A Simpler Time?

Not sure why but tekkie Dave McMahon liked my last update so much that he shared it on a few blogs/FB pages. He even labeled it a ‘wake up’ and added:

“I found the last part of this article to be not only eye-opening, but the no bullshit truth!! Finally a voice of reason emerges from this hobby & lifestyle, amongst all the lost purpose, this article rings like the bells of beautiful revolution!!! Excellently written and thanks to Dick Stout for opening my eyes and reminding me why I do this!!!”

Note to my wife  ….  Dave said “voice of reason”! 

Dave later added “Be interesting to see Dick Stout, what your opinions are on the hobby going back to the simpler, more genuine ways, and get away from all the nonsense..”

Well here goes Dave….. It’s somewhat disjointed and somewhat confusing but hey, that’s my life in a nutshell.  Remember too it’s only my opinion!

“I am not one of those who in expressing opinions confine themselves to facts”…..Mark Twain



Everyone knows by now that I tend to get turned off by the ever increasing overkill and over hype of our hobby. I also suspect I am the only tekkie today who feels this way.  Perhaps it’s because I am 73 and like most seniors, tend to remember my early years, the good ole days, a time when I could seemingly do it all. It might also be because the internet has a way to over amplify everything. I honestly don’t know.  I mean aside from the Shadow “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of ‘old’ men?”

I started out detecting in the early 70’s because I was a coin collector.  I would see metal detector ads in Coin World and thought “damn, how cool to be able to find coins instead of buying them”.  Eventually I scratched my itch, bought a White’s ‘Coinmaster’ and voilà , I was a treasure hunter.  Interestingly, Joe Attinello*, the White’s dealer who sold the detector to me, became my detecting partner and we had a helluva lot of fun over the years.

It was indeed more fun to find them than buy them....

It was indeed more fun to find them than buy them….

In the beginning we hunted parks, schools and of course the Jersey shore. Joe wasn’t happy unless he was on the beach checking out the ladies wear (or lack thereof). In fact he was so into hunting the shore that he came up with an ingenious plan that would get us there for under a dollar.

You see when the first casinos opened in Atlantic City, they offered free round trip bus rides from various towns and cities within the state. They also gave you free lunch and ten dollars in tokens just to get you in their place of business.  Joe’s plan? We put our detectors in small gym bags, got on the bus and once we got to AC we each took turns watching our gear so we could get our free lunch tickets and our ten dollars in tokens. Next we stored our bags in one of the beach lockers (50 cents)  and started detecting.  We’d hunt for a while, put our detectors in the lockers, eat our free lunch (which was a fabulous all you eat buffet) and then used our tokens in the slots.  If we didn’t become independently wealthy we would hit the beach again and hunt until it was time to catch the bus back home (usually late afternoon). I hate to admit it but Joe’s plan worked like a charm.

Back then we almost always came home with quite a few silver coins and that’s not bragging. It was just how things were in the 70’s and early 80’s. The competition in our neck of the woods was virtually non-existent and it was a rarity to even come across someone else with a metal detector. Likewise, if you were diligent and did your homework, there was a good chance you would be the first to hunt that turn of the century one room school, church or picnic grove.  As a result I spent a great deal of time at the local library and became good friends with the gal in the research department, who always had a few new things for me to look at each time I visited.

At any given time I had a long list of places to try to locate and I would guess maybe a third of them would pan out and prove productive.  I was also lucky to be living in rural Hunterdon County, with old homesites and cellar holes literally in my back yard.  I was having fun and as I kept adding to my coin collection I soon became bored with anything newer than 1900.  If I didn’t come home with Barbers, Seated or Large cents it would be a bad day.

Okay, by now you are probably saying “knock off the BS Stout and tell us why this was a simpler time”... Well for starters, I only had ONE detector, with ONE coil, a carpenters apron and a large screwdriver. That my friends was my treasure hunting arsenal and I can’t ever remember having a malfunction in the field.  I also somehow managed to survive my forays into the wild without camouflage or week-long planning. It usually went something like this…

Hunt, come home, throw trash in garbage, junk items in box, clean coins, store in safe place, wash hands and pour a stiff one.  Next day…repeat.  It was a simpler time.

Today it seems everyone has to advertise their next “expedition”, spend five days getting their “gear” together, drive 300 miles, take photos and videos and when they come home, analyze every single thing they found.  Maybe it’s just me, but honestly I really don’t give a rat’s ass about that 1945 lid from a Vaseline jar or that rusty ole toilet seat hinge you found in an outhouse.  Sorry if that offends…JMO.

Look Ma, no pinpointer, no shovel, no camera and no camo!

Look Ma, no pinpointer, no shovel, no camera and no camo!

It was a simpler time because my pastime was not fueled by social media, but rather a once a month club meeting and a treasure magazine here and there. Likewise I wasn’t insulted or told how stupid I was, nor was I chastised for giving my opinion.  I was not reminded, or should I say beaten over the head, about having to have other searchcoils or accessories in order to be successful.  I was doing quite nicely thank you, with my stock 7 inch coil and miracles of miracles, I was quite successful without having a pinpointer, shovel or camera!  Jeezus, If my mother ever knew she would have killed me.!

It was a simpler time because instead of chatting on a forum I spent my spare time driving the back roads, looking for new places to detect.  I spent my winters reading, researching, taking notes, having coffee and ‘face to face’ conversations (imagine that) with Joe or Dan Hamilton (a later detecting partner of mine).  We would talk about where we might hunt when spring came and we’d joke about our past adventures, which almost always involved getting the best of each other at the end of the day.  Our outings were not just about finding things…they were about fresh air, exercise and camaraderie, and for all you forum groupies..there were no “experts” back then, just a few “regular” guys who liked share a beer, metal detect and have fun.

I know I am rambling so let me finish up….

Without a doubt the 70’s and 80’s were some of the best years of my life as well as the best years for enjoying my pastime. I was privileged to live in an area that had a lot of history and offered a lot of treasures to anyone who cared to seek them out. I can also honestly say I was never bothered or chased by anyone while swinging my coil, and the few tekkies I knew and associated with were always courteous and conscientious about leaving a site exactly as it was found.

Now having said all this, I don’t mean to imply that the pastime today is in ruins. I do think however that because of social media it’s choking on it’s current popularity and everyone’s over-hyped visions of grandeur. I really do try hard to get interested in and understand a lot of what you all are saying but honestly it’s hard for me.  Certainly there’s a generational thing involved, but I worry that what you are all ‘shouting and sharing’ in cyberspace will soon come back to bite you in the ass and in the long run, do more harm than good.  Then again, what the hell do I know? To me it’s still just a hobby and not a very complicated one at that.

“I’m developing an attachment for you-and it fits right over your mouth”…Karl von Mueller

Finally, what happens to your ability and/or right to metal detect five years down the road will certainly affect you a helluva lot more than me, so I would urge you to stay classy and be cautious at the same time.


 *Joe Attinello passed away in 2013 but I will never forget  him. He taught me a lot….mostly how to laugh, have fun and how  not to take life too seriously. RIP Joe…. 



In my efforts to keep my everyone updated on all the latest and most important information out there I offer up the following.  I urge you to remember what is presented here and file it away in case you are faced with dire survival situations….

Five Ways to Open a Wine Bottle Without a Corkscrew



The Portable Antiquities Scheme – A Guide for Researchers

This guide has been produced as part of the Leverhulme Trust funded project ‘The Portable Antiquities Scheme as a tool for archaeological research’. It builds upon a thesis funded by the University of Southampton and the ‘Arts and Humanities Research Council’

Dr Katherine Robbins/August 2014

1. The data collected by the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) has the potential to revolutionise the way in which we research our past, by providing us with a vast online collection of data which can be used to examine a wide range of archaeological artefacts……


2. As it grows in size, the PAS database (PASD) is increasingly being used by those researching the archaeology of England and Wales, and its data are known to be incorporated into hundreds of projects (see http://finds.org.uk/research) including undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations, PhD theses, conference papers, and large-scale research projects….


3.The distribution of PAS data is therefore subject to chance and the decisions of the amateur collector – there is no obligation for them to sample in any particular way, nor a need for a strategy that ensures systematic coverage. Amateurs can search wherever they wish, however often they wish and in whatever form they wish, focusing on a particular area if it is productive, or moving quickly on if not. Understanding these collectors, and how their experiences, knowledge and interests affect collection, is therefore an important part of understanding the PAS dataset…


4.With over 90% of artefacts attributed to metal detectorists, it is the process of metal detecting and the relationship between metal detectorists and archaeologists that has principally affected the development of the PASD – a summary of the main events is given here, along with an outline of developments since the 1960s….


5.The relationship between the metal detecting community and the archaeologists has changed so much since the 1980s, that in 2008, a review of the PAS confidently stated that, the “PAS has overcome the scepticism of archaeologists and the mistrust of finders to create a partnership in the understanding of the past”.


6.Whilst this may be the case, it is important to acknowledge that there are still some archaeologists who believe that metal detecting should not be condoned and that the PAS is “too indulgent towards the metal detectorists”. Many are also concerned about the number of finds going unrecorded – there are indeed many metal detector users who are not interested in reporting their finds to archaeologists, resulting in thousands of archaeological artefacts being sold or lost to private collections each year, even with the most conservative estimates – these metal detector users are acting quite legally, but just choosing not to volunteer their non-Treasure finds to the PAS for recording…..


All of which proves two salient points:-

a. That metal detecting provides a solid and dependable foundation for archaeological research.

b. That the Guide puts meat on the bones of the claim in my previous post where I wrote: “The precise number of similar projects based on the Barford/Swift AEC database is unknown.”

Thanks to the Guide, that number is …NIL!

So long as finds are voluntarily recorded with the PAS database then detectorists have complied and are free to sell, collect, or dispose of the find as they so wish, and with the added benefit of a PAS record that proves both legitimacy of ownership and provenance. Any historical finds that I have made while searching beaches, have been logged with the PAS and offered to the relevant museum.

To get your free copy of the Guide go to: A Guide for Researchers



I found this tidbit on Janner53’s Metal Detecting Blog and wanted to share it here…. great PR and pretty much sums up who we are, despite the jerk in Warsaw.

Detectorists, From Outcasts to Valued Assets


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