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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!

Hunting Buddy Whiskey Delta and I spent the day hunting a couple of old school sites near home.

He struck silver first, digging a small, thin, flattened sterling ring out on the old baseball field.

A few minutes later I got a jumpy signal in the silver dime / quarter range on my E-Trac. I cut my plug and out popped this baby!

It is a 1953 sterling class ring from the no-longer-existent Lacey Junior High School. The owner of this ring would now be around 72-73 years old!

The crest was actually off of the ring. I had to search deeper in the hole to find it, then I repaired and reattached it when I got home.

Here is a side view, with a beautiful masted ship or schooner.

Here is a shot of the maker’s stamp. I’ve researched the company and can find no records of it.

Now my research begins. There are initials inside the ring. I know a teacher who works at the school located on this site. I am hoping that they have some old yearbooks in the library. I just might be able to figure out an owner.

How cool would that be? Returning a junior high ring 60 years later …

Whiskey Delta had the find of the day, though. Just as we were getting ready to go he got a “squeaker” of a signal, nice and deep. He pulled a gorgeous, very worn and thin 1907 Barber Dime! He wid the Whiskey Delta ugly version of the happy dance.

Today I returned to the old hotel site where I have found some of my most incredible finds, namely my 1805 Draped Bust Dime and a 1/3 ounce 18k gold band from the 1880’s.  I’ve found several other silvers there, and lots of Indian Head pennies … but never any large coppers.

Anyhow … it’s been over a year since I hunted the site.  I took my hunting buddy Whiskey Delta to the location for the first time.  We had been there every bit of ten minutes when my new E-Trac howled at a coin target.  I was shocked (I mean, genuinely shocked) to flip over my plug and at two inches find this …

1806/7 King George III Halfpenny Reverse

1806/7 King George III Halfpenny Obverse (No Detail)

I had to make the identification based upon the reverse only.  As you can see, there is no detail on the obverse, except for the “D” and “G” at the 2:00 position … right were you would expect them.

It appears that someone took a punch to the face of King George … go figure.  🙂    But they still kept the halfpenny to spend.

I found this coin about 40 feet from the exact spot where I dug the 1805 Draped Bust Dime.  Both from exactly the same period!  Clearly, this was from a VERY early homestead on this spot.  The land was only settled around 1795-1800.  This would have been the real “frontier” of America around 1810.

I know some of you New England guys won’t be very impressed at all, but this is a HUGE find for my little part of the world … an ultra rarity.

Thanks for looking! HH


Well, I just got my new Minelab E-Trac on Wednesday.  I took it out for about an hour yesterday afternoon to one of my “hunted out” spots.  Trust me, I’ve been swinging over this spot for three years … at least ten different detecting days.  But the E-Trac still found six coins.  No silver, but one was a 1940 nickel.  I was impressed.

This afternoon I visited another of my “hunted out” spots that I have blanketed with my MXT.  It’s an old school where I’ve dug 13 silver dimes, several pieces of jewelry, and about 250 coins overall.  Once again, I dug another 15 coins in less than an hour.  I’m even more impressed.

But the queen mother of impressive finds with my new machine was actually this morning.  I had to run an errand for my work in a nearby town.  While there, I hit an old park (established in 1914) that I’ve hunted about a dozen times.  I dug 25 coins that I had passed over before with my MXT.

This was one of them … a 1906 Edward VII Penny!

When I saw the large copper in the hole my heart jumped into my throat!  I’ve only found four other large coppers in all my years of hunting.  We just don’t have many here in the south.  It was a strange signal because there was a piece of iron as well as a pull tab in the hole with it.  I just assume that’s why I missed it before.  Unfortunately, it looks like I nicked it during the dig.  Oh, well, at least it was copper.

Doesn’t it figure that on Election Day 2012, I find a $ 1,000 in funny money?  How appropriate and prophetic …

Thank goodness that my $1,000 in “Fun Bucks” wasn’t all that I found.

I decided to take Election Day off and do some detecting with my new hunting buddy, Whiskey Delta.  We hit a couple of old school sites.  The first one was a location where a new school was built on the site of an old college.  Not a lot of targets there, but I did make some good finds.

I dug two low-range (VDI in mid-40’s) Indian Heads (1901 & 1906) and a completely toasted Buffalo Nickel.  Which says to me that the area was already cherry-picked for silver years ago and my finds were the result of digging deep, “iffy” targets.”

We covered the ground thoroughly then went around back and cleaned out the playground wood chips before leaving (why not make a little quick gas money, right?).

After a killer lunch at a local barbecue shack we headed out to the country to another old school.  The original part was built in the 20’s or 30’s, but new portions have been added on.  We located a piece of the yard that we hoped to be undisturbed and got at it.

It was a great spot.  When all was said and done we each had a sack full of pennies and nickels from the 40’s and 50’s.  (I dug 6 wheats myself.)  And we each got on silver!

Whiskey Delta struck silver first with a 1944-S War Nickel.  I followed with four silvers … a merc, a Rosie, and another two War Nickels!  We were a bit stumped by the concentration of War Nickels in such a small area.  But no complaints here!

So I ended the day my silvers and old pennies, a $1000 bill, and about $3 in clad.  And I had a blast!  It was great just to take a day off and dig with a friend.  Here’s a picture.

Finds from Election Day 2012

Thanks for reading.  HH.

My E-Trac is On the Way!

I made a deal last week to buy a Minelab E-Trac from a fellow member of the Friendly Metal Detecting Forum.  I got a great deal.  And I just heard from the seller that FedEx now has it and it is on the way!  I should receive delivery on Wednesday.  He sent me some pictures from the packing.  This one is my favorite …

My New Baby! 🙂

I can’t wait to break it in!!

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

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.