Q & A w/Rob Rizzo, the History Digger


If the name Rob Rizzo doesn’t ring a bell perhaps The History Digger will. It’s Rob’s YouTube Page and it’s a good one.  Hope you enjoy his story and thanks Rob for taking the time to share it here…

THE Q & A

Q. Rob, if you don’t mind tell us a little about yourself, i.e., age, where you’re from, where you live, are you married, kids, etc..

A. I currently reside in Oconomowoc,Wisconsin (pronounced “Oh-con-oh-mo-walk”) but grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. I am 59 years-old, retired and have been married for 38 years and have been blessed with four children and six grandchildren. 

With my wife Amy and a sampling of the Rizzo gang

 

Q. Does anyone else in the family detect?

A. Yes! I have had the opportunity to detect with three of my four children (the fourth promises to join me this year) and one of my grandsons! A few of them have also made “guest appearances” in a my YouTube videos.

My grandson found a silver ring!

 

Q. When exactly did you start detecting and what was it that got you interested?

A. (This is what I shared with Chris Altman for his “Profiles Book”. I was one of 50 detectorists that had the honor of telling their story)

How did I get started in metal detecting? I’m often asked this by family members, fellow detectorists and viewers of The History Digger YouTube channel. The spark that ignited my passion for the hobby dates back to the late 1960’s when I was 6 years old. At that time my Grandmother, Marie Rizzo, operated an antique store on the first floor of her home called “The Richland Thrift Shop.”

She was always willing to let her grandchildren explore the shop’s many curiosities. Scattered throughout were vintage watches, beautiful glassware, old dolls, antique cars, silver coins and many other mysterious treasures. When asked about an item she would happily unlock some its mystery with an interesting story or fact that would somehow make the artifact come to life. Grandma Rizzo was not only an entrepreneur; she was a storyteller!

During this same time, many people also had an interest in science fiction and more specifically time travel. We watched 60s TV shows like “Time Tunnel”, “You Are There” or H.G. Wells production of “The Time Machine”. So not surprisingly, I also became interested in time travel and how it could transport one to a historic past or to an unknown future.

Metal detecting seems to connect some of my early childhood experiences and passions together. The ability to rediscover a lost item from the past, return the item to the present and preserve its story in a video for others to enjoy are some of the things that make the hobby great.

I actually talked about this in a recent video, “This Is Why I Metal Detect” (see below). I recently detected a beautiful, French inspired1850’s mansion once owned by a family that manufactured the famous “Schuttler Wagon”. The wagon was a prominent fixture as the population of the United States ventured west. This architectural gem was the beloved summer home of the Schuttler family and their many prominent guests. The owner referred to the home as “Mon Bijou” which in French means “My Jewel”.

Researching the history of the Schuttler family and their wagon’s role in our nation’s past was itself a rewarding experience. However, my greatest joy during this metal detecting adventure was rediscovering a STUNNING ladies’ watch fob that would have otherwise been lost to history. I happily presented the watch fob which I dubbed, “Mon Bijou” to the proprietor of what is now a Bed and Breakfast to display and share with future guests.

Rediscovering old finds and preserving their stories for others to enjoy (including my own children and grandchildren) is what makes this hobby so special. To me, metal detecting is the closest thing to time traveling that I’ll ever experience.

 

Q. Rob what was your first detector and what made you purchase that particular brand/model?

A. My kids gifted me my first metal detector which was a Bounty Hunter IV. It worked but I quickly realized that I wanted a better, more capable machine.

My first find with the bounty hunter. A Lincoln penny with my youngest daughter’s birth year!

 

Q. In the beginning where did you concentrate your time? What sort of sites did you search?

A. I started out like most people hunting parks and local beaches. I was careful to learn and follow the proper etiquette of only digging in hand tools when in parks. Soon after I worked up the courage to secure my first permission on private property.

 

Q. A memory test now. What was your very first signal/find? Do you by chance remember?

A.(See above)

 

Q. Okay Rob what was your first good or decent find, as in keeper.

A. My very first “good find” was an Indian Head penny that I found on a local beach. I discovered it with my Simplex. I was over the moon excited to find such a beautiful piece of history! It also served to put some wind in my metal detecting sails. I thought… “oh my gosh…you really can find old things with metal detectors!”

 

Q. Another memory test….how long did it take you to find your first silver coin and what was it?

A. It took a little over a year for me to find my first silver. It was a very toasty mercury dime that I found on a local beach with what was then, my new Minelab Equinox 800. I know that beach had been detected by others many times before yet there she was…underneath an old, wooden lifeguard chair just waiting to once again see the light of day!

 

Q. How long Rob did it take you to find your first ring and what type of ring was it?

A. My first ring was actually silver and was the same one I mentioned above that I found with my grandson. About a year later I found my first gold ring, two actually, while detecting in the waters off of Cancun Mexico.

Not my FIRST ring but a nice Irish Claddagh silver ring…

 

Q. In the beginning did you spend a lot of time researching and if so just how did you go about it?

A. I have a video on how I research and secure permissions using what I call “permission packets”. This was of course during COVID so door knocking was frowned upon at the time. I used Zillow and other real estate apps to target old properties that had recently sold. I then used county GIS systems to obtain the owners name or actual mailing address (sometimes its different than the property address). And of course I would search for nearby parks, scout camps, beaches, schools, fairgrounds, etc.

 

Q. What would you consider to be your very best find after all this time, and if it’s hard to choose just one tell us about all of them.

A. My two best or favorite finds thus far have been a 1721 cut silver reale and a 1604 gold hammered James the 1st coin. The first was found during a North Carolina Digstock event, the latter was found this past October while on a metal detecting trip to Colchester, UK. These were both so incredible. I’d love for you to see the actual finds on my videos below. I never thought either one of these would be within my reach but it goes to show you that with the right amount of time, research practice and most importantly, perseverance…there are still great treasures waiting to be discovered!

 

1604 gold hammered James the 1st coin

 

Q. Okay what is your weirdest find to date? Everybody pretty much has at least one….

A. Ok so I’m detecting in a local park and I find what I think is a silver cross. I get it out of the hole. Clean it off a bit only to discover that it was a satanic cross. I threw that thing in the trash can as fast as I could!

 

Q. What is your “OLDEST” find to date?

A. I also found a medieval buckle and some bale seals on my UK detecting trip. Hard to date but likely older than my 1604 gold coin.

 

Q. Rob what detector are you using at the moment and why?

A. My go to detector is currently the XP Deus ll. It is not only the lightest machine on the market but it is also wireless and has incredibly fast separation.

My detector of choice at the moment

 

Q. Surely you have a backup detector. What is it?

A. I have a Minelab Equinox 800 that is my backup however I also have a Minelab Manticore on order!

 

Q. Rob can you offer a few tips or settings/programs?

A. Two things that are not detector specific are 1. Maximize Your Location – Either go where there is a lot of traffic or try to detect on older, historical property. 2. Swing the Detector Properly – To some degree, metal detecting is a math exercise. The more you properly place your coil over potential targets…the greater chance you have of finding things. Avoid swinging the detector in an arc. Stay low to the ground and maintain a flat swing.

Also make sure that if/when you are ground balancing you are doing so over clean ground, areas where there are no signals. Beyond that try to maximize sensitivity as far as the ground will allow and if the detector enables, pick the right level of reactivity/recovery speed for the terrain. Higher in parks, lower in more quiet fields. Practice and join forums, read you manual and learn your specific detector. Finally…build and use your own test garden to become a master of your detector and to understand the specific tones and nuances.

 

Q. When you do go detecting what “must have” accessories do you take along?

A. I have a diggers cloth, a hori hori knife (shovel in some cases), Omega Mill Finders pouch, cleaning brush and spray bottle. I also take some hobby cards with me and keep a few of my “permission packets” in my car to take advantage of potential opportunities.

Omega Mill pouch

 

Q. Do you prefer hunting with others or are you a loner?

A. I enjoy a mix of both.

Always fun digging with friends…here with Robert Frank and Dillon Wallendal

 

Q. Okay Rob everybody has a bucket list. Tell us about yours?

A. I would very much love to find a Morgan Silver dollar. I love this coin and it along with maybe a 1903 US Indian Head gold coin are now my two bucket lister items….oh and maybe a Roman ring!!!

 

Q. Have you detected overseas?

A. I’ve detected thus far in Mexico, Canada and the UK. I have plans to also detect in Scotland in 2024!

And you never know who you might run into….

 

Q. Rob do you belong to a club and if so tell us a little about it?

A. I belong to the Milwaukee Metal Detecting club. They are a a great group of folks. They meet every month or so to share finds, give away some prizes and to generally offer some encouragement and advice.

 

Q. Rob do you have any other hobbies or interests?

A. I also enjoy rock painting, canoeing, fishing and doing genealogy research. Also now that I’m retired we also do some RV’ing.

Other things I enjoy

 

Q. If you could design one what would your IDEAL detector look like?

A. I love everything about my Deus ll however I would actually prefer that it have a bigger screen with a more friendly user interface.

 

Q. Finally Rob, if you could pass along one or two words of advice to beginning detectorists or for that matter any detectorist, what would they be?

A. Think about why you would want to pursue the hobby and what it is you want to gain. For some it might be about making money, for others it is the thrill of the hunt or the idea of preserving history. Your reason may not be the same as others but its important to first identify and think through why you want to invest time in something like this. Beyond that I think you need to realize that like most other hobbies and sports, you will need to make a bit of an investment in both time and equipment. Very few individuals buy a set of golf clubs and immediately become a Tiger Woods. Practice and perseverance are key ingredients.

Also, think about joining a club or meeting up with others to both enjoy the camaraderie but also to share the learning. Lastly, consider if a YouTube channel, or Instagram Site might be right for what your trying to do. These are not only creative outlets but can also be mediums through which you can share your finds, tell stories and even build some credibility that might help secure future permissions. Meanwhile, good luck and happy digging….

Get out there and enjoy your day. Theres treasure to be found!

 ________________________


******

11 Comments

Filed under Metal Detecting

11 responses to “Q & A w/Rob Rizzo, the History Digger

  1. john taylor

    wow! he must be well off to be able to retire at that age! good on him!

    (h.h.!)
    j.t.

  2. john taylor

    ehe! he! heh! my god! time for a taste!

    (h.h.!)
    j.t.

  3. …And Rob catches bass too. Nice interview!

  4. john taylor

    me too! tons of hunting “value” in that interview! hope the newbies caught some of that! ..just sayin’

    p.s. just got a “sad” e-mail..w&e is gone! (w.t.f!) “whouda thunk!” nobody wanted to admit it, but an inevitable event!

    (h.h.!)
    j.t.

    • Mail read –

      “With pride and gratitude we announce that, after 57 years, Western & Eastern Treasures magazine ceased publication with the December, 2022 issue.

      Over the last few years, I have happily observed the detecting industry begin to reach a much larger audience. This is primarily due to the popularity of online short and long form videos. Their creators can share finds and experiences almost instantaneously. As encouraging as that is, it was time to come to terms with the fact that the medium in which we delivered our content (magazines both print and digital) belongs to a shrinking market.

      It has been an honor to assume the role of Managing Editor of Western & Eastern Treasures. My grandfather, Houston (Dick) Burdette, was the original publisher. My mother Rosemary Anderson and father, Steve Anderson, deserve more praise than I can articulate here. Without both, Western & Eastern Treasures would not have become the respected and popular publication we all know today.

      To our dozens of advertisers, hundreds of contributors and, most of all, our thousands upon thousands of readers I say – Thank You.”

      Sincerely,

      Logan Anderson
      Managing Editor
      Western & Eastern Treasures

  5. john taylor

    sad here! got myself a whole library of w&e!..have to admit readinig it on line was a”bummer”as I always preferred the mag format! best of all of them was, in my view, “treasure found!” crackerjack magazine! nuthin’ but found stuff! w&e WILL be missed by lots of guys! world is a different place these days, and quality publications are mostly gone now! friggin’ shame it is by golly! as mentioned, got tons of ’em to review for a long as I want! some great articles over the years….just sayin’

    (h.h.!)
    j.t.

  6. Tragic! But I fear it’s a sign of the times. W&ET was the leader of its day and I’m desperately sorry to see its demise. Nevertheless, my hearty thanks and appreciation to the editorial team for providing such a superb magazine.

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