I braved the cold this afternoon to hunt an old school grounds that I recently received permission to hunt. The school existed from around the late 1940’s until just a few years ago. I was hoping that it would be a prime spot for some junk silver coinage.

I even dreamed about it last night … I think I dug over 100 silver coins in one day in that dream.

Anyhow … five minutes after I chose my starting spot and began to walk my very first line, I got a very strong “half-dollar/dollar” VDI on my MXT. I automatically assumed that it was a can or lid, but when I checked the depth it was reading in the 4-5 inch range. Intrigued, I kicked my relic shovel into the sod and turned over a plug. And shining forth from that plug was this piece of sweetness … it looked exactly like this. Not a blemish on it. All I did was rinse off the dirt!

Here’s a close-up of the decorative edge …

You can’t read it on the face, but I can see with a magnifying glass (and the watch held at an angle in bright light) the words “Santa Fe Special” and “Illinois.”

Turns out this is a size 14, open-face Santa Fe Special railroad watch made by the Illinois Watch Company in Springfield, IL. As best I can tell, this company was in operation under this name from 1869 until 1927.

I’m having trouble identifying the specific type and year of manufacture. And I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get the back off and check the serial number for a positive ID.

Any suggestions would be helpful …

From the look of the finish it appears to be 18k gold (most likely filled). Most likely not solid, but still a measurable amount of gold.

I’m stoked. This one find saved the day … all the rest was clad.

Thanks for looking! HH

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