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Thread: Detecting a nice old house site: coins, pewter, bottles, and some great culture!

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  1. #1
    Oct 2014
    Southern Ontario
    Garrett Euro Ace 350
    1397 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Banner Finds (1)

    Detecting a nice old house site: coins, pewter, bottles, and some great culture!

    Hey Everyone,

    Season's greetings!

    Some beautiful houses have been coming down around here lately. Jaw-dropping oldies, barns and everything, and this topsoil company is even trucking in extra dirt to put on top of everything, so overkill. Gone forever. Buyouts, suburban sprawl, etc. - I'm sure a lot of you know how it is. And for some reason I've been met with a lot of bitterness lately when seeking new permissions. It's weird, I don't know if it's the time of year or what - you'd think it'd be the other way around, right? If I had a nickel for every time I heard the word "liability" in the last few weeks. It's like everyone thinks the house is suddenly going to sprout legs and jump on top of you when you're detecting the yards and fields around it! People are increasingly unreasonable these days. I want us to trust each other again. Anyway, sorry, enough of that. I guess I've been a bit grumpy myself lately! It certainly can be a stressful time of year. Yes/no, Santa/Scrooge, whatever. Let's get on with it:

    Well, let's just say I got cheered right back up! I got a chance to do a nice old one. It's just a shell now. Rodent hotel. Windows all smashed, eavestroughs slacking, aluminum siding coming off (reveals the nice old red brick though, gorgeous). On the old map it looks like quite a few people had lived there, and I do know that the place had been occupied up until around two or three years ago - you know what that means! ALUMINATI. Another downside was that most of the area was almost unsearchable. You'd need a gas powered auger or even a backhoe to get through the tightly packed gravel. I had my work cut out for me, that's for sure.

    So where do I start? Well, first I tried probing the more penetrable parts of the yard for a privy, but got no result (where's jgas when you need him?). Deterred but not defeated, I broke out the ol' Euro Ace 350 and secured the coil with elastics and electrical tape like I always do, and by then I was feeling like a real pro, haha! "Ain't broken, don't fix it". I got to swinging and got exactly what I had ordered - enough aluminum for the next mission to the moon. Almost as bad as the gravel was the long matted down grass. I bet some veteran quilt making grandma would kill in cold blood to learn that weave. I was stomping and chopping and chomping on trail mix to build up my strength again.

    My first good find was an 1892 silver 'fish scale' (Canadian nickel) on the one side of the house near the covered well. I didn't get an in situ photo like I would have liked to, but I was relieved to find something decent and excited to get some more. I went on to find my first American large cent on the edge of the driveway, 1851, love it, always wanted one of these and she's a beauty. I found a gilt flat button, a tiny pewter silver plated rosette (other pewter included a spoon handle and a broken pewter silver plated ring with pheasants or some kind of bird around it), and the outside half of a two piece button that I need your help with! It's got 13 stars, a cannon, maybe a compass, and some water underneath. I think it might be American, but I'm not sure. If you look at the picture of these 5 objects you can take a closer look. Thank you!

    One thing I did differently this time was focus on culture. Since I was finding so much aluminum, I chose to dig a lot more of the iron signals (within reason), and I am very happy with the result. I think I got the whole darn tool shed! An awesome variety of axe heads, a horse bit, plenty of beefy iron rings, a coat/hat hook, a bunch of latches, some nice square nails, a big staple of some sort, and a bunch of iron things that I've never even seen before! I made the best of a frustrating situation and I'm proud of myself for that. Anyone know what the things on the bottom right are? Are they plow related? I had to make more than one trip to get this stuff home because it was so heavy. I also treated the iron finds with some unscented baby oil for the first time. I don't have an electrolysis setup, can't afford/justify renaissance wax, and, it's not like these are George Washington's square nails. I think they look pretty good! I'm happy with how they turned out.

    While digging a signal, can't remember what it was, I had what looked like a big marble come up. Turns out it's the most beautiful knob I've ever seen in my life (crack your joke, get it over with). But look at this thing! All cobalt glazed and painted by hand with...gold? I don't know, but it's old and it is absolutely lovely!

    Another chance encounter, and this was definitely the highlight for me, was my stumbling upon an old shallow trash pit. I went from already being elated to being catapulted into treasure hunting bliss. This hobby is so much about hard work and research and all of that, but you can't help but feel the power of that one sweet secret ingredient thing. Luck, chance, whatever you call it - when you aren't expecting anything at all and then suddenly you're living your wildest dream! A bullseye in the dark! While digging a signal at the side of the driveway (pretty much ON the driveway), I felt a very familiar feeling. It was glass. I clear out maybe 6 inches of dirt, nice and wide, and I'm suddenly finding ash and burnt material, and then the heel of the old black glass bottle that I had struck with my shovel. It was broken (not by me), but then there were other bottles that were whole! First I found this old clear slick, good age. Then I found this aaawesome cornflower blue vial (this was not a colour that I had dug yet, so I was pumped. I also found a similar aqua blue vial but it's damaged and isn't cleaning up very nicely). And then..."IS THAT WHAT I THINK IT IS? There's no way this thing is whole". It was whole. "From the Laboratory of G.W. Merchant, Chemist, Lockport N.Y." Early smooth base, key mould, applied finish. I've read different things about these bottles, and that the smooth bases were possibly made around the same time as their pontiled friends, but either way I'd date this bottle from anywhere between 1860 and 1875. This thing is absolutely perfect. It's like a 98/100. And so clean. It's a pretty collectible and sought-after bottle. It's not my holy grail or anything, but I certainly never thought I'd hold something like this in my hand. And it survived all that time, only inches under a hard, heavily used gravel driveway. One of my best finds ever!!! In the same pit I found my first stoneware ink (here it is after I wiped it off, at the depth I found it), and an interesting broken key that's copper or brass with like, a lead or pewter thumb, very interesting. I ended up finding what might be an old septic tank underneath. The ash and glass stopped, I hit natural dirt, and then I hit a bunch of gravel, dug about a foot through it, and then decided to close her up because it was getting dark. I still might have another go at it. You get thirsty after a pit like that - imagine what the privy will be like if I can find it! Anyway, I drew a little MS Paint illustration of the pit for you, for educational purposes - nah, it was for me, it was for fun, haha!

    Anyway, I found so many other doodads and whatnots, so many firsts, and I just had such a great time. One of my most memorable hunts, no doubt. It was a big cake with plenty of icing. The only object in the group shot not from this hunt is the Native American celt at the top right, which I included because I haven't shown anyone outside of that forum yet, and I wanted to share it again.

    Thanks for coming along! Good luck and happy hunting,


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  2. #2
    Charter Member
    Oct 2014
    Garrett: AT Pro, AT Gold & Infinium; Minelab: Explorer SE, II, Quattro & X-terra 705; Tesoro: Tejon & Outlaw; White's: V3i & DFX
    16264 times
    Relic Hunting
    Banner Finds (2)
    Nice finds!
    NJKLAGT likes this.



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