Archive for January, 2012

Well, I got the call from my jeweler this morning. He managed to get the back off. It took two days of soaking. The inner workings are, most regrettably, “toast.” The buildup of rust had leeched into the threads, thus the difficulty in removing the back.

The good news is that it is, indeed, an authentic Illinois Watch Works “Santa Fe Special.” Here’s a pic with the back off.

This is what it should look like …

I was able to get the serial number … 2885910,

and based upon (, this number dates the manufacture in the year 1916! I remain amazed that I found a watch in the ground, that old, in such amazing condition.

It sure looks like pure gold. But … the bad news is that is is 10k gold filled. crybaby2

So, there are probably 5 or 6 grams of actual gold in the watch, but that’s about it. And I don’t know if it could be extracted, or if anyone would fool with it.

All that to say … basically, what I have is a really shiny conversation piece.

But I’m still counting it as a “Gold find” for 2012. laughing7

Oh, well. Solid AU was a little too much to hope for, I suppose. Guess I’ll go cry by meself for a while.

Thanks for keeping up with my little saga. notworthy

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

I haven’t had a lot of time to invest in getting onto new sites lately, so I returned to my old stand-by … the 1960’s school that has blessed me with 13 silver dimes and over 250 coins.

Once again, she came through for me.  I dug 50 coins total, including 6 wheaties and this little piece of sweetness – a 1947-D Rosie.

I’m on my way!

Happy hunting to all.

Yesterday I separated my pennies from my fake silver, worthless, American clad coinage that I dug this past year for tumbling.  I loaded the tumbler before bed last night, ready for rinsing and drying this morning.

I was quite shocked when I found this shiny little disc in with my junk clad.

It’s a 1943-P 40% silver War Nickel!  A surprise silver/gold find #98 for 2011!  I must have dug it on my last day of hunting, December 28, before bad weather and my kitchen paint job (one of my Christmas presents for my wife … along story) kicked in.  I dug a LOT of nickel signals that day and had a pouch full of nasty 5-centers.  I didn’t look at any of them very closely.  My bad …

The tumbler really did a number on that soft silver.  I can barely make out the date.

Oh, well … it just goes in with all my other “junk silver” anyways.  A nice surprise this morning, and I didn’t even have to go swinging to find it!

And I almost forgot … another surprise! I found a 1964-D silver Rosie in my daughter’s change last week.  I saw it laying on her dresser and thought that it looked suspiciously like silver.  I was right!  Bonus find!  I made the MXT “whump-whump” signal with my mouth as I waved my hand over the coin just to make it legal. 🙂  That was silver find #97 for me in 2011.

Here’s a picture …

Thanks for looking.  There’s still silver out there!  HH