My Best Find…

When I checked my email this morning I found this from my friend Andy Baines (Andy’s Treasure Hunting Cafe)….

Ey up Dick,

Hope your well? I was reading your blog earlier and a thought popped in my head about what your best find would be in all the years you have been detecting and the story behind it. Not sure if you have already blogged about it in the past but if you haven’t I would love to read about it! Anyway it was just a random thought haha.



I told Andy that I had indeed shared this before, and would try to find it and share it again. After a lot of looking on the old website I found it in early 2013 (which was a rerun from 2010). So here goes once again….


I still get an email or two asking what my best find(s) are, and the following is a repeat of a post I made here three years ago….

Willing to bet that almost every treasure hunter/detectorist has been asked “what is the best thing you’ve ever found”, or “what is the most valuable thing you’ve found?” Also willing to bet that a good majority of you responded with something like “a lot of good friends and acquaintances”. Am I right? Well, that’s not a bad answer at all, and for a lot of reasons…..

First of all because it’s true.

This pastime has a knack for bringing like-minded people together in a big way. There’s a need to learn more from others, a need for partnering in the field, and a great need to band together to ensure our pastime is not legislated out of existence. I think we all know as well that no one else would understand what the hell we are talking about when we mumble things like VDI, mixed mode, RX gain, modulation, ground balance and hot rocks.

Secondly, using the good friends response allows you to not make public what is no one else’s business. Blabbing about your finds can get you into trouble in more ways than one. Not because you found them illegally but because sharing this information leads to further questions like where did you find it, how much is it worth, what did you do with it, and on and on. Information that could be passed on to others, and information that could result in theft, or worse.

I know a couple of treasure hunting friends who have found items that are worth a tidy sum and I appreciate their need for secrecy.  There were found through a lot of hard work, a great deal of research and they were found legally. They are also entitled to sell or dispose of them any way they see fit.

When I look back on all my years of detecting a great many items I dug were my “best” at the time, and as far as value goes, it’s difficult to put a price on them. Follow along and I think you will understand what I am saying….

When it comes to coins nothing can replace the first coin you found when you first started out. I remember mine, and I am sure you remember yours. Didn’t matter if it was a penny, dime or quarter.  It was a coin damn it, and validated your investment in a metal detector (No matter what your wife said). Believe it or not my first coin was a silver Washington quarter……

Next of course nothing can replace the first silver coin you find, especially if it followed nothing but clad, and mounds of trash (that shimmer of silver in the hole still makes my day, even after almost 40 years).

Nothing beats silver in the hole.....

Nothing beats the glint of silver in the hole…..

Next, was my first Barber, my first Seated, my first Bust coin, and I still remember my first Large cent, even though the date was unreadable. At THAT time ALL these were my “best” finds. Today if you try to pin me down, and ask me to name my very best find? It’s the one I am going to dig next time out….

I remember finding that first good ring? It was a small 14k child’s ring, and I found it at a rural school near my house in New Jersey. Over the years I found many rings, some good, some very good, and a few very, very good . Do I still have them? Yes, and I will more than likely pass them on to my grandkids, although they are there for that rainy day should I need them.

1796 "Liherty" error Large Cent.....

A favorite find of mine was this 1796 “Liherty” error Large Cent which I later sold for $950.

Interestingly enough some of the oldest finds I have are not the most valuable. I have ancient coins from the UK and France, a few of which are supposedly from around the birth of Christ, but their monetary value is not necessarily great because they are not all that rare.

Once while hunting near the North Sea I had a Brit TH’er tell me that the coins I had in my pouch from the 1600’s were rubbish, and you know what? He was right. Hardly worth anything. It didn’t matter however. Finding a Roman coin, or relic from hundreds of years ago will always be on my list of better finds. Just thinking about who last touched it, and what life must have been like in 300AD, makes it extra special.

One very special find was a gold locket and chain found in a picnic grove in rural New Jersey. The photo inside was still recognizable. It was of an older lady and there were three initials on the back side of the locket door. I have always wanted to somehow return it to her family, her descendants, but I could not find a way to do that. I still have it, and look at it from time to time….

So there you go….a few of my best finds, and a few of my most memorable. Not what you were hoping for I am sure, and nothing earth shattering, but they were and are very important to me because they all came with a story. One that I will never forget, and oh yeah, the people I met along the way? By far more valuable and they didn’t even beep.





Filed under Metal Detecting

18 responses to “My Best Find…

  1. Ben

    That was a really nice answer. It’s really neat to look, through finds from years past and remember where you found them and what was going on in your life at that time. It’s what makes this hobby so rewarding.

  2. My best finds I sold simply because there is no money in looking after my father. Yes I’ve dug hammered gold coins and milled ones . My favourite things to dig however are good condition Roman bronzes that maybe worth little . I just like the images on them and the fact they survive so well but only on certain sites . The people too by far out shine any metal .

  3. Nice response Dick and your response is along the same lines as I would have probably answered.
    For me personally monetary value doesn’t come into what makes a good find although it is nice haha. I think my favourite find or one of my most memorable finds is a medieval casket key I found a year or so ago, worth penny’s but a very personal find and quite thought provoking.
    Thanks for the blog post Dick.


    • Andy I could have mentioned a few semi-key coins I found, or this AU find, etc., but for the most part I just found a helluva lot “nice” coins in my 40 years. I was privileged to began my adventure at the right time and I am grateful for that.

  4. Randy Dee

    Well put Dick about the best finds being friends, I have many friends but not many of them are outside of the metal detecting circle.
    I have found many valuable coins and artifacts including Roman Gold and Silver coins but none of them are worth anywhere near the great friendship value of my detecting pals, my greatest loss was the passing away of three of my detecting pals in a very short time of each other.

    • Randy I too have lost a few detecting pals over the past two or three years, and while I suppose it’s to be expected as you get along in years, it is still hard. Thanks for taking the time to share

      • Your best find was that guy – who must remain anonymous – who willingly loaned, yes, loaned you, 20 Bucks in a bar AC in 1986 because you said you had nothing smaller that a ‘century note’ and that it was a criminal offence to offer a note of that size. Just though I’d mention it.

      • Have no idea who you are talking about “fartface”…

  5. James M. Fielding

    Hi, Dick…another interesting subject. I too have had folks ask me the same thing…WTBTYF? And, yes, as we all do, I go on about my best coin, artifact, friendships or whatever. But on the private side, I once found a tiny 1″ by 1″ thin-metal tintype about 5″ deep in the middle of deep woods, where you would not expect much of anything of that sort to be. It was in reasonably good shape , and a man, in a style obviously from the mid-19th Century, stares solemnly out of his little frozen moment in time. Who he was, or anything else about him, lost forever. But I still have it…I just could not leave it in the dirt. I cleaned it in my ultrasonic cleaner, digitally scanned it, then enlarged it in Photoshop to see if I could find some, any, identifying mark with no success. I love artifacts for exactly the same reason you spoke of; the physical connection with our people, most of them nameless, long lost ages and ages ago, with their mysterious lives, friendships and society, leaving scant personal items behind, also lost, some of which we are privileged to find and marvel at.

    My wife, who was an avid gardener when we met a decade ago, and followed me about as I researched items, dug holes, explained the metal detector’s operation, decided she would like to try it herself. I think she was getting bored as she watched me wander about with headphones on, dig holes and mumble to myself while examining whatever I dug up. Over the last 6 or 7 years she has become very proficient herself in operating her machine, and also joined our local metal detecting club, since I was a member already, of The Central Florida Metal Detecting Club. As a result she has been exposed to all the range of things our service club does, from helping several branches of our local police in criminal evidence recovery, to assisting the NAVY in finding an ID plate off a crashed WWII bomber in the middle of a Florida swamp.

    My wife and I are both part of the “CFMDC Search Team” and have been called out numerous times on missions even more important than locating crashed aircraft ID tags, or putting a criminal in jail. And that would be finding lost wedding rings, heirloom items, and other very personal, sentimental symbols of people’s ever-enduring undying love, associations or friendships. After you do a certain amount of these recovery projects, you start to gain an understanding of how deeply hurt folks can be, simply losing a small piece of metal, with massive emotional significance attached; lose the ring, you’ve lost your only physical tie left to a long-passed grandparent, parent, sibling, child or friend.

    During the last few years, my wife and I have been somewhat successful in reuniting these tokens of love and remembrance with their owners. By the time we get to the site, usually weeks after the item was lost, you can see the defeat in their eyes as they talk…head-down, eyes unfocused about where that ring or necklace or watch might be. I let my wife do the interview, as women (with the exception of my two-ex wives) are usually very emphatic, sympathetic and understanding, As a result, we usually recover the item within two minutes to two hours depending on…well everything. So, the long answer to the short question of “What’s the best thing you’ve ever found?” It is, without doubt, the absolute, unmitigated, joy that radiates from a person that had no hope of ever seeing their link to the past again, when your magic machine hits it’s mark. Their smile ain’t bad either!

    • “After you do a certain amount of these recovery projects, you start to gain an understanding of how deeply hurt folks can be, simply losing a small piece of metal, with massive emotional significance attached; lose the ring, you’ve lost your only physical tie left to a long-passed grandparent, parent, sibling, child or friend”….

      “It is, without doubt, the absolute, unmitigated, joy that radiates from a person that had no hope of ever seeing their link to the past again, when your magic machine hits it’s mark. Their smile ain’t bad either!”…..

      Wow….love it James. You couldn’t have said it any better… thank you so very much.

  6. Coin25

    As they say in Hip Hop “You can’t touch that”….

  7. Coin25

    You are, I heard you have taken up painting……

  8. Coin25

    What was your first model? A 1916 Standing Liberty quarter with an exposed upper area?

  9. Tony my first detector was a Coinmaster, with the real large box and only metal/mineral controls. Not sure what you mean with the 1916 SL?

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