Dreaming…A Lost Art?

When I started detecting back in the 70’s I did a lot of reading.  I read books by Karl von Mueller, Charles Garrett, Roy Lagal, Roy Volker, Dick Richmond, Glenn Carson and Estee Conatser, among others.  I read Western & Eastern Treasures, Lost Treasure, Treasure Found, Treasure, Treasure World, World of Treasures, True Treasure and Old West magazines. When I read I was transported to places I’d never been and it didn’t matter that I was a newbie, in my  mind and I was a treasure hunter.

Fast forward to today…. Many of the authors mentioned above have passed on, the number of treasure magazines available today has dwindled dramatically and the ability to dream, to keep those treasures alive, real or imaginary, seems to have also disappeared.  A fellow New Jerseyite Tony Conti (a.k.a. Big Tony from Bayonne) and I talk  about this and still share thoughts, theories and ideas on legendary treasures, especially those back home in the Northeast.

DoanHave I ever looked for legendary treasures?  Yes I have. I and a friend, Joe Attinello (who passed away in March of this year), spent some time looking for the cave where the Doan Gang  supposedly buried their loot in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and later we searched for John Ringo’s treasure, only seven miles from my house in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Did we find them? No. Did they really exist? Hard to say.  What I do know is that we had a helluva lot of fun researching and looking for them and who knows maybe someday someone will find one or both. How cool would that be?

In the mid-80’s I was privileged to meet Mel Fisher shortly after he discovered the Atocha. He was in Atlantic City the same weekend of our FMDAC event and Charles  McKinney, Director of the Atlantic Alliance for Maritime Heritage, invited Fay and I to their event at another hotel nearby. When we entered the crowded room, there  in the middle was Mel Fisher with a huge gold chain around his neck and a bevy of young gals hanging all over him.

Charles introduced us, we shook hands and while he was “six sheets to the wind” he was still able to remove the chain and put it around Fay’s neck, whispering sweet nothings in her ear while doing it. Yup, here was Mel Fisher making a move on my wife and all I could do was just stand there staring in awe. After all here was a guy who had a dream, one that lasted sixteen years, cost millions of dollars, took the lives of his son and daughter-in-law and he never gave up!

Anyway, today is today, I am what I am, and life goes on. I can deal with it (well some days I can). At my age I know I will never get to look for the Lost Dutchman, Oak Island or Little Big Horn treasures, but I will remember the Doan gang, John Ringo and the night Mel Fisher was hitting on my wife…



  • How long before detecting videos on YouTube wind up getting someone in trouble?
  • When all is said and done don’t we just need volume, disc, and all metal?
  • How many treasure hunting forums do we really need, and aren’t the same people on all of them?
  • A suggestion….learn to use a probe. I predict you won’t be sorry and you won’t get your sorry ass kicked out of parks.
  • Are video cameras, swingy thingys and camo now considered standard equipment?
  • Whatever happened to George Payne?
  • Would archaeologists be happier if the Staffordshire hoard was never found?
  • Tell the truth…how many of you have found enough treasure to cover the cost of your gear?
  • Ever wonder if all those tekkies who claim to have found “numerous” gold coins really did?
  • Here’s hoping every metal detector manufacturer offers wireless headphones for all new models in the future. I mean the technology is not exactly new…
  • I think every detecting club should ask members to save all their trash, and then at the end of the year put it in a box and deliver it to the local city hall with a “your welcome” note attached!
  • Typical script for treasure hunting reality shows. “Holy cow, come here, look at his” (commercial break) and “I would say it’s worth….pause….pause….pause,  a zillion dollars”
  • Hate to say it but it’s hard for me to get excited about a Roosie or Merc anymore. It’s either old age or one of my pills.
  • Just my opinion but I think the shovel type recovery tools are not helping our image?
  • As much as I hate to admit it, those middle range targets tend to take a back seat now…hurts too much just to add to my pulltab collection.
  • Why have we become such a “it’s their problem not mine” group of hobbyists? Don’t believe me? Go on a forum, tell them about your city parks being closed and see how many responses you get….
  • Why do pin-pointers cost so much? I mean really, come on!
  • Why can’t we get back to basics again….no knee pads, no pin-pointers, no lethal diggers, no cameras…..you know, just research and leg work? Hell, I’ll even give up my walker!
  • Curious. Would your wife let you go detecting with a female club member? Just the two of you?
  • Am I the only one who misses the old short, staccato-like audio responses? Seems they used to define targets so much better.
  • Why do arkies blame US because THEY aren’t working?
  • And finally, will Wally and Harry ever get a pair?



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Filed under Metal Detecting

18 responses to “Dreaming…A Lost Art?

  1. RoyR

    You have to want a pair before you can get a pair.

  2. Yes, I can also relate to the good old days when one of the notable treasure hunters would come out with a new book. I would be sure and purchase one. I remember the time a local treasure hunter and I drove down to Weeping Water, Neb. to see this treasure hunter that sold books and metal detectors in an old Bank Building. I had never heard of the guy but my buddy had met this man here in Fremont set up at a coin show a month previous and wanted me to meet him . We drove down and I purchased a few books on treasure hunting and started reading them when we got home. The guy even autographed them for me. He signed them, this way. To Paul Tainter, with kindest personal regards and best wishes to a good friend. Karl Von Mueller, 8/11/65. The rest is history. Yes, Dick I still have these books and many more.

    • Paul, I suspect your library is second to none when it comes to treasure hunting, and If you are not already doing so please consider writing a book. You are a veritable vault of information, and all of it fascinating, practical and useful. Trust me, when ever your “Treasure Hunters Express” newsletter shows up in my mailbox it’s a good day.

      Seriously Paul, write that book. KVM would tell you the same thing.

  3. Robbie

    The way Wally and Harry carry on—– I thought they were a pair !!!!

  4. Robbie

    In the last 6 years I found enough clad to pay for all my gear…the new gear and old gear I had bought before.(Not counting what I got selling my old gear).

  5. Always enjoy your blogs. Your musings were…amusing! Keep up the great work boss!

  6. Big Tony from Bayonne

    Hello Dick, yeah, I love a good treasure story! Gets the blood moving in the right direction. They even had one recently on a TV show called Breaking Bad, (fiction of course or was it?) This guy stashed 100 million in cash from drug proceeds. I am not a fan of earning money that way but wouldn’t mind stumbling on it while out detecting. Then use Karl Von Muller rules and keep your mouth shut!

    I do believe I have paid for my equipment over the years but not the gas and tolls! Especially here in NJ, man they are killing us with toll taxes. My wife would never go detecting period! If pin pointers are too expensive for some then consider then one from Harbor Freight tools that works great and is inexpensive. It also breaks like the expensive ones too but I was able to repair it.

    Too many questions and so little time – been busy lately with family stuff but it is good stuff!

    Hey I was wondering what happened to that treasure that you posted about Forest Fenn – he recovered from his illness, right? I wonder how many folks purchased his book?

    • Hey Tony, understand your wife not detecting, but would she let YOU go detecting with another gal? Answer the question my friend….LOL.

      Think the Forest Fenn thing is still out there. Latest I could find was this…


      • Big Tony from Bayonne

        Hello Dick, not any more than your wife will let you – LOL –
        There are women in the ECRDA club and my wife is aware of that fact. She will have to make an appearance when they display the Rev War breast plate that I found – probably this fall. Thanks for the Fenn update – I can only dream of looking for that one from my arm chair for now.

      • Tony, not sure what you mean? I go out with young gals two, three times a week. No big deal.

      • Big Tony from Bayonne

        Hey Dick, here is a few lines from the Fenn article – “And what does Fenn have to say about all the publicity and commotion his hidden treasure story has generated? He replied, “I’ve never said what I though the treasure is worth because I don’t know, but writers keep upping its worth. When the value gets to $10 million I’m going back to get it.”
        Is he talking about guys like you? Nah!

  7. Out of my league Tony….I suspect that those writing about this however do exaggerate the total. It may wind up being a legend long after dead and gone.

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