Category: Jewelry

My Gold Fast is Over!

I took my E-Trac to an old spot for about an hour and a half this afternoon.  I had declared it “hunted out” at least two years ago.  I wanted to see if the E-Trac would pick up anything I missed.

Boy … did it ever …

I dug a couple of bucks in old clad.  But the prize-winner was yet to come.  I got a perfect, stable 10-12 signal, so I dug … almost certain that I had found a nickel.  Instead I dug this little baby …

12.11.12 14k Gold Band

It’s a small, simple, bent and irregular wedding band.  It’s clearly marked 14k.

12.11.12 14k Close-Up

It weighed in at 2.6 grams of 14k gold, which amounts to .0487 ounces of pure gold … worth about $83.31 at today’s melt.

Gold Ring on Scale

Not bad for a short, cold-weather hunt!

My latest video …

Last Saturday I found a beautiful sterling silver class ring.  It was a 1953 ring from Lacy Junior High School in rural Christian County, Kentucky.  The school is now just an elementary school, but in the 1950’s is was a “full service” school for the families of Lacy.  Kids started school in the first grade and twelve years later graduated from the same building.  How amazing is that?  So I had in my possession a boy’s 8th grade “graduation” ring.  Since the year was 1953, he was most likely born in 1939 and graduated in 1957.  But the biggest piece of information was found on the inside of the ring … the initials “E-W-G.”

So I immediately set out on a mission to try and locate the owner.

I just happen to know a teacher who works at the Lacy Elementary School today.  She’s an old friend named Debbie.  I called her and she put me in touch with a woman who graduated from the school in the 50’s.  When I called her, she immediately responded, “Oh, that’s probably Ed Grace.”  Seriously … it was a shotgun reaction.  Not even a single second transpired after I finished my question.  She knew who the ring belonged to.  Unfortunately, she also knew that Mr. Grace had passed away several years ago.  But she joined me in my quest.  So she promised me she would do a little more checking and try to get me a contact number.  That was Sunday, the day after I found the ring.

Then on Monday I received another hone call.  This time, Debbie (my teacher friend) was calling me back.  After we talked the first time she really got caught up in the quest to find the owner of the ring.  Then, apparently, she and some co-workers at the school spent a good part of the day looking for old yearbooks and making contacts.  They, too, came up with the same name … Ed Grace.  But this time we knew that his first name was actually Edgar.  And though there was no 1953 yearbook available, there was a 1952 edition that did not perish in one of the fires that destroyed the original building many years ago.  Debbie snapped a photo with her iPhone and sent it to me.  Here it is …

Ed’s picture in the 1952 school yearbook.

But Debbie had more … the name and number of a sister who still lived nearby.  They had already contacted her earlier in the day to find some information, so she was expecting my call.  So, immediately after hanging up the phone I called Miss Helen, Ed’s older sister.  I introduced myself and told her the story of finding the ring, then I asked her what her brother’s middle name was.  She replied, “Wayne.”  And so the mission was accomplished … in only 48 hours!  I have since affectionately dubbed all of the ladies who helped me my “Official Research Team.”  🙂

Miss Helen and I had a delightful conversation.  She told me how her brother had died in 1990, at the very young age of 51, of a sudden heart attack.  He was a manager in a high-pressure environment in a well-known department store / retail chain, and that apparently took a great toll on him.  He traveled widely in his work.  She had no immediate recollection of the ring, or him losing it, but stated that she would be thrilled to have it and would see if any of his adult children would be interested in having it some day.

So we made arrangements to exchange the ring.  I discovered that she was still working at the age of 75, so  I made an appointment to visit Miss Helen this morning at her workplace.  She was all smiles when I walked in the door and introduced myself.  And that smile got even bigger when I handed her the ring.

She actually couldn’t quit looking at it …

But we did manage to get her to pose so her co-worker could snap a picture of us with my phone …

Kentucky Shooter and Miss Helen

What an awesome day, and what an awesome turn of events.  I never imagined that I would have a ring this old and in the ground that long (at least 55 years) back in the hands of the original owner or a close family member in such a short amount of time.  I figured that it would take weeks.

Plus … out of the search, I have scored at least one more good place to detect.

It just goes to show you what doing the right thing can do!

Thanks for reading, and Happy Hunting!

What can I say?  It’s just been a rough, busy year.  I tend to take the summers off, anyway (too hot, too dry, too many mosquitoes) and hunt in fall and winter months.  But I have sincerely been on a seven-month detecting fast.

I finally broke the fast yesterday with a brief 1.5 hour hunt at an old park in a nearby town.  I’ve hunted the park several times.  There is a mass of metal trash and Zincolns at shallow depths.  It’s pretty tough ground to hunt.

I decided this time that I was going to shoot for deeper “iffy” signals.  I wanted no less than five inches of depth with a solid VDI signature.  I wasn’t looking for more traditional coin signals.

My different approach paid off.

About ten minutes into the hunt I got my first solid hit at five inches.  And out popped this little jewel …

It is a old, monogrammed child’s hair clip, roughly 1.25 inches in length.  And, of course, it is sterling silver!  Here’s a shot of the back.

About a half-hour later I got another five-inch deep signal.  But this one was kind of bouncy.  But since it seemed to be absent any iron, I went for the dig.  And this one really paid off.  I was thrilled to find a sterling silver Playboy Bunny ankle bracelet with a nice, heavy sterling chain.

Here’s a shot of the sterling mark on the clasp loop.

So … I’m back in the game … and back in the silver!  I hope to be posting a LOT more finds in the weeks to come!

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

A Little Christmas Silver

I managed about an hour and a half of hunting right before dark yesterday.  And that’s not easy, considering that the Winter Solstice day (Dec. 21) is the shortest day of the year.  I am soooo tired of it getting dark at 4:30 here in beautiful Kentucky!

Anyhow … I hit another section of the very large schoolyard that I have been hunting this past couple of weeks.  Right now I’m just “cherry-picking” the higher VDI signals, trying to clear out the silver.  And so far my methodology has worked out just fine! 🙂

I added two more silver dimes, both (interestingly) 1964-D’s. Here they be:

That makes a total of 11 silver dimes from this school yard!  I just wish I knew where the quarters are hiding!!  Once again, I dug a pouch full of high VDI copper Lincolns.  Every one of them read 78-80 VDI, and some even gave a whisper of 81-82.  Must be the soil in this particular yard.  I dug close to $3 in clad, including a very fresh drop of four shiny quarters, right on top of the ground. (Not sure where those came from … this place has been abandoned for over 40 years.)

But my “banner find” for the day was one of my very last digs, right before it got too dark for me to see.  I got another 79 VDI and, expecting another 1960 Lincoln, was thrilled to roll over this gorgeous sterling Catholic four-way pendant medal.  It’s a little bigger than a quarter, with roughly the same mass (weight) as two dimes.  Here are front and back views:

It’s cool finding this piece of history, which has been in this ground for at least 40 … most likely for 50 … years.

And I might just be able to hit 100 silver/gold finds this year.  These account for finds #92-94.  If I can just pull out six more before next weekend!


I’ve been out on several short hunts lately. No stellar finds in recent weeks, but I have gotten onto a few decent digs.

Here is my latest video, with story and pics below.

I hit up an old school in my community that was only used for about 10 years. It was just after the “age of silver,” around 1965-1975 or so. I didn’t hold out much hope for finding anything good. But I managed to dig 57 coins, including 7 wheats and these two “bonus” silvers!

I also dug this old “Senior Key” from 1988. My heart skipped a beat when I rolled it over in my plug. I thought it was gold at first. It is initialed on the back, and with just a little detective work I managed to find out the name of the owner. She still lives here in this community. I’m waiting to get her number from a friend and reunite her with her lost jewelry this week.

Finally, yesterday I hunted a trusty cornfield with my buddy, Western KY Digger. I pulled several flat buttons, pieces of buckshot and various small lead pieces, as well as a brass o-ring and j-shaped hook. Hard digging, but lots of fun. Digger dug a rather large flat button and the biggest zouave button I’ve ever seen.

Thanks for reading and looking! I hope to have more for you next week. I’m working on permission for a couple of new spots.

I managed to get out for a quick 2-hour hunt Monday afternoon.  I hit an area in the back of a church where I have permission to hunt.  There was SO MUCH trash that hunting was very difficult.

But, wouldn’t you know it … my very first target was silver!  A 1944 Washington quarter.  I was stoked, and ready to hit the spot with gusto.

Then I dug a most curious find … a weird 1900 medallion / badge from Memphis, Tennessee, commemorating the city’s population in 1900.  A strange find, indeed, for rural western Kentucky.  Obviously, it must be a relic from the original home on the site, since the church building was not constructed until 1957/58.

Here’s a pic … any info on its origin or purpose will be appreciated.

Then one last strange find.  It is a piece of lead, about 3 1/2 inches in length.  And it actually looks like someone heated and poured lead through a harmonica reed!  Has anyone ever seen anything like this?  Here are a front and top view?

Thanks for looking!

A Little Siver Surprise!

I went back to the church I hunted earier this week and changed my direction 90 degrees to search the same piece of ground where I dug the three silver coins.  I didn’t find much before the misty rain set in today … $1.31 in clad, an old bridle rosette, and this …

It’s stamped “925 Italy” on the clasp.  So it’s sterling silver!  It appears to be a tennis bracelet.  Yet another silver find to add to my total for the year.