Western & Eastern Treasures

Did the title of this article intrigue you? Scare you? If it did either of these things, then it was a good title, because it relates to the challenges we all face today. If your son, daughter or grandchildren are to find the pastime as much fun and exciting as you and I did, we must do something about it today.

Itís not a matter of letting them deal with the problems, the bureaucracy, the potential oppressing of our endeavors, later on. We must act now. Metal detecting, treasure hunting, whatever you care to call it, is a pastime that has fascinated me for 30 years. It was the natural outgrowth of my numismatic interest, but one that soon became my one and only passion. Being able to be in the outdoors, enjoying fresh air, and in the process, finding old coins, remnants of past history, was all that I could have asked for. I had wondered if these metal detecting contraptions worked. They did, and I was hooked.

In the Beginning

In the beginning, or at least in the late seventies (my beginning), my concern was learning how to use my metal detector, and in finding coins that I could add to my collection. I didnít worry much about being chased off public property, nor was I paranoid about who was watching me. I had a great ole time, and I found silver coins galore, some valuable, and some not, and it was a whole lot of fun. Looking back today I know there were others involved in the pastime even earlier than me, finding even more and I am envious.

Now letís fast forward to 2010. Today we have many, many more participants, and as a result we are more recognizable. By that I mean, someone metal detecting is not that novel anymore. Anyone on a coastal beach sees us metal detecting pretty much every day, and likewise inland, we can be see scanning for treasure in any number of places. Add into all this the internet, and you will see we are not invisible to anyone anymore. Our numbers have grown, and our status is beginning to be questioned.

For whatever reason, some people in the academic community, most notably archaeologists, tend to see us as threats. Individual vigilantes whose only goal is to rob the world of all that is sacred....scavengers. In my sane world I see us as people who like to get out in the fresh air, find a silver coin or two, an old civil war relic, and just maybe a diamond ring. Hobbyists, whose only goal is come home a little richer than when they started the day. Richer maybe by only 25 cents, but richer, nonetheless....

As a result of this scrutiny, we are constantly on our toes, watching various bills and regulations proposed and voted on, and ultimately trying to inject our feelings and opinions to those who represent us. While we are not always successful in this effort, we are treading water, and thanks to the numerous detector clubs, associations and federations, actually making a little headway. Those in Washington are starting to know us, and while we may not represent a majority, we are indeed having some impact on legislation.

What Lies Ahead?

As we continue to grow in numbers, we must be resolute in our effort to preserve, protect and promote our pastime. Itís not hunting, fishing, trapping, nor is it off roading. Itís merely a few hours in the park, at the school yard, the old home site, the ghost town, or the flea market area. Itís looking for relics on that land close by a Civil War event, and itís prospecting for gold in the hills of California. Itís a pastime, not a crime, and we are entitled to this. One way to keep this pastime alive is to introduce others to it. Share it with your children, your grandchildren, and your relatives and neighbors. Explain what a metal detector is, what it does, and invite them to accompany you in the field. Allow them to experience the thrill of a worthy find, an old coin, a matchbox car, a gold ring or a relic that is indicative of local or national history. Share with them what it is that got you so involved in this pastime, and that keeps you going. They are the detectorists, and treasure hunters of tomorrow. They will hopefully propagate the pastime, and ensure that it continues for years to come.

Hannah & Hayden Baxter
Hannah & Hayden Baxter detecting school yard

I suspect there are many reasons why you, and why I got involved in the metal detecting, treasure hunting pastime, but ultimately it was for the thrill of the search. We had no prior knowledge that participating would offer us rewards, and we had no guarantee that we would be richer. We can remember wishing, and hoping that today would be the day, but we also knew that it would probably not be. That, however, is what metal detecting and treasure hunting is all about. Itís about the dream, the research and the effort, and if it all pans out and makes us richer...so be it. We knew going in that this would probably not be the case, but we also knew that the process would be fun, and it surely is!!

Knowing this, letís make sure this process continues on for years to come. You and I will probably not live to see the demise of the pastime, but we can certainly do our part to insure it continues for our children, and their children and their....