorists will always share items of historical interest and always make them known to the local community and/or museum. It's the casual find that seems to garner the attention of our detractors, and it might behoove us to think twice before annoucing them to the world.... The decision, needless to say, is yours to make.
Received a couple of updates if you will, and wanted to pass them along. The first is from Dave Perry, and it's an update on the forthcoming Treasure Fest (see my last update)....
I received this email from Keith Wills who was passing it along from Wayne "Nuggetbrain" Peterson.....
Keith, no hard feelings, but I just have to add I would find it difficult to send money to someone named "Nuggetbrain"?
Found this article the other day, and wanted to pass it along.....amazing what money can do to friendships.
Well it's only the second week of the new year and I am already trying to get enthused about detecting. Physically it's definitely more demanding, and I am now beginning to think I am losing it mentally as well. Just can't seem to get excited anymore, and I need to find out why. Have a couple of sites to check out, but that ole spark is just not there at the moment. Had a chance to get out today, and opted instead to go to a movie (be sure to see "Zero Dark Thirty").
Have went so far as to bench test the MXT Pro some, and came up with a few new settings I want to try, but otherwise just can't seem to get off my ass and go do it, and please don't send me emails encouraging me. I am too old for that sort of thing, and need to get the energy back on my own. What's worse is that I know some of you are looking at snow and frozen ground, and would love to be out detecting (remember that very well).
We just had two straight days of heavy rain (over 4 inches), and tomorrow is another... Hopefully Sunday will find my spirit willing, and my new MXT Pro setups working as I anticipate. Will be sure to share the results, good or bad.
I am aware that the metal detecting "realty" shows, Diggers and American Diggers are coming back to haunt us, but Sunday night I discovered that much of the country is being taken over by similar, off-the-wall, "made for stupid people" TV garbage. I suddenly realized I have been living a sheltered life for the past couple of years....
First I must admit that I am not a big TV fan, and my viewing is pretty much limited to sports and the various cooking shows. Sunday night, after watching the Redskins lose their playoff game, I starting giving the remote a workout, and discovered shows like "Moonshiners", "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo", "Storage Wars", "Swamp People", "Gator Boys" and a new one that blew my mind...."Best Funerals" (Believe it or not it this one is on the "Learning Channel").
I know these shows have little to do with metal detecting or treasure hunting, but then perhaps they do indirectly. Over the past few years the hobby has become crowded with very vocal, very selfish, and very lazy participants, as in "if it doesn't affect me, who cares".You also like to show and brag about your finds on the internet, and in the process, help paint big targets on our backs for everyone to see including not just John Q. Public, but the archaeological community and the TV networks as well. You might call it progress, but I like Forest Gump's "stupid is as stupid does"....
All of these supposed "reality shows" are becoming the rage because we watch them and in the process, encourage the continued promotion of even "dumb, dumb and dumber"...
I had a scary feeling Sunday night skimming through these shows thinking that just maybe the two metal detecting shows that we despise so much are really the best of the lot? How bad is that?
Received an email from mny good friend Dave Perry, with details about the forthcoming Southern Indiana Treasure Fest, and wanted to share the info with you here....
John Howland is somewhat pissed in that I didn't go "tits up" and he will not be receiving any of my detectors, but he did take the time to send along an update. His latest offering has a little of everything.....wishes for the new year, more insults for his friend in Warsaw, and a bashing of one Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage. Add in Prince Charles, and he's covered all the bases. To read his thoughts and perceptions you merely have to click HERE.
Every so often I get an email from my good friend Eleanor Hube, reminding me that when it comes to metal detecting she still kicks my butt, and most everyone else's too. I once wrote a article for Western and Eastern Treasures about Eleanor titled "Eleanor Hube....One of the Grand Dames of Metal Detecting" (check out the articles link above), and at the time I thought that just perhaps Eleanor was going to retire. She was having a couple of medical issues, and wasn't sure how much more she'd be able to get out in the field.
That was years ago, and today she is still in the field, still finding treasure and still returning rings....What a gal!! If any of you are ever in her neck of the woods please be sure to stop in at her shop and say hello. J&E Enterprises has been around a long time, and it's for a reason. Great service, great prices and a willingness to share years of experience. To me Eleanor was, is and will always be "the" Grand Dame of our pastime. Happy New Year Eleanor!!
Have never been one to follow through on New Year's resolutions, but I had it in the back of my mind that I had to get serious about losing weight in the New Year. What I hadn't envisioned was getting a jump start on the process by getting sick. I came down with something nasty (rat bite fever, jungle rot, black death, or something along those lines) on December 27th, and up until today I had absolutely no desire to get out of bed in the morning. The only benefit was that I had no appetite for anything at all. In fact trying to eat just made things worse, and believe it or not I still haven't had a glass of red since then either (I can see Howland rolling on the floor, laughing his ass off). I kid you not!!
While some of the really "beat me down" symptoms have disappeared I still feel extremely tired and weak. A trip to the store yesterday to pick up a pescription was grueling....everything little thing, from getting a shower, to getting dressed, to driving two blocks to the store, to getting in and out of my car, just seemed insurmountable. I have never been a ball of fire, but this was and is like nothing I have experienced before. If it's not the flu it's one nasty, horrid bug.....
In any case I feel some sense of normalcy (whatever that is?) returning, and wanted to thank you all for the get well wishes. Course there was Howland wanting one of my detectors if I didn't survive, and when I shared that with Butch Holcombe, his response? "That’s cold! I hope you get better soon. PS-If not, can I have your jewelry finds?"
Ron Guinazzo once again has decided to put the hex on all you water hunters by putting together a video showing what he and his friend Mark have found over the past two years..... I really do like these guys, but they are getting on my nerves big time now. No one, and I mean no one, should be allowed this kind of success. Just disgusting.
Just when we thought it was safe to come out of the water, it appears as though we all must face another season of the National Geographic's "Diggers" show. Add in a second season of Spike's "comedy" series "American Diggers", and we are once again back on our heels, trying to defend the absurdity and negativity of what these shows portray.
Dan Sivilich with the BRAVO group has suggested that we combat these shows by boycotting the sponsors, and while I think it's a great idea I personally don't think we have the unified will to do it. We are a divided group of hobbyists, who like to talk big but it's almost always hot air, ripe for the moment, and always short lived.
Dan will be on The Relic Roundup this coming Monday night, and I feel certain this topic will come up. Hopefully you all will tune in and share your thoughts. Prove me wrong, please......
On the flip side of the coin Scott Mitchen sent me a scheduling update on this new show, and promises it is one worth watching. I believe Scott is featured in a show or two down the line...
I have come down with the flu, and for the past three days it has kicked my butt big time. I cannot remember the last time I have felt this bad. Of course I had a physcial back on the 11th and decided to skip the flu shot, so I have no one to blame but myself. Chills, cough, congestion, sore throat, tiredness, and sweating.... if's it out there I have it. Did want however to wish you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year! Hope 2013 is a year full of fun and neat finds....
Always nice to know you have friends when you are not feeling well....when John Howland found out I was sick he emailed....
Sorry to learn you are laid up with the Flu...I wish you a speedy recovery. A hot whiskey Toddy does it for me! If it does go tits up for you, any chance I could have your Whites Spectrum?
Your good friend, John....
Was thinking back over the past year and tried to put it in perspective, but it was not easy this time around. It was not a good year, not a bad year...simply an okay year. I also know that given what so many friends and relatives of mine have gone through recently, I should not complain. I didn't get out detecting much, and didn't add much to the treasure coffers, but I still have the bug, still have this website and blog, and hopefully I will get off my ass in the coming year to change all that.
Joe Cook, an old and very good friend and treasure hunter, passed away in June, and I will never forget his friendship, and his contributions to the pastime. I still think of him often, and remember the good ole days of the 80's and 90's. On the positive side I reconnected with old friends like John Repa, Richard Ray, Larry (Packrat) Bateham, Paul Tainter, Scott Mitchen, Bruce Hazelman, Ron Womer and others.
The past year also saw my battle with Paul Barford heat up, and I plan this year to soften my rhetoric, and hope that he in turn, does the same. It's no secret that I have no fondness for the archaeological community, and Mr. Barford does absolutely nothing to change my mind, but I have decided to respond in a more conciliatory way, and hope that perhaps he does the same. Time will tell....
2012 saw the first "National Metal Detecting Day" sponsored by Minelab. I hope the this event not only continues, but that ALL the manufacturers will be invited to participate, and that it becomes a very special day for all of the many clubs throughout the country, the world, and for all those involved in this very special pastime.
My wife Fay finally retired in February, and being an Intenstive Care Nurse for 47 years, I am very proud of her. Over the years she has received many awards for her skills, as well as glowing compliments from all who came in contact with her during that period, both doctors, nurses and patients. She has now "plunged" into her photography, and is having way, way too much fun, as in The Crazy Women's Photography Club. You can also see many of her photos here.
This year I offered up the idea of a joint coming together, and a true "national" representative organization. That was abruptly dismissed after suggesting it on many of the major metal detecting forums. No one responded, and those that did wanted no part of it. Bottom line? Detectorists are selfish, cheap and only care when the opposition hits them square in the head!
2012 also brought on one of the most embarrassing TV shows about our hobby...."American Diggers". I waded through three episodes of this stupid "unreality" show, and passed up on all the rest. I understand the need to entertain and amuse, but this was by far the worse representation of our pastime ever. If the finds on that show were worth what they reported, I could have retired years ago. Unfortunately it's on the schedule again this year, which means we have a lot of unknowing, brainwashed fans of the pastime out there. God help us!
Another disappointment of the past year? The disappearance of the Task Force for Metal Detecting Rights, and the Federation of Metal Detecting and Archaeological Clubs. WWATS too was also stagnant in that nothing new appeared on their website for some time. As of this moment I understand the FMDAC is reorganizing, WWATS is having a get together in February, and the Task Force is still in hibernation. I will be chastised for saying this, but "is this the best we can do?"
We claimed one victory in the past year, the reversal of the metal detecting ban in Carthage, Missouri. On the other hand we were dealt a blow in Kentucky, and a draw in Alabama. John Howland said it best recently when he said it would take a total ban on detecting in a couple of states for us to wake up. Is that really the solution? Are we just treading water, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or are we going to do something to cement our acceptance among the masses? The answer of course is up to all of you. I have fought the battle way too many times, and where it goes from here is dependent on your actions and yes, your contribution, both in time and money.
I want to finish this look back with an article from the John Winter blog, and a letter written by Bob Sickler to the state legislators in Kentucky. I featured both of these over the past year, and they are worth reading again....
Metal detecting is a truly fascinating hobby, which is enjoyed by people of all ages and from many different backgrounds. It is not only a stimulating recreational pursuit, however, it is also a source of valuable information, which is adding very considerably to our knowledge of the past. In fact, the hobby’s contribution has a particular significance. It provides information about lost and discarded items, which otherwise would never be known. Importantly, it rescues these items from hostile environments that threaten their rapid destruction.
Not so, argue the hobby’s detractors. Metal detecting is depleting the archaeological pool and resulting in the loss of contextual information. Detectorists are reluctant to record their finds, and the hobby’s contribution to knowledge is minimal. Interest in the hobby is driven primarily by financial gain.
So, what is the reality of the situation? Let us consider the issues raised, starting with the ‘archaeological pool’ and its ‘depletion’.
In the context of metal detecting, the ‘archaeological pool’ is the body of small man-made items in the ground, which have been lost, discarded or buried. Some of them have the potential to add to our knowledge of the past, but while they remain undiscovered they contribute nothing. It is only when they are recovered, whether by metal detectorists, archaeologists or members of the general public, that they provide any information at all. However, the great majority of items in this pool will only ever be discovered as a result of metal detectorists pursuing their hobby. Furthermore, while they remain in the ground they are exposed to a very severe risk of destruction. The emotive phrase, ‘depleting the archaeological pool’, is therefore entirely misleading, because it implies a net loss to our knowledge, as opposed to a net gain. Far from taking anything away, detectorists are adding to our knowledge by discovering and recording material that otherwise would have been lost forever. In fact, the reality of the situation is far better expressed, if the negative and propagandist, ‘depleting the archaeological pool’, is replaced with the more meaningful, ‘rescuing our material heritage’.
And ‘rescuing’ is the operative word. Few people outside archaeology and the metal-detecting hobby have any appreciation of the rate at which our undiscovered material heritage is being destroyed. The vast majority of metallic objects that remain in the ground are condemned to certain destruction as a result of the intensive agricultural practices and land development that are associated with modern living.
Agrochemicals, for example, will completely destroy a base-metal object within a few years of being in the ground. Many ancient coins and artefacts will have survived in good condition in the soil for nearly two millennia, only to be completely destroyed in the last fifty years.
The two modern coins shown below are of bronze, and of a type that was struck between 1971 and 1981. The upper coin is in as-struck condition. The lower coin is a metal-detecting find made in the early 1990s. It was probably in the ground for less than twenty years, but is so severely damaged by chemical attack that it is not even possible to read the date.
Chemicals, however, are not the only threat faced by objects in the ground. The mechanisation of almost every aspect of agriculture makes long-term survival of any object within ploughsoil virtually impossible. Pre-historic stone implements and metallic objects are equally vulnerable. Even the smallest and lightest of items are cut to pieces, and any information they might have yielded is lost forever. The medieval silver coins shown below are all less than 20 mm diameter, but nothing escapes the high-speed blades of modern cultivators.
And it is not only in the fields that mechanisation is taking its toll. Rivers and other waterways are being dredged to increasingly greater depths in order to improve land drainage. The consequence of this is that many fords and archaeological structures are being destroyed because they present obstacles to flood water. Artefacts and coins are disturbed from these safe environments, and become damaged by gravels and rocks as they are carried downstream.
In the light of the conditions described above, it is instructive to consider a hypothetical situation. A member of the public is walking across a field and notices a Roman brooch protruding from the soil. Should he retrieve it or leave it in the ground? If he retrieves it, it can be photographed, measured, weighed, analysed, conserved and recorded. If he leaves it in the ground, its identity and details will never be known, and it will probably be destroyed in a short space of time when the field is ploughed and sprayed.
If you believe that the responsible course of action is to leave the brooch in the ground, join the hobby’s detractors, and you will find yourself amongst like-minded people. However, if you believe that it is better to retrieve the brooch, ask yourself this question. What makes this accidentally discovered brooch any different to all the other brooches, coins and artefacts that are discovered with the aid of a metal detector?
Before moving on to the next issue, ‘loss of contextual information’, it is appropriate to draw attention to an important point regarding the respective modi operandi of archaeology and metal detecting. Archaeologists usually focus their attention on sites of intensive past human activity, whereas hobbyists search vastly greater areas, the majority of which will have seen only limited activity. The contribution that each group makes to our knowledge of the past is consequently of a different, but complementary nature.
Context, from an archaeological perspective, relates to the depth and relative positions of buried objects in an undisturbed environment, and it provides valuable information about their age and use. The key phrase, however, is ‘in an undisturbed environment’. The vast majority of land searched by metal detectorists is cultivated agricultural land, and the objects recovered are from the ploughsoil. Their depth and precise position within the ground are very unlikely to have any significance, but nevertheless their general location plays an important part in contributing to our knowledge of the past. The distribution patterns of individually lost objects, for example, can shed light on aspects of our history that conventional archaeology is not able to illuminate. The ‘horizontal context’, as it has been described, can make a unique contribution.
So, on what basis do the detractors make their claim that metal detecting results in a ‘loss of contextual information’? As already indicated, the vast majority of land searched by detectorists either is, or has previously been, under cultivation. This can therefore be eliminated as a potential area of ‘risk’. Similarly, all archaeological sites that have ‘Scheduled Monument’ status, and those that are otherwise protected by legislation, are out-of-bounds to the hobby, so they, too, can be eliminated. And excavated spoil from land development projects can hardly justify their concern.
The land that remains (predominantly undisturbed pasture) is a very small proportion of the total that is detected, and any unknown archaeological sites that exist on it will, by statistical probability, represent only a small fraction of the area. The actual risk of unwittingly disturbing items in an archaeological context is therefore extremely low. Notwithstanding this minimal risk, all responsible hobbyists detect in accordance with codes of practice that address this situation to ensure that the maximum amount of information is preserved. The reality is that archaeological sites accidentally discovered as a result of metal detecting are sites that would probably never otherwise have been discovered.
To realise their potential in providing information about our past, it is, of course, not only important to rescue objects from their hostile environment, but also to ensure that they are recorded and published. By doing so, details of the object are available for study, both in their own right, and in the context of related items and locations.
A coin, for example, may provide evidence of a hitherto unknown moneyer, like the silver penny of Stephen illustrated above. The collective recording of many coins, which individually might be insignificant, can establish where and under whose authority they were struck, their area of circulation, and even tribal boundaries. Analysis of findspots of Celtic and early Anglo-Saxon coins in England, for example, has significantly increased our understanding of these periods of our history.
The facilities available for recording finds made in the UK are probably the best in the world. The UK Detector Finds Database (UKDFD) offers detectorists a hobby-based self-recording scheme, and the government-sponsored Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) provides recording via a network of Finds Liaison Officers. In addition, the Celtic Coin Index (CCI) and the Early Medieval Corpus (EMC) provide facilities for the recording of coins from these two periods. All these databases are online and freely accessible to the public, and the content of all of them owes a great deal to the metal-detecting hobby.
The publication of detecting finds on the Internet, however, is only one aspect of the hobby’s contribution to knowledge. Long before the Internet became available, detecting finds were being recorded and published by more conventional means, and these continue to play an important role. Authors from within the hobby have played a significant part in this process, and many others have acknowledged the contribution that metal detecting has made.
So, with hundreds of thousands of individual detector-find records in the public domain, and every indication that the rate of recording is increasing, how do the hobby’s detractors come to the conclusion that ‘detectorists are reluctant to record their finds’? The answer is that they don’t!
A conclusion is, by definition, “an opinion formed after considering the relevant facts or evidence”. The hobby’s detractors are not concerned with considering relevant facts or evidence; they are concerned only with achieving their objective of seeing the introduction of legislation to restrict the hobby. Accordingly, they fabricate ludicrous statistics to support their aims and mislead those, particularly legislators, who are not conversant with the facts. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their claims regarding the numbers of ‘recordable finds’ made by detectorists.
Everything that is dug is, of course, recordable, including all the shotgun cartridges, drink-can pull-tabs and irregular, nondescript fragments of metal that form the vast majority of ‘finds’ made by the detectorist. It is absurd to suggest that resources should be wasted recording material that will add nothing to our knowledge, and, as everyone involved with recording detectorists’ finds knows, there is a diverse range of material that falls into this category.
The ratio of junk to worthwhile finds made by detectorists varies considerably depending on the site, but it is by no means unusual for it to be of the order of one hundred to one. And even when a worthwhile find is made, it is frequently the case that recording would serve no useful purpose. Modern coins, for example, may well be regarded as good finds, but their recording is extremely unlikely to add anything to our historical or numismatic knowledge.
Collectively, detectorists do make large numbers of finds that are worth recording, and in a small number of cases, the finds are spectacular and valuable. The latter are often in the form of hoards, which by their very nature were hidden in remote uninhabited areas, and are unlikely to be discovered by traditional archaeological methods. Such valuable finds, however, are quite exceptional. Nothing highlights the ignorance of the hobby’s detractors more than their assertion that detectorists are motivated by financial gain. Experienced hobbyists treat such claims with the contempt that they deserve, and anyone entering the hobby with such an aim would very rapidly become disillusioned and leave.
In summary, the portrayal of metal detecting by its detractors is one that few informed people, inside or outside the hobby, would recognise. Their propaganda is characterised by distortions and misuse of statistics to portray the hobby in a negative light. They blur the distinction between hobbyists and criminals that use metal detectors, just as they blur the distinction between archaeological sites and land that has no known archaeological significance. They do likewise with spurious statistics regarding numbers of finds made and recorded, deliberately choosing to ignore the fact that the vast majority of items recovered are of no archaeological or historical significance. However, the reality of the hobby’s contribution to knowledge is plain for everyone to see. It is evident in the display cases of our museums, the records on our databases, and the publications on our bookshelves.
I've taken to writing in defense of having a recreation which is greatly misunderstood by many and unfairly threatened and discriminated against by most of the archeological community world-wide. More specifically I write about a recreation called metal detecting.
So what is the recreation of metal detecting all about? To me it has been more than just a simple outdoor activity, it's a 44 year continuing journey to satisfy an intense desire to know first-hand my country's history, more importantly the people (our ancestors) who lived it and created it. It's the excitement of recovering something lost in the ground for centuries and knowing you are first person since the last to touch it again... My link to the past and the education it provides. We all inherited our past and no one person or group has the right to keep anyone from discovering it in a responsible manner and learning from it.
Many in the misinformed general public unfortunately tend to view we Detectorists as "scavengers", "looters", "grubbers", "pot hunters", "thieves", and greedy "treasure hunters". Fact is a lot of people are jealous of the recreation simply because they can't stand to see anyone profit from anything, even if it's one penny at a time. Many of us are just simply finding and collecting lost coins. In the many years I've enjoyed researching huntsites and operating a metal detector, the worth of anything found collectively would never equal the expense of owning the equipment necessary to do so. It's never been about profit for me in my pursuit of history. It's been about the rewards of educating myself and others about the items found and giving myself some quality time outdoors. It's also about rescuing these pieces of history from the ravages of time and acid rain destruction. In the years I've enjoyed my recreation, I've actually witnessed an accelerated degradation to metal finds. It's about time spent sharing friendship and comradery with people of similar ideals. It's honor and respect and returning a precious lost heirloom to someone who asked for your help and you never ask for anything in return. It's about volunteering our time to help law enforcement at crime scenes or to help anyone in need of our skills.
The only monetary profit I ever gained from my recreation was to write a book to help others enjoy the same recreation. The profits went directly into providing a living for my family when employment was just not enough. The true profit and satisfaction was knowing I taught others to use their equipment well and promote responsible use of a metal detector. Undoubtably, there are some of us who would conceal a significant find from the rightful owner or do something illegal as a means to their end... But this is unfortunately human nature and this behavior is not exclusive to any recreation or our critics.
On a more personal level, the rewards of strenuous exercise and fresh air provided by this recreation far exceed the benefits of any pharmaceutical. Since childhood, I've had trouble controlling blood glucose levels. I have an occupation that confines me to a drawing board and in later years, a computer. Any weekend spent walking miles in the sunshine outdoors, bending over, kneeling, retrieving targets and standing back up again to do it all again countless times has a significant effect on glucose levels no pill or injection can compete with. My recreation is probably the reason why I'm still here to write this.
For years, our detractors have continuously fought to restrict our rights and want eventually to make our recreation become illegal and give themselves exclusive rights to dig and touch OUR history. During this time, the majority of the archeological community has consumed precious public resources trying to eliminate our recreation and influence lawmakers. Many legislators are finally realizing we Detectorists are not the monster threat they were lead to believe. Currently a few lawmakers are seeing this "inquisition" as a self-preservation tactic to insure a livelihood. If our critics were to succeed, not only will they deny people a healthy lifestyle, they will destroy American metal detector manufacturers and the employment they provide.
Without metal detectors, the archeological community would not have the major discoveries made recently in Great Britain such as the largest cache of Saxon gold artifacts in modern time. Even before this grand discovery, the English government adeptly recognized the significance of the metal detectorist as an important resource... The British government has intelligently resorted to rewarding their responsible detectorists rather than prosecute them. They financially compensate the landowner and detectorist for the value of the find so it can be preserved for public view for ALL to appreciate and learn from. If the item has been found not to be a major significance, they allow the finder to simply keep what they found. A fair system we should adopt in the USA to get significant finds into daylight more quickly. Without this cooperation we shorten precious time in which great discoveries can be made. Conventional archeology in the U.S. today cannot compete with powerful swift commercial land development. Wait long enough and nature has a way of reclaiming historical artifacts permanently. Punishing a people's recreation is not the means to making great strides in archeology.
However, not all archeologists are our detractors, at least not the progressive few. Significant history changing data was gathered at the battle site of Little Big Horn because a few forward thinking archeologists realized they could work with detectorists and harness our skill for the good of all. In effect, they made their own occupation easier, faster, and promoted good will instead of destroying it. The volunteer detectorists I'm sure made the project significantly less costly as well. Many of us, myself included, would be honored to serve on any project like that. This was a small step in the right direction, why is there not more of this happening today?
In summation, I hope these words help to convince everyone we need to work together and not waste time rescuing our history. When I became sixteen years old, I started in metal detecting because I knew my family's financial resources would never support the extended education necessary for my life's desire of becoming an Archeologist... Now you know why our "recreation" is so important to everyone.
Last October Scott Mitchen had the pleasure to preview Bob Kreipke’s film called “America’s Ancient Industry,” at the Ancient America conference in Marquette, MI. This film tells the story of the millions of tons of the purest copper on earth mined possibly even up to 10,000 years ago. Fifteen years earlier, Bob Kreipke also did a film on Scott retrieving logs that ended up being the focus on the Ford Motor Company’s Board Room.
Kreipke’s film produced with Janine McFadden will start on PBS January 3rd at 8:00 p.m. and on January 4th at 12:00 p.m.(this is the Marquette, MI market). Check the PBS website for listings in your local area. This tells a great story and parallels some of what Scott Mitchen has actually been finding for some 15 years in the Lake Superior region. In the next few year’s I.E.’s discoveries will be featured on major networks around the globe.
Again, check your local PBS listings for Bob Kreipke’s film and stay tuned for upcoming shows about International Exploration's discoveries and articles....
In my post of December 9th I mentioned a class ring I had found in my junk jewelry box (from years ago), and I am happy to say I did indeed find the owner, returned it, and she just called to thank me and wish me a Merry Christmas. The class ring was from Notre Dame Academy in Philadelphia, and the year was 1950....
Mrs. McIntyre, who turned 80 in June, now lives in North Carolina, and was very surprised to get her ring after all these years. She thought she had left it in a department store bathroom while washing her hands, but was not sure. In any case she has promised to send a photo or two, and when I receive them I will share here. Having her receive her ring on Christmas eve made my day! Merry Christmas again to all of you!
John Howland has seen fit to bless Stout Standards three days before Christmas with a few words, and I thank him for taking a break from his holiday binge (spending a holiday with him must be something...cannnot imagine). John finds a reason to celebrate any day or event, let alone the big one. In any case if you are so inclined to read his latest, simply click here.
Also, because it's Christmas, let me add this... Over the past year I have characterized John as a half-wit, a drunk, a foul-mouthed, uncouth, tastless individual and I often belittled him. It's time now that I set the record straight and be upfront with all of you. All those things I said? THEY'RE ALL TRUE!!!
Not sure if I will post anything more before Christmas day, but if not, remember that the finest treasure in life is already yours. Spend time with your family, your friends and remember there are many who are not so fortunate. Whatever problems you may have are very minor compared to others. Enjoy this Christmas, give thanks for all you have, and I hope your next big treasure is just a beep away.....
Got thinking about my being a guest on the Relic Roundup the other night, and realized that I had a lot of notes, some scribbled, some neatly printed, that never got addressed. No fault of the program for sure. Just the result of only an hour show, call-ins, commercials and a glitch here and there. There are, in my mind, so many issues that need to be addressed, discussed, and dealt with, and I wonder if they will ever be....
For whatever reason our hobby is always in a state of flux. Always a fuzzy picture of who we are collectively, and seemingly a group of people who endorse the "every man for himself" theory. We seem to find ways to shoot ourselves in the foot when it matters most, and then move on, waiting for the next opportunity to do it again. Our main concern seems to be outdoing the competition, and stopping at nothing to accomplish that, never mind the public's view of how we do it.
While I have no idea of how many of us there are in the country, I do think we are a large enough group to affect changes when needed IF we had some functional, professional group to represent us, and IF we weren't a group of selfish, penny-pinching individuals. If you take offense at being called cheap, sorry. It's true. You will spend your hard earned cash to purchase a top of the line detector, a digging tool, a sand scoop, or a camera to wear on your head, but if asked to contribute $50 a year to promote, protect and preserve the pastime, you turn a deaf ear..
Spend some time on the many hobby related websites and forums. Take note of which topics garner the most responses. Very few, if any, deal with areas being closed to detecting, or similar efforts that threaten the future of our pastime. I know it's not a fun thing to "chat" about, but that's where a national organization would come in. Right now we "supposedly" have the FMDAC, the TASK FORCE, WWATS, and hell, let's throw in the PLP, and the GPA.
Right now we seem to be more concerned with tomorrow's hunt, tomorrow's finds, and tomorrow's new product, unaware that the other side is actively working hard to put all of us out of business. Will we make the necessary changes, or will just be a group of people who metal detect, and who only care about what WE find, not what our fellow detectorists are facing or fighting.
Received the following update on the forthcoming WWATS event from Keith Wills and wanted to share it here. This just might be a good time for the various organizations to meet and come together? Just a thought....
I must apologize for not acknowledging Bob Sickler and his artwork (the banner on my blog). A lot of you asked about it, and how I came up with it. Bottom line? I didn't. My old friend Bob simply did it for me because he wanted to, and I want to thank him here for doing so. Bob has worked for many of the metal detector manuafacturers over the years, doing graphics, catalogs, logo's etc., and his book "The Detectorist" is without a doubt one of the best metal detecting books on the market.
I check out my Warsaw pal's blog from time to time, and it's sad to see someone so consumed with hatred toward those of us who metal detect. Mr. Barford let me suggest reading Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" and Merry Christmas from all us tekkies!
I really enjoyed doing the American Digger Magazine's Relic Roundup Show, and my only regret was that we didn't get to tackle a few areas that I wanted to address. Then again I appreciated hearing from a few old friends who kindly called in to say hello, and to share a few stories from years ago....
The first caller Dan Sivilich was a delegate to the FMDAC way back when, and is now involved with the BRAVO organization, and still continues to promote our efforts. The next caller, Scott Mitchen shared the time he accidentally pulled a chair out from under Charles Garrett's wife at one of the FMDAC banquets in Atlantic City. It was one of the first times he spoke before a large crowd, and needless to say, helping Eleanor Garrett up off the floor wasn't in his plans!
Then Mark Schuessler and Denny Morrison were nice enough to call in and say hi, and it was good hearing their voices again. Mark is now the new president of the FMDAC, and is in the process of reorganizing the group. Looking forward to hearing more about this after the first of the year. If anyone can bring back some life to the FMDAC it's Mark. I have known Mark for close to 35 years, and he is a "do'er" and was always available to help out the cause. I wish him luck.
Many thanks to Butch Holcombe, Dwayne Anderson and Jeff Lubbert for having me on the show, and I hope I get a reinvite so that we can discuss those other areas that we didn't have time to get to. For those of you who weren't able to listen in you can hear the podcast by clicking HERE.
Shortly after the show last night I got an email from Ron saying he was tied up and was only able to listen to the last ten minutes of the show. I am hoping that maybe Butch, Dwayne and Jeff will consider inviting Ron to be a guest on Relic Roundup. Would certainly be a great show. Ron just posted the following on his FB page, and I am anxious to hear more about what's in the works...
Well it has been a long time coming but I signed the contract today. Mark and I are starting a new project, more info as soon as I can. Probably spring or early summer".
Whatever the "project" is, given the success of the "Lucky Muckers" show it should be great.... To learn more about Ron check out his website by clicking here. and if you want to watch the Lucky Muckers it's now online.
Always thought it was cool to simply be known as "Chicago Ron"....how many other can other people can lay claim to a moniker like that? I thought about working on something similar, but "Dallas Dick" somehow doesn't work (forget commenting Howland). On the British Metal Detecting website I have already been labeled "John's Dick" because of my association with John Winter, and I am now thinking seriously about using "Richard" a little more. Can't win for trying....
Have received word from Butch Holcombe that the bugs have been fixed, and I am a go for tomorrow night. Hope you will tune in to The American Digger's Relic Roundup show, and hope too that you might also find time to call in. I am honored to be a guest on this great show, and I am looking forward to it (even took a bath yesterday)......
John Howland saw the need to verbalize his feelings once again (always a scary thing), and if you are the least bit interested in what the sot has to say, CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW.....
Received the following information from Keith Wills today about the group's forthcoming event in Arizona, February of next year. If you are interested in attending be sure to save the following event information...
Over the years I have routinely received the monthly newsletter of the Shore Seeker Artifact & Recovery Club out of Salisbury, Maryland. I have fond memories of the people in this club from when I was living on the East coast, and I love their newsletter, especially their monthly hunt activities. They mimic many of the UK clubs, in that they meet monthly at a predetermined site and spend an entire day detecting. Their sites, again like the Brits, are large farm fields, and they work hard at obtaining permission to not only hunt them, but to keep an ongoing relationship with the landowners...
It's a great idea for comraderie, and I would like to see other clubs do the same. The area doesn't have to be the site of a battle, old homesite, old school or old church. Just a few acres of land that might hold a find or two, and that allows for a group to hunt, socialize and have fun (and do not underestimate the potential for interesting finds).
Well I thought with all my UK website and blog followers I would have had more responses to my my request for help with my Roman finds, but apparently not. John Howland did take a shot, and sent this email to me....
I've made a little progress and have some results. Top coin is unidentifiable, but dates from about 275ad to 375ad.
John also wanted to be on record that these are his best guesses since it was not easy to read the inscriptions or mint marks from the photos. He further stated that he could be more accurate had he been able to measure and weigh them....
These coins were found on my first trip to the UK, and were identified at the time, but I neglected to label them or write down the opinions of the expert in the field at the time. Thanks John for taking the time to study them.....owe you a drink or two. I can also certainly say these coins were indeed before my time....
If any other UK coin authorities are out there and would like to take a shot, have at it and please let me know your thoughts..
In my last update I mentioned this situation, and decided to send off an email expressing my concerns. This was the response I received.....
Thanks for your comments. I truly understand your feelings on the subject and up until this last incident came up I totally agreed with you. In fact my first suggestion was to let it be "metal detected" by permit only. I have talked to two gentleman who would hunt the park from time to time and I saw no problem with it. These two fine men would turn ANYTHING that they found in and I have a box of stuff that I am planing a shadow box for now to display at the town hall to prove it. They like yourself, do it for the shear thrill of the hunt.
There was a battle in Funkstown during the retreat from Gettysburg and 475 men where hurt or wounded in this fight. So the problem came when another person was hunting the town park and found a civil war musket. That person was telling people about where he found it and would not turn it over to the town who is the rightful owners of the artifact since it was found on their property and it is part of their history. Then I discovered that another man found a breast plate which had the same results.
So my friend it was not an arbitrary ban that we made, it was based on the dishonest people that takes a good thing and ruins it for everyone. Believe me if there where more honest people like your self we would not need half of the rules that we have on the books. I do hope you see our side of this discussion as we are proud of our history in Funkstown and do not mind sharing it with everyone as we are a very small town. But when you have people that are going out and taking parts of it and keep it for them selfs, that part we cannot share with anyone and in due time it is lost. Who is to say this ruling will stand for ever? The right group may come in to the town and make a good hard case for hunting this area and agree to turn over their findings to the town and get approval, but until that day comes along there will be no hunting in the town park for now.
Rich Gaver, Town Council Member, email@example.com
"Dear Mr. Gaver,
As publisher of a national magazine involved with metal detecting, I, like many others, are concerned over the ban on metal detecting in your historic city. While I have heard it stemmed from a relic hunter finding a musket in a city park and not turning it over to the city, I still have several concerns. Here are my feelings:
(1) This is a situation of overkill. Arrest the person who took the item, if it was illegally taken, instead of a blanket ban on detecting. If it was not illegally taken, then weigh the rarity of such an item being found (99.99% of detector finds are common items of very little monetary value) versus the displeasure of tens of thousands of hobbyists across the nation. This story has gone viral and will continue to be spread via publications like ours and groups such as the Federation of Metal Detector and Archaeological Clubs. It may make no difference to the town of Funkstown, but it certainly will not help with tourism. Metal detectorists are history buffs in general, have families, and go on vacations to such sites, but their general attitude now is that they will not visit-nor spend money- at towns that prove themselves anti metal detecting.
(2) If such a ban stands, what is to become of the artifacts which are deteriorating rapidly? It is a fact that metal artifacts, particularly iron (as a musket is) deteriorate rapidly in the general soil conditions of North America. If you have any doubts of this, visit an auto junkyard and note the older vehicles rusting away. The effects under the ground are magnified. To not allow artifacts to be excavated in a timely manner is to rob society of relics of their past. While archeologists could be employed to do this, is the city willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer dollars to recover what any relic hunter or metal detectorists would gladly do for free? Are the taxpayers willing?
There are numerous other concerns, but these are the two that seem to stand above all others. We would hope that you reconsider this position and we can post something positive in our magazine. We will also likely be talking about this ban on our weekly show, Relic Roundup, (www.therelicroundup.blogspot.com/). We invite you to tune in, and would welcome you as a guest or caller.
We respectfully urge you to reconsider this ban, as the metal detecting hobby is much larger and more organized than many believe. We are a cross section of society, including voters, businessmen, retirees, and even some powerful and wealthy. We are mainstream taxpaying Americans who communicate closely with those within the hobby, and as a rule do not visit, promote, or vote for that which threatens our hobby.
Butch Holcombe, Publisher, American Digger Magazine
Spent a good part of yesterday going through my boxes of UMO's, (a term the late Joe Cook, coined) junk jewelry and wheats, and came up with a few gems I didn't know I had. I highly recommend this task to those of you who might find yourself wintered in....
Apparently over the years I was in too much of a hurry to get back in the field to really look at many of the items I found, or then again maybe it's because I was much too into coins....not sure which. In any case going through the junk jewelry items I found 18 rings, a couple gold, the rest silver, and a load of buttons to check out. Again, have never been keen on collecting buttons, but after seeing a few from the relic websites, it's probably worth my time to research them. That takes care of another day for sure.
I also found a class ring from The Academy of Notre Dame in Philadelphia, class of 1950, with initials. Not sure how that got by me and into the junk box, but I just sent off an email to the school to see if they might be able to provide a name or address. Will let you know how that turns out.... The band on the ring was cut, and perhaps that was why it wound up where it did....
Also came across a few silver religious medals, and one of the rings just might be inset with a diamond. Not sure about that though. A few of the stones on the side are missing, but the ring is 14k. Another interesting item was a small urn, and it appeared to have an inscription on the bottom and a date. After looking closer it read "Vantine", and the number was 1007. A quick "Google" search told me it was an old incense burner, but it's missing the top part. It was selling for anywhere from $30 to $60 on the internet, so I suppose another day will be spent going through the junk boxes looking for the lid. Amazing what you can amass after 40 years......
Also discovered I had two more shoe boxes of wheaties in the garage.....more sorting and time for a better magnifier loop, especially with a lot of the more recent error coins coming to light...
Thanks to the "I'm a Detectorist and I Vote" Facebook site for bringing to light the following situation. Seems to me to be extremely discriminatory, especially since no one person has been singled out, and also because the city has no laws pertaining to metal detecting. What's your take on this?
Love these comments..."A Civil War battle occurred in the area of the park and Phillips said a “very expensive piece” was dug up in the park recently." ....no specifics given? Then he continues with the ole standby “what’s in the ground stays in the ground.”
Willing to bet an archaeologist has this guy's ear.....just a guess, but I'm thinking it's a pretty darn good one.
While scouring the boxes above I also found an envelope containing a few Roman finds from back in the 80's. Wondering if anyone can ID for me.... very little detail however. The obverse, or what I believe to be the obverse, is on the left, and the reverse on the right. Any help would be appreciated. Most important approximate date or era....
Every morning after breakfast I make the trek upstairs to check my email, and whatever else the PC has in mind for me. Usually it's comments or likes from something I posted on Facebook, or it's a comment about my blog. Lately however I am getting requests to download "apps", check out friends on Linkedin, Twitter away my day, or join someone on Google+, whatever the hell that is.
Amazingly I did sign up for Linkedin when I lost my job last year, but apparently no one noticed my skills as a "Independent Wine and Spirits Professional". At least no one has called to hire me yet (for the record I am still looking for a job like that).
Whenever I click on some of these requests/links I see things like "especially good for smart phone apps", and often the people who are sending me these things have taken the liberty of already adding my name to whatever the program is? Can I please set a few things straight?
I do not have a smart phone. I am not smart, and do not need one, nor can I afford one. The cell phone I have works perfectly fine, and will suffice if I have an emergency on the road (the only reason I even own a cell phone). Likewise I use it so seldom that I have accumulated so many minutes that AT&T has given up counting them. Next I don't need to learn another program, app, or method of contact. I am perfectly happy with the phone, email and the internet. Everything else is just more of the same, no matter what you call it.
Fay and I are also avid readers but we prefer "books" not Nooks, Kindles, Kobos, pinatas, whatever ....you know. those bound paper products that have pages, and written text. You see I like collecting books, and adding them to my book shelves, and if I leave a book on a plane, I can get another for a minimal cost. If I leave one of those other electic thigamajigs on the plane I am out quite a few bucks.
Lastly, I do not plan on putting a camera on my head, and taking movies of my metal detecting forays in the field. I do it for my enjoyment, not that of others. Plus I doubt very much that anyone would want to watch me spend ten minutes of getting to the kneeling positon, and fifteen more trying to stand upright again. A detector, headphones, digging tool and apron are all I need, although a walker may well be become part of my arsenal pretty soon.
Trust me, I can appreciate all the new things that are out there. Just don't sign me up. It's all I can do to set the sprinkler system to automatic, or the clocks after a power outage. In the meantime you play with your I phone, I pad, GPS, Google plus, Android, Linkedin and whatever else turns you on. Just leave me out please?
This post has nothing at all to do with metal detecting but it does have a lot to do with treasure hunting, as in finding someone who can help enrich your life beyond belief. I suspect you all know how much I love my dogs, and for that matter, all animals. Our two pugs, and those that came before, have given us an outlook on life that we never knew about. We now cannot imagine living without them.
Fay and I have had various pets over the years....you name them. Hamsters, Guinea pigs for the kids, and dogs and cats. We loved them all, and they made our lives that much richer. We now have Barnum and Mollie. Barnum is 11 years old, fawn in color, and my best friend. Mollie, is black, three years old, and Fay's best friend.
We adopted Mollie from the Dallas/Fort Worth Pug Rescue Program, and they had rescued her from a "puppy mill" in Oklahoma. She was only two years old, underweight, afraid of males and had already delivered two litters. It took me a year a half to gain her trust and respect. She would run if I approached, and she would never let me pick her up. All that has changed now, and we are the best of friends.
If you have never had a dog or cat in your life, now is the perfect time to consider it. While no kill shelters are becoming more numerous, most town and city shelters will eutheanize when their census builds to capacity. These are living, breathing, creatures, who deserve to live a decent life just like you and I, and through no fault of their own, have wound up there because someone just didn't care.
I was going to say I am sorry that I have hijacked a metal detecting site to post this, but I will not. Bring someone new into your life and give them a home, a bed to sleep in, a meal or two a day. Take them for a walk every once in a while, and you will have found the best and most loyal friend you could have ever imagined. And without a doubt he or she will be one of the greatest treasures you ever found!
When you get older you tend to think a lot about the past, or as they say, the good ole days, and I am no different. Someone emailed me last night, and wanted my opinion on which detector to buy. My response to his question, and others I receive just like it? What are you planning to use it for, what are your expectations, where do you live, how much time do you have to participate, and most important, how much money are you willing to spend? It got me thinking about all the various brands and models I have used over the years, and how each one actually added to my overall enjoyment of this pastime.
It was in the early 70's that I first begin to think about buying a metal detector. I was an amateur coin collector of sorts...one of those guys who tried to fill in the holes in the various coin books. I subscribed to Numismatic News and Coin World, and inevitably my eyes would be drawn to those metal detector adds. Finding coins for free sounded a helluva lot better than paying for them.
One day at work I brought up the subject to a co-worker, and he told me about a friend of his whose father sold metal detectors. A few days later I called the gentleman, and bought my first metal detector....a White's Coinmaster. Paid it off by giving him what few extra dollars I had each week (unbeknownst to my wife), and after about six weeks, I had it in my hands.
After beating around the bushes I finally told Fay what it cost (if I remember right it was about $250), and of course she wasn't overly happy, and she was right on my heels when I took it out to the front yard and turned it on. I had no clue what to do with it, but somehow I managed to dig every nail and bottle cap ever manufactured. That did not help in convincing Fay that I had not been "taken for a ride".
The next morning I took it down to a park in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Turned it on, still not understanding what the hell metal/mineral meant, and dug the first beep I heard, and to my surprise and relief, it was a 1964 quarter. Of course Fay wasn't there to see it, but this "thing" apparently could find coins! Keep in mind too that silver hadn't been out of circulation all that long at the time, and finding that same coin today is a lot more exciting, but it was still nice knowing that maybe I hadn't wasted my money.
My interest in metal detecting grew in leaps and bounds, as did my finds, and my metal detector purchases. I went from the Coinmaster to a Compass Judge II, and then onto a Garrett Groundhog VLF/TR (remember reverse discrimination?). Next was a Fisher 553D (double stacked tuners....you could turn knobs forever), a White's 6000, and 6000di Series2 (my sentimal favorite), a Garrett AT3 (one of the first waterproof detectors), a Garrett Freedom 3, Grand Master, and for the past 22 years I have finally settled in with my first love....anything White's.
I have used all of the 6000 series, the Eagle, Spectrum, XLT, Classic, MXT, DFX, V3i, and I am now very happy with my MXT Pro.
Detectors I still own? Garrett Freedom 3, Garrett VLF/TR Groundhog, White's Liberty Di (Fay's detector) White's V3i and MXT Pro. Is there one I am sorry I got rid of? Yes, the White's 6000di Series 2 (have been looking for a used one now for some time (preferably hip mount). I have also field tested other brands and models over the years, but did not keep them or use them for any extended period.
If this sounds like an advertisement for White's Electronics, so be it. There are a lot of reasons for my close association with the company, but I will not go into it here. Suffice to say they make a great product, and the people at the factory are like family to me. Let me also add that there are a lot of other manufacturers out there who also make great detectors. The ultimate decision of what to buy is yours and yours alone. Whatever you choose, good luck and good hunting.
Well, it figures. I agree to do the show, and nothing works. It's the ole Dick Stout curse. The folks at Relic Roundup could not work out their audio problems last night, and after about twenty minutes of trying, decided to cancel and reschedule. So for all of you who were so anxious to hear me (all two of you) you will have to tune in again on December 17th. Sorry.
While reading through John's recent article, "Stalin's Lost Secret" I realized I left out one of the most important parts....the all important map. Be sure to read again, and this time just perhaps the map might give you the incentive to solve this WW2 mystery.
And, if you haven't read it, please do. You can find it by clicking here. Fascinating story....
Just a reminder that I will be the guest on Butch Holcombe's American Digger Magazine's Relic Roundup tomorrow night, 9PM EST. To tune in, just visit the American Digger page, scroll down to the Relic Roundup link, click on it, then click on the green arrow, give yourself a name, and listen in. There's also a phone number listed in case you'd like to call in. Hope you will do both....it's your chance to finally get even with this old man.
Since I started Stout Standards almost three years ago John Howland, a.k.a. the Malamute Saloon, became my counterpart in the UK. We have known each other for a long time, and I think it's safe to say we respect each other (depending of course on who next is buying the rounds). I lampoon him a lot, and he returns the favor, but what many of you don't know is that John is one helluva writer, and has contributed many an article to magazines in the UK, as well as here in the states.
He is also the author of Treasure in British Waters, a terrific read if you can find a copy.....Please do yourself a favor and read his latest offering ....it's intrigue at it's best and a side of John you haven't seen. Thank you John, for contributing to my pawtry blog, and most of all, for being my friend. I realize saying that will cost me dearly in single malts, but I mean it.
While in France I witnessed démineurs (deminers) retrieving an unexploded bomb from a beach in Brittany. Over the years the Département du Déminage has lost over 620 members while performing this task. Nothing to fool around with at all.....
Wanted to remind you I also have a blog, and there you can comment on any of mine or John Howland's topics. You can also add your email address and be notified of updates as soon as they are posted. If you are interested in this simply click on the banner below......