Mystery House Journal

robertk

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Just about the time I got my new Deus II, I was looking at an old map of my neighborhood and discovered that in 1940, there was a house sitting in what is now my front yard. This surprised me greatly, so I started hunting old photos and found a 1955 aerial photo, with no trace of the house. So it was there sometime before 1940 to get "on the map", but was completely vanished by 1955.

So I worked out the distances from the old map and got a good guess to where the house was, and started hunting. I quickly discovered that my entire front yard is littered with iron.

I don't know when the house was built, but I'm assuming mid to late 1800's. So far I haven't found anything with a date on it, but what little I have found seems to back up those dates.

So I'm starting this thread to post interesting things, mostly for feedback as I try to understand the history of those who were here before I was. Here's some of the stuff I've found so far. Any comments on what they are, or what they are used for, are welcome.

This was identified (thanks to this board!) as a suspender adjuster, pre-1920.
suspender_clip_front.JPG suspender_clip_back.JPG

And this one is part of a victorian bed rail attachment.
bed_rail_hardware.JPG

This one is a spoon, obviously. Silver plated, well worn. I haven't found an exact match on the pattern and I can't quite read the maker's mark, but the stuff I find that's close is in the early 1880's. Interestingly, I found this standing vertically in the ground, big end down. It took some digging to extract it.

spoon.JPG spoon_front_close.JPG spoon_back_close.JPG spoon_stamp.JPG

I've also found a few shotgun shell end caps. At first I ignored these thinking they were just trash from a careless modern hunter, but after investigating, these are from around 1900 (Union Metal Cartridge Company, "New Club" style, produced between 1891 and 1911).
caps.jpg

And some iron stuff...

horseshoes.JPG bolts_nuts.JPG insulator_front.JPG insulator_back.JPG

I've found several of those square nuts. They look like they might be blacksmith-made because while the hole diameter is pretty consistent, the size and thickness of the nut itself varies quite a bit. And that thing that looks like a telegraph insulator is a mystery -- iron wouldn't make a very good insulator.

Then there's this partial plate -- quarter inch thick and heavy. Maybe a stove part?
round_plate_front.JPG round_plate_back.JPG


And then there's this thing.
massive.JPG
It's about 8" diameter, about an inch thick, with a 1/4" "rim" around one side, totally flat on the other. And it's heavy -- weighing exactly 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs) in its current state. No obvious handle or anything to indicate use.

So there's what I know so far. I will post more as I discover it...
 

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pepperj

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I managed to get a little hunt in today. Didn't find anything particularly interesting, with one tiny exception. Here's the day's haul:

View attachment 2121626
There's a cultivator tooth, a piece of a horseshoe that looks like it may have been repurposed, a couple of railroad spikes or fireplace grate arms, a piece of a stove door, a few square nails (dug just to confirm that's what they were). a large spoon, a strange hooked thing, some other misc bits, and a pull tab (modern, found near the road). Many of these things were found over in the grove of small trees, where I had previously not found anything. So that's interesting in itself. Easier to hunt in there now that the vegetation has died back.

The only two unusual/interesting things are a blob of what I presume to be lead, with a completely white patina. That's the way civil war era bullets look coming out of the ground around here, but this seems small. It's 8 grams, so about 125 grains. Perhaps a fired/smashed .32 calibre pistol bullet?

Then the other thing is a tiny black "spool". Possibly a button or cufflink or something along that line? I'm not sure what metal it is. The target ID was in the low 60's, which is where I'd expect brass to show up, but this doesn't really look like brass. It's black, and brass typically tarnishes red here.

Anyway, here it is with a penny for size reference, and the piece of lead. I'll post it in the "what is it" forum as well. Maybe someone knows what it's for.
View attachment 2121627
View attachment 2121630 View attachment 2121629 View attachment 2121628
Pack rivet/leather rivet
1800's so there's good stuff below.
 

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robertk

robertk

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It has been quite cold and wet lately, on top of being quite busy. Then over the last couple of days we got our first snow of the season. But the ground isn't frozen and the coil is waterproof, so I decided to go out and dig a little today. Only had about an hour, and didn't find anything super amazing, but still fun as always. I did find a couple of puzzlers, but I'll get to that in a minute. Here's the overall "stuff":
IMG_3399.jpeg
A square nut that I haven't cleaned out, a bolt or pin with an odd oval head (shaped like a peach pit), a buckle, a couple of square nails that were in the hole with other things, a couple of pieces of melted metal, probably lead, a fired bullet, a shot shell head stamp, a brass cap thing, and a gear or some sort.

The gear was the disappointment of the day. It rang up a solid and repeatable 90 in every direction on the Deus II, and it read as completely non-ferrous. So when I popped the plug and saw a big arc of silver color, I was really hopeful for a coin. But it was not to be. It's a gear of some sort. But it's even more puzzling as a gear. It isn't magnetic, not even a little bit. And the silver color on both sides is a heavy plating or coating. The edges are not silver like that. I would have assumed iron but it isn't magnetic, so maybe brass? Could be copper I guess, but copper seems a poor choice to make a gear out of. Any thoughts or ideas on what it was part of?

IMG_3403.jpeg IMG_3404.jpeg

Then the other puzzler is the "cap" thing. It appears to be brass or copper, fairly thin. It is threaded in the center opening but the rest of it is smooth. It resembles the center ring in one of the old collapsible telescopes, but I don't think the center would be threaded for that. Shown with the 12GA shot shell head stamp for size reference. Any ideas what it was?

IMG_3405.jpeg IMG_3406.jpeg IMG_3407.jpeg IMG_3408.jpeg IMG_3409.jpeg

I might post those over on the What Is It forum too if nobody here knows what they were.

The shotshell head stamp was found away from the main search area, so probably not part of the original settlement. The date range also doesn't match either, because they made that head stamp starting in 1944. All the stuff I've found around the old house site has been much older than that (1880's to 1910 or so).
IMG_3402.jpeg
 

pepperj

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It has been quite cold and wet lately, on top of being quite busy. Then over the last couple of days we got our first snow of the season. But the ground isn't frozen and the coil is waterproof, so I decided to go out and dig a little today. Only had about an hour, and didn't find anything super amazing, but still fun as always. I did find a couple of puzzlers, but I'll get to that in a minute. Here's the overall "stuff":
View attachment 2122878
A square nut that I haven't cleaned out, a bolt or pin with an odd oval head (shaped like a peach pit), a buckle, a couple of square nails that were in the hole with other things, a couple of pieces of melted metal, probably lead, a fired bullet, a shot shell head stamp, a brass cap thing, and a gear or some sort.

The gear was the disappointment of the day. It rang up a solid and repeatable 90 in every direction on the Deus II, and it read as completely non-ferrous. So when I popped the plug and saw a big arc of silver color, I was really hopeful for a coin. But it was not to be. It's a gear of some sort. But it's even more puzzling as a gear. It isn't magnetic, not even a little bit. And the silver color on both sides is a heavy plating or coating. The edges are not silver like that. I would have assumed iron but it isn't magnetic, so maybe brass? Could be copper I guess, but copper seems a poor choice to make a gear out of. Any thoughts or ideas on what it was part of?

View attachment 2122880 View attachment 2122881

Then the other puzzler is the "cap" thing. It appears to be brass or copper, fairly thin. It is threaded in the center opening but the rest of it is smooth. It resembles the center ring in one of the old collapsible telescopes, but I don't think the center would be threaded for that. Shown with the 12GA shot shell head stamp for size reference. Any ideas what it was?

View attachment 2122882 View attachment 2122883 View attachment 2122884 View attachment 2122885 View attachment 2122886

I might post those over on the What Is It forum too if nobody here knows what they were.

The shotshell head stamp was found away from the main search area, so probably not part of the original settlement. The date range also doesn't match either, because they made that head stamp starting in 1944. All the stuff I've found around the old house site has been much older than that (1880's to 1910 or so).
View attachment 2122879

I saw the silver washed toothed wheel-then before I read your explanation I was thinking a Dremel cutting wheel.
Now I'm back to a clock part.
For the threaded brass thingy-:dontknow:
 

pepperj

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I forgot the size reference for the gear. It's the size of a silver dollar.
That's pretty big, so it would be for something else.
Clocks seem to have bigger teeth/cogs. Where as pocket watches have fine ones.
This one I dug the other day is 2 5/8" which is a big one.

20231229_154720.jpg
 

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robertk

robertk

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That's pretty big, so it would be for something else.
That's kinda what I was thinking too. My first thought was clock, but it seems awful big and heavy for that. Plus most clock/watch gears I've seen are "hollow" with spokes like the one in your photo. I tried an image search but that was fruitless -- it just showed me lots of photos of circular saw blades, which this definitely isn't.
 

pepperj

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That's kinda what I was thinking too. My first thought was clock, but it seems awful big and heavy for that. Plus most clock/watch gears I've seen are "hollow" with spokes like the one in your photo. I tried an image search but that was fruitless -- it just showed me lots of photos of circular saw blades, which this definitely isn't.
Silver washed brass-correct?
I wonder how many teeth are actually on it?
That might determine if it was for a timing device.
 

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robertk

robertk

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Yes, it appears to be silver-washed brass. (I have a silver test kit -- would that work to see if the silver color is actually silver, even if it's just a wash?)

I measured it just now -- exactly 2" diameter, with a 1/4" round center hole. It is 1/16" thick (0.0625") and weighs 25 grams. If I counted correctly, it has 80 teeth.
 

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robertk

robertk

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Well I still have no idea on the gear, but I figured out the brass thing. It's a collar for an oil lamp. Here is the one I found vs a new (modern) one for comparison. Mine is bent up and the photo is from a slightly different angle, but it's basically the same thing. None of the three lamp burners I've found have screw threads, though, so this is from a fourth lamp.

IMG_3416.jpeg Antique-Lamp-Parts.JPG
 

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robertk

robertk

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The weather was nice yesterday so I went out detecting for a couple of hours. Here's what I found this round (and some of the same stuff from last round that I haven't put away yet).

IMG_3431.jpeg
Another horse yoke piece, part of a horseshoe, a hinge, some more square nuts, a square-shafted bolt or pin, another spike, a pulley, some miscellaneous shards and nails, a twisted silvery something, and a button.

I first thought the pulley was a caster wheel, but the way it's made, it pretty much has to be a pulley.
IMG_3432.jpeg IMG_3433.jpeg

The twisted silvery thing appears to be brass with a silver plating. I'm guessing it was the top of a glass candle holder. I've found part of a candle holder, and if this thing were bent back into shape, it would be just about right to add a nice silver cap to it.
IMG_3434.jpeg

The most interesting find of the day is the button. It's pretty badly corroded, but the lettering is still readable. It's a "Noxall" button, by "I.L. & CO". I suppose it could be a snap, but I'm going with button because of the shape.
IMG_3436.jpeg IMG_3437.jpeg IMG_3438.jpeg

A little internet research found this to be a clothing button from the Noxall company, founded by Isaac Lesem in Quincy, Illinois. The company was founded in 1855 as a dry goods company, then later branching into clothing manufacturing. They built a large factory in 1890 employing several hundred people, and distributed nationwide. They had some cute advertising.

antique-trade-card-noxall-garments_1_a688800bd22a4bf2f70a52c502e0e813.jpg 1800s-noxall-advertising-trade-card_1_16d6459f47cfef940a1a0a0dbf544131-2.jpg antique-trade-card-noxall-garments_1_a688800bd22a4bf2f70a52c502e0e813-1.jpg

Their logo, the shield with the arm and hammer, was trademarked. I couldn't help noticing the similarity with the Arm & Hammer baking soda logo, but I don't think the companies are related.
antique-trade-card-noxall-garments_1_a688800bd22a4bf2f70a52c502e0e813-1.jpg Arm_&_Hammer_logo.svg.png

The clothing lines apparently had both dress clothing and "work wear" -- overalls and such. Given the other items I've found here, this could have been either one.
 

pepperj

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The weather was nice yesterday so I went out detecting for a couple of hours. Here's what I found this round (and some of the same stuff from last round that I haven't put away yet).

View attachment 2123871
Another horse yoke piece, part of a horseshoe, a hinge, some more square nuts, a square-shafted bolt or pin, another spike, a pulley, some miscellaneous shards and nails, a twisted silvery something, and a button.

I first thought the pulley was a caster wheel, but the way it's made, it pretty much has to be a pulley.
View attachment 2123877 View attachment 2123876

The twisted silvery thing appears to be brass with a silver plating. I'm guessing it was the top of a glass candle holder. I've found part of a candle holder, and if this thing were bent back into shape, it would be just about right to add a nice silver cap to it.
View attachment 2123875

The most interesting find of the day is the button. It's pretty badly corroded, but the lettering is still readable. It's a "Noxall" button, by "I.L. & CO". I suppose it could be a snap, but I'm going with button because of the shape.
View attachment 2123874 View attachment 2123873 View attachment 2123872

A little internet research found this to be a clothing button from the Noxall company, founded by Isaac Lesem in Quincy, Illinois. The company was founded in 1855 as a dry goods company, then later branching into clothing manufacturing. They built a large factory in 1890 employing several hundred people, and distributed nationwide. They had some cute advertising.

View attachment 2123881 View attachment 2123882 View attachment 2123880

Their logo, the shield with the arm and hammer, was trademarked. I couldn't help noticing the similarity with the Arm & Hammer baking soda logo, but I don't think the companies are related.
View attachment 2123880 View attachment 2123878

The clothing lines apparently had both dress clothing and "work wear" -- overalls and such. Given the other items I've found here, this could have been either one.
I would of thought a steel caster wheel for sure as well (I still thinking it is)
The silver washed thing could be the outer shell of a gramophone arm.
2nd thought is part of a kettle spout
Screen Shot 2024-01-03 at 6.52.19 AM.png
 

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robertk

robertk

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I would of thought a steel caster wheel for sure as well (I still thinking it is)
It really does seem like it should be one, but I think it’s a pulley. The way it would have to be mounted for the wheel to be on the ground with that guard on one side doesn’t make sense. Plus the edges of the wheel really look like a pulley. Here’s a side shot of it.
IMG_2024-01-03-092731.jpeg
 

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robertk

robertk

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An update:

Over the last few days, I've got out in the cold and found a few things. For one, I think I found the well. Still not 100% sure, but really don't know what else it could be. It's about ten feet from where I found the smashed well bucket, and the pipe is just about an inch wider than the bucket, so it would have fit nicely.

IMG_3444.jpeg IMG_3445.jpeg

Then I found the usual square nuts, bolts, horseshoes, and cast iron stove parts (another burner cover and another burner separator), and a few lead bullets.

Today I found a couple of more interesting items though. The first I don't know what it is, so I posted it over on the what is it forum. I'm guessing something musical? But I don't know. (Edit: It's a harmonica reed! I've found the reed plate before but had never seen one with the reeds attached.)
IMG_3468.jpeg IMG_3469.jpeg IMG_3470.jpeg

Then there's this guy. I'm not sure what it is, but to me it really looks like the back of a pocket watch. The inside is toast, just a mass of metal and corrosion. But it doesn't react to a magnet at all (not even a little bit), and the shape and contours just really seem like a watch to me. If anyone knows for sure, or better yet, can recognize the pattern, please enlighten me.

IMG_3472.jpeg IMG_3464.jpeg IMG_3466.jpeg

And as always, thanks for reading!
 

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robertk

robertk

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The updates are few and far between this time of year. The weather and the work just do not want to cooperate. But I did manage to get out a couple of times in the past week or so. Found the usual assortment of old iron, plus a few more interesting bits.

IMG_3621.jpeg IMG_3678.jpeg

More of the obligatory spikes and square nails. Another stove damper piece, some farm tool bits, a spoon, some glass and porcelain bits, a buckle frame, a button, and what seems to be a ring. On those nails ... It's surprising how many times multiple square nails close together can sound like something better. Oh well. I actually think they're kinda cool anyway.

As for the ring, it's apparently brass, and looks rather like a kids ring or novelty ring you might see today, with that break in the band. It does appear the break is intentional, and not just corrosion. I don't see any maker's mark or other identifiable marks. This gave a VDI of 44 on the Deus II.

IMG_3686.jpeg IMG_3687.jpeg

The button is probably more interesting. It appears to be a two-piece button (a back and a face). The front face is deeply concave. I don't know if it might have been intended to hold a "gem" or if it was just concave like that. The back does not appear to have any writing on it, at least none that I can see. And the shank looks to go through the back of the button rather than be soldered to it, but it' kinda hard to tell. The button is not very big -- about 1/4" diameter. Here are a number of views. Any thoughts on age or purpose are welcome.

IMG_3684.jpeg IMG_3685.jpeg IMG_3683.jpeg IMG_3682.jpeg IMG_3681.jpeg IMG_3680.jpeg IMG_3679.jpeg
 

releventchair

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The updates are few and far between this time of year. The weather and the work just do not want to cooperate. But I did manage to get out a couple of times in the past week or so. Found the usual assortment of old iron, plus a few more interesting bits.

View attachment 2130193 View attachment 2130194

More of the obligatory spikes and square nails. Another stove damper piece, some farm tool bits, a spoon, some glass and porcelain bits, a buckle frame, a button, and what seems to be a ring. On those nails ... It's surprising how many times multiple square nails close together can sound like something better. Oh well. I actually think they're kinda cool anyway.

As for the ring, it's apparently brass, and looks rather like a kids ring or novelty ring you might see today, with that break in the band. It does appear the break is intentional, and not just corrosion. I don't see any maker's mark or other identifiable marks. This gave a VDI of 44 on the Deus II.

View attachment 2130202 View attachment 2130203

The button is probably more interesting. It appears to be a two-piece button (a back and a face). The front face is deeply concave. I don't know if it might have been intended to hold a "gem" or if it was just concave like that. The back does not appear to have any writing on it, at least none that I can see. And the shank looks to go through the back of the button rather than be soldered to it, but it' kinda hard to tell. The button is not very big -- about 1/4" diameter. Here are a number of views. Any thoughts on age or purpose are welcome.

View attachment 2130200 View attachment 2130201 View attachment 2130199 View attachment 2130198 View attachment 2130197 View attachment 2130196 View attachment 2130195
Congrats!

I like the ring!

Slotted piece bottom right quarter of first pic is intriguing but hard to see.
Thought sight glass or thermometer till a closer look said nope!
 

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robertk

robertk

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What type of Maps did you use?
I found Sanbourne insurance maps are precise with measurements and descriptions .
Just an old county map. The Sunburn maps didn't cover rural areas. At least not any of the ones I've seen.
 

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robertk

robertk

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Slotted piece bottom right quarter of first pic is intriguing but hard to see.
Thought sight glass or thermometer till a closer look said nope!
I think that's actually a piece of harmonica reed. I'll try to get a better photo.
 

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