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Volume 17 Issue 1 - JAN-FEB 2021

Discover the best professional documents and content resources in AnyFlip Document Base.
Published by Colin Savage, 2021-01-06 12:02:26


Volume 17 Issue 1 - JAN-FEB 2021

Volume 17 For Diggers and Collectors Issue 1

In This Issue:

Southern Plate

Making Buttons
from Shells

Broken Artifacts

How to Display
Your Finds

Creek Bank

Family Relic

Dug Revolver Not
What it Seems

Plus recent finds, regular
columns & much more! January-February 2021
$7.95 USA

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with purchase of a complete

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January-February 2021 American Digger® 1

Volume 17 For Diggers and Collectors January-February
Issue 1 2021

The final count? Page 24
Finding one “CSA” buckle is good. A few lucky souls dig several, usually over the
course of a few decades. But find where they were made and all bets are off.
By Joe Haile

Holey shells Page 28
Before there was plastic, some buttons were manufactured from mussel shells. The Page 32
old shells used for this are collected by one of our readers in Arkansas.
By Kip Davis
Veteran’s hill
A wooded hilltop in Georgia gives up a plethora of coins, buttons, and other
artifacts—including two parts of a broken spur which are at last reunited.
By John Daniel Langley

You found it – now show it off! Page 38
An experienced digger explains how to best display and label artifacts, so that Page 44
others might be able to better learn from and enjoy them.
By Mark Schuessler Pagee 5580
Tennessee creek bank artifacts
A veteran arrowhead hunter, on solo trips and with his son and granddaughter,
recover numerous beautiful stone points in the Volunteer State.
By Quindy D. Robertson
From the Very Beginning
An entire family of four pursue their passion of digging and collecting Civil War
and Native American artifacts across the South.
By Nikki Walsh

Not what it seems Page 56
A black powder revolver. Manufactured. Sold. Lost. Found. Lost again, found again.
And not really as old as it appears. Here is its story.
By Charlie Harris

2 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

American D-Mail……..4 Founded in 2004 by those that love the hobby

Q&A....………...….…...8 Publisher
Butch Holcombe
Marketing Director
Just Dug……………......12 Anita Holcombe

Reviews........................59 Photographer/Consultant
Charles S. Harris
Current Events..............63
Senior Editor
News-n-Views ................66 Bob Roach

Talking Points.................68 Copy Editors
Bill Baab
Trading Post.…………...71 Eric Garland
Teresa Harris
The Hole Truth…….…..72
Field Representatives (USA)
Cover Photo Midwest Northeast Southeast
______ Jeff Lubert Allyson Cohen Heath Jones

We welcome a new year with this cover full Videographer
of history. Shown are a rare North Carolina Riley Bryant
sword belt wreath (ca. early 1860s), an 1850s
militia belt plate, a 1836 Liberty Bust silver Webmaster
half dime, an embossed “L.Z. Foerster” Randy Dickerson
bottle (1893-1914), a colonial-era sundial, an
1841 William Harrison campaign fob, and a Consultants
mid-19th century gold and emerald ray
cross. In the background is a well thought- James Cecil, Dennis Cox, Bill Dancy, William Leigh
out display of a 1500s dig site. All this and III, Pam Lynch, Jack Melton, Mike O’Donnell, Sanford
more awaits in this issue of American Digger. Potts, Mike Singer, Pete Schichtel, Bob Spratley, Jim
Thomas, Don Troiani
Our Mission:
Photos by Dennis Burlingame, David Gascoyne, Melissa “To promote the responsible excavation and
Kagey, Ted Livingston, Dave Lofgren, Mark Schuessler, collecting of all artifacts related to America.”

Pete Schichtel, James Stottlemyer, and Bill Yandell. American Digger® (ISSN# 1551-5737)

published bi-monthly by Greybird Publishers, LLC
PO Box 126, Acworth, GA 30101.
(770) 362-8671.

Periodical postage paid at Acworth, GA
and at additional mailing offices.

Send address changes to:

American Digger® ,
P O Box 126, Acworth, GA 30101
We respect our readers’ privacy, and
never sell, rent, or publicize subscribers’

names or addresses.
Yearly print subscriptions

USA, $38.95
Canada, $58.95; Europe $78.95
Yearly digital subscriptions $20.95
Mail subscription payment to:

American Digger® Magazine
PO Box 126

Acworth, GA 30101
Or pay online at:
Phone orders also welcome using most major
credit cards: (770) 362-8671
No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any
way without the written consent of the publisher.
American Digger® has no affiliation with any hobby
groups, entertainment venues, or websites other than
our own. While we strive for accuracy, American
Digger® cannot be held liable for inadvertent misrep-
resentation. Reader submissions are encouraged, and
you may write or visit our website for guidelines.
Emailed submissions should be sent to [email protected] We reserve the right to reprint
photos and text as needed. Unless otherwise request-
ed, all correspondence to American Digger® is subject
to publication. We strongly oppose illegal recovery
and wanton destruction of artifacts. Please dig re-
sponsibly. Our hobby depends on it!

© 2021

January-February 2021 American Digger® 3

American D-Mail

Digging Through Our Mail Box…

Got a comment or question? Write or email us!
[email protected]

Inspiring Beepin ‘ Steve Meinzer
I just received the new issue of American Digger® and as
usual it is great! I have been out of commission for the past
several months (cancer and chemo) and am just getting back
into the “swing” of things. I recently got to go detecting for
the first time in about a year and it was wonderful. Even
though I didn’t find anything spectacular, just the fact that I
was able to do it was awesome. At one point I wondered if
I would ever be able to go detecting again; fortunately the
treatment worked and I have been returning to my old active
self. Having your magazine to read kept me inspired while
I was at my worst; thanks for the inspiration.
Ray Coulter
Tucumcari, New Mexico

We are overjoyed that your health has improved and you’ve
been able to return to detecting, and we are honored that you
chose us for inspiration. You have inspired us as well. -AD

Virtual Meeting Frank made a mental note to be more
I just want to say thank you to Butch (American Digger® specific the next time he posted online
publisher) for being our speaker at the Eureka Treasure
Hunters Club virtual meeting in October 2020. We seeking a hunting buddy.
appreciate his taking the time to join us, and we enjoyed
his discussion of metal detecting, personal experiences, and the story? I’m confused.
work as a magazine publisher, as well as his great sense of Rachel Cross
humor. We Coloradans also enjoyed hearing that Georgia Dallas, Texas
accent! My wife (Susan) and I are always delighted when
our copy of American Digger® arrives in the mailbox. Although it has been a year of changes in the world of metal
Thanks for the outstanding written content and fantastic detecting, the suspension of operations at White’s and the
photographs in each issue. Your magazine is consistently acquisitions of at least some of its assets by Garrett has been one
entertaining and inspiring for us as treasure hunters. of the top stories of 2020 in the metal detecting hobby. Rather
Norm Ruggles than confuse everyone further by our own understandings of
Denver, Colorado what transpired, we were authorized by Garrett to release the
following press release:
Butch was honored to have been a guest speaker in what
may become a new norm, at least for awhile. This was Garland, TX, October 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/
the first time we were involved in a Zoom format with a Today, Garrett Electronics, a design and manufacturing company
detecting club and thanks to your club’s preparations, all specializing in sport and security metal detectors, announced the ac-
went smooth. We expect we’ll see more of this in the near quisition of certain assets of White’s Electronics.
future.-AD White’s, who had been in business since 1950 as a premier man-
ufacturer of metal detection products, announced the suspension of
What’s The Story?
Is it true that White’s metal detectors are connected with
Garrett? I thought they were two separate brands and had
even heard that White’s had gone out of business. What is

4 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

operations on June 18, 2020 in a memo to its dealers. White’s found- or other media to show that detectorists do a valuable service
ers, Kenneth and Olive White, built their business the same way Gar- to the community.-AD
rett’s founders, Charles and Eleanor Garrett, did, by innovating and
committing to producing high quality products in the United States. Writer’s Guidelines
White’s current principals, Kenneth R. and Mary White, are choosing As a new subscriber to your magazine I’m writing for a couple of
to fold the White’s legacy in with Garrett Metal Detectors as a way of reasons. First off, I thoroughly enjoy your publication and wish
extending their “Made in the USA” tradition. it was done monthly. Secondly, as a longtime writer dedicated
solely to covering metal detecting (I began writing in the mid-
Garrett CEO Steve Novakovich commented, “The White family 1970s) I would like to have a look at your writer’s guidelines.
and the Garrett family have had a high level of respect for one another Here in Texas I have access to several qualified relic hunters
as competitors in the sport market for decades. Now we at Garrett are (both plantation and Civil War). There is a wealth of subject
proud to combine our respective legacies as Garrett continues on as matter available. And too, since the other detecting magazines
the premier American metal detector company.” are now out of business or gone fully digital, I’m looking for a
new source for submitting my material for publication.
The transaction includes White’s trademarks, intellectual proper-
ty, tooling, and other assets. It does not include White’s real estate in I would very much appreciate receiving your writer’s
Oregon or Scotland. Garrett intends to rigorously defend all of White’s guidelines as soon as convenient for you to do so. Again, I’ll
trademarks, patents, and other IP wherever infringement may occur. repeat that your magazine is remarkable. The photo quality
is outstanding and you seem to have the full cooperation of
Novakovich continued, “Garrett recognizes that the White’s interested sub­scribers.
brand has a loyal following in the U.S. and around the world. We are Tom Vance
pleased to welcome those customers to Garrett, and we hope we can McKinney, Texas
earn your future business.”
We appreciate the compliments and encourage our readers
Current White’s customers in need of repair or warranty service to submit their own articles for consideration. For feature
should contact: articles, our guidelines are as follows:

Centreville Electronics Feature articles should be 1200 to 2500 words in length,
9437 Main Street with at least eight (preferably more) photos with your article
Manassas, VA 20110 submissions. We prefer digital photos (5 mb or more), but will
(888)645-0202 accept hard copies.
(703)367-7999 What we look for in stories:
• True accounts of metal detecting or other artifact collecting
Centreville Electronics NW
1550 Maple Place not previously published (including internet publications)
Lebanon OR 97355 • Educational/how-to hints and tips
(541)409-7263 • Relevant historical information about contextual time
periods, specific regions, topics, types of relics, etc.
Return of the Month • Historical relic or coin recovery narratives, especially
I was contacted on 10/17/20 by a gentleman in northwest Ohio
who had lost his ring while doing some brush work in the yard from World War II-era or earlier. We prefer stories
and trimming some trees the about United States locations, but will consider overseas
evening before. After speak- locations and finds with a United States connection, or if
ing with him for a while and accompanied by information that would allow American
him taking the time to answer diggers to replicate the covered experience.
many questions from me as to • We love personal experience articles, but they need to
where it might have been lost, address the needs and interests of our readers. Think not
we arranged to meet the next “all about me,” but “how what I’ve done can help you.”
afternoon to try and locate his
ring. Here is the photo; need- American Digger® magazine takes care to create a publication
less to say it was a happy ending! 1.25 - 1.5 carat diamond and that is accurate, informative, exciting, enjoyable and
gold, what a beauty! When I asked him what it would have cost comprehensive, with an emphasis on metal detecting and
him to replace that particular ring or have something similar, collecting historical artifacts. Your diligence as providers of
he mentioned it would probably cost $8-10,000. I’m so glad I content should be guided by these goals.
could help.
Josh Kimmel Manuscript Submission Policies & Requirements
Celina, Ohio Rights – We respect your rights as a writer and have established
a professional process for working with freelancers. Please
It is amazing how many rings are returned to their rightful sign and return our *Freelance Agreement (on the next page)
owners by metal detectorists. Such good deeds are often
unnoticed by the public at large, and we suggest that those January-February 2021 American Digger® 5
finding and returning such items contact their local newspapers

with your article submission. Once published, you retain all classified ad in the issue your article is published in, and
rights as to ownership of your work. automatic entry in our annual cash prize writer’s contest.

We do not publish previously published articles, including Editorial Content: We fact-check our articles for accuracy.
online publications (including blogs) nor will we publish any Please include a list of factual references and/or sources for
articles containing material that encourages illegal or unethi- you articles, if applicable. Also include a brief (30 words or
cal activities. less) author bio with your submission.

If submitting electronically, the text and captions should Sampling of Readers’Topic Requests:
be in Microsoft Word and photos should be sent separately as Here’s a list of topics our readers have suggested:
large (5mb+) files. • Personal accounts of relic or coin hunts
• Bottles/privy digging
Initial Inquiry Process: Please make your initial inquiry for • Interviews with prominent diggers & treasure hunters
feature articles via email to [email protected], • Gold digging and prospecting
indicating the topic, your related experience, expertise or other • Safety in the field and items to carry when digging
qualifications to write the story; and availability of related • Beach/water hunting
photos or illustrations. • Club histories
• Great finds
If you have difficulty with email, we will accept inquiries • Reconstructing bottles/pots or artillery shells
via USPS mail, and submission of manuscripts and images • How to research potential hunt sites
on thumb drives, CD or DVD. We do not return submitted • Maintenance of detectors
materials, unless accompanied by self-addressed, stamped • Fossils
envelope (SASE) with sufficient postage. We cannot be held • Military artifacts
responsible for lost items; please keep a backup copy. • Stone artifacts
• Getting permission to hunt properties
Payment: Three complementary copies, a business card or • Interesting historical artifact collections
• Getting kids into digging
Please print and sign this form and submit it with your article: • How to get in physical _shape for digging
• Cleaning/preserving/displaying recoveries
American Digger® Magazine Freelance Author’s Agreement: • Tips for beginners
• Relics and recoveries concerning (but not limited to):
To avoid duplications and complications with other publica-
tions, we cannot accept simultaneous submissions of the same colonial military/civilian, Civil War, Indian Wars, Old West,
work to multiple publications. We also require that articles not Native American, fossils, prospecting, and ghost towns
have been previously published anywhere, including the inter- We urge readers and first-time authors to not be intimidated
net. (Once published by us, the submitted work remains your by these guidelines, as our editorial staff will work with you as
property to do with as you wish.) needed. For those not quite ready for a full article, we invite
On very rare occasions, we will reprint previously published them to submit shorter stories with Just Dug finds for “In Their
articles, provided you are the author and fully reference the
original publication. As a courtesy, we must also obtain per- ADDAM’S RELIC
mission from such publications before republishing. Your sig- HUNTING ADVENTURES
nature below confirms that the submitted piece:
Offering guided relic hunts in the
1) was written by you Charleston Lowcountry for over 14 years.
2) has not been previously published unless noted
3) has either been rejected or not sent to any other *Families, beginners, & seasoned hunters welcome
*Hourly & daily rates available year-round
publications *Use your own detector or use ours
4) photos are properly credited and permission has been
Addam Coe and Robert Bohrn together have over 70 years
given to publish of experience. Call 843-276-8338 to reserve a hunt or inquire
5) person (s) appearing in photographs have given their about our services. Check us out on [email protected] DIGS or
visit our FaceBook page, Addam’s Relic Hunting Adventures.
permission to publish them
(843) 276-8338
Your signature releases American Digger® from any
claims or legal matters made to the contrary by others.

Author’s signature: _______________________________

Printed Name: ____________________________________

Date: ____________

6 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

Three Days
of Digging,

Greenville, NC
March 5-7, 2021

2200 Acres. 40+ Homesites. Slots are limited! Register
Two Plantations. Colonial River Landing. now to assure your included.
Native American Village. Multiple Bottle For more information, email
Dumps. Rumored British Rev. War Camp. [email protected]
or phone (518) 314-9558

Own Words.” However, it should be noted that only feature ar- Although we were not able to examine the blade firsthand, two
ticles of 1,200 words or more are eligible for the annual cash things make us suspect it is a corn knife: The lack of a defined
awards. The release form to include with your article is shown ricasso where the handle meets the blade and the thinness of
below. Our full guidelines, including photo guidelines, can be the blade. However, items were often repurposed in the hands
found online at of blacksmiths of the 18th and 19th centuries, and it is not
guidelines/-AD unheard of to fashion a broken sword blade into something
more useful, especially in times of peace. -AD
 “One Mile” Question
In the photograph on page In__M___em_o_riam
47 (AD Vol. 16 Issue 6, in
the article “One Mile in 35 Harvey Gambrell
Years,” is that some type of Nov. 9, 1930 - Nov. 13, 2020
sword blade or early  corn or
hay knife?  How old is it?  I Marietta, GA
found one exactly like it many _______
years ago (definitely  hand
forged) on a Revolutionary War camp site. However, there was Longtime Civil War relic hunter
also a mid-late 1800s farm in the area as well.  I’ve been told and member of North Georgia
it was an 18th century short sword blade by some, and a 19th
century corn knife by others. It was also suggested to me that it Relic Hunter’s Association
was an 18th century corn knife used by the pack horse drivers
used to cut forage for the animals (the army that camped there January-February 2021 American Digger® 7
had over 1,000 pack horses, no wagons), I’m leaning toward
corn knife but what period?  Any thoughts?
Doug Angeloni
Canton, Ohio

? Q&A With
Charles Harris
Photo courtesy of
the carbine on the hook would it take
to do this? That’s not impossible, but
I’ve never seen such wear on any other
sling hooks. Then again, perhaps since
it doesn’t have a floating connector, in-
stead using this forge welded method,
it would cause extra wear on the loop.
That could explain why this design (if
it is a sling hook) is unknown: it didn’t
work. It does have a roller to allow a
strap of some kind to move on it, oth-
erwise there are few similarities to the
Union carbine sling swivel hook. But as
to what it really is, I am lost.

Idug this iron piece from a Confed- Federal issue carbine sling swivel This rather unique stone was
erate cavalry camp near Savannah, hook. Note the “floating” connector found by me many years ago
Georgia. I believe it is part of a tying the two pieces together. on the shores of Lake Erie
Confederate carbine sling swivel hook near Buffalo, New York. The stone is
but cannot find another one like it. The __________ smooth and round but appears to have
overall length is 4-¼” x 2” wide, and some type of painted or inlaid symbol
the oval link is 3” long x 1-¼” wide copies of it are nearly identical to the in it. I’m thinking maybe it is Native
What do you think? original specified size. Besides, a nar- American.
Eddie Shumann rower sling would offer less support for Cliff Sears
a carbine and tend to dig into the shoul-
What do I think, or what do I know? I der of the wearer. Then there is the long Although the symmetry and beauty of
think that there is a possibility that this link. Again, this could be just a Confed- the design would seem to point to some
may be an unlisted Confederate version erate variant, but because of its length type of man-made artistry, we suspected
of the sling hook used by the U.S. cav- it would do away with the floating con- it was not man made, but a product
alry, but I don’t know that. Our pub- necting piece found on the Federal ver- of nature, also called a “geofact”, i.e. a
lisher and I discussed our own feelings sions. Eliminating that floating action
about it and concluded the following. would greatly inhibit the free swinging
Despite the similarities, there are a few action needed in a carbine sling, which
things that stop us from declaring that tethered a carbine to the soldier yet al-
it is a Southern sling hook. Let’s start lowed him the freedom to use the fire-
with what we know. The width of a Fed- arm without unsnapping it. There is
eral leather carbine sling is 2½ inches, also an unusual amount of wear at the
which means the D-ring on yours is half bottom. While this would make sense as
an inch narrower. The Federal sling was to why it would be discarded, just how
tried and true and most Confederate many hours of continually carrying

8 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

geological formation that appears to be searching I’ve done though, I can’t find The 7-digit number is most likely a lot
an artifact. To confirm this and find out a base that matches mine nor a match- number, since it is repeated on the in-
more, we asked Chase Pipes of the Smoky ing headstamp. I’ve cleaned one box dividual cartridges.
Mountain Relic Room in Seveirville, of the shells and the headstamps are as
Tennessee, who explained: follows:

“That’s an agate that is still encased U.S. 18 2872-316
in the ‘mother rock’ it was formed in. As U.S. ?? 2872-316
to what kind of agate, I have no idea. It U.S. 18 2872-316
was probably polished round due to nat- U.S. 18 1425-533
ural erosion and weathering in whatever Can you provide me with more in-
creek it was in, but it doesn’t look like the formation on these shells?
Indians made it round.” Ed Stewart

However, there is little doubt that My first impression was that they This brass disc was found by me
an interesting rock is an interesting rock, were .45-70 blank cartridges, but the at a Civil War site in Paulding
even to the Native Americans. Because dating on the head stamps (in this County, Georgia. The front is
a number of geofacts appear in sites case, “18” for 1918) postdated their stamped “5 W.C.P.” The back is blank
regularly used by Native Americans, it use as U.S. government ammunition. although you can see a bit of the nu-
is possible that they valued them as an The rolled in front edges also led me meral coming through in reverse.
oddity. While that is all speculation, the to think that these were blank car- Any ideas?
certainty is that it was naturally formed. tridges. The .45-70 Trapdoor rifles Keith Cochran
that the U.S. government used pretty
Ifound two boxes of cartridge shells, well went out of use when the .30-06 I am pretty sure this isn’t a tool chit
containing six empty shells each, magazine fed rifles came into use by because there is no hole to hang it
in a northeast Kansas privy that the mid-1890s. from. Chits were normally issued to
dated to the early 1900s.  As you can individuals to hang at the location that
imagine, the boxes were deteriorated But I wasn’t sure of this and for- they borrowed a tool from. That way it
beyond salvage.  The shells them- warded the photos to Frank Warren. could be traced back to the borrower
selves were very corroded and needed Frank, a relic hunter and collector, if it was not returned. It’s not a min-
quite a bit of cleaning. The shells are has found some WWI and WWII ar- er’s chit for the same reason. Miners
2.19” long, .549” OD, .443” ID, and tillery practice sites and immediately were issued chits so they could be paid
weigh 25g. I’m not a firearms expert identified what you have found as for the car full of coal or mineral that
but based on internet searching these primers to fire the cannon shells. They had been mined. By elimination, along
measurements seem like a .45-70.  The are basically blanks (full of powder) with the fact that Civil War soldiers
headstamp includes, “U.S.” which the that become the primer for the can- were present at the site, this leads me
references I found say belong to the non charge. One hint here is the heav- towards identifying it as a sutler’s to-
United States Cartridge Co.  In all the ily recessed primer in your shells. The ken, then worth five cents. The W.C.P.
primer is made of brass and consists would be the sutler’s initials. I looked
of the brass body, the percussion ele- through my book of Civil War Sutler
ment assembly, conical gas checks, the Tokens & Cardboard Scrip by David
closing discs, and the primer charge. Schenkman, but did not find this one.
The primer charge is held in place by That is not to say that it is not a sutler’s
the closing disc and beeswax. This is token, because through my years with
then sealed with a shellac varnish. American Digger® we have positively
identified four different tokens that are
Earlier models may well have had not in the book.
the front end of the primer curled in
to help hold the disc, as yours are. So
far, we have not been able to posi-
tively identify the markings on the
base of these primers, but here is
what I can tell you: The “U.S.” stands
for the United States, not the United
States Cartridge Co. The “18” is most
likely the year of manufacture. U.S.
military ammunition, whether small
arms or for artillery, is always dated.

January-February 2021 American Digger® 9

10 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

STUMPT! We don’t know what they are. Do you know
what they are? Send your guesses, facts,
theories, ideas, and related correspondence to:

Stumpt, c/o American Digger®,
PO Box 126, Acworth, GA, 30101
or email [email protected]

Eric Hanewinkel dug this brass or Nick Brainard dug this iron relic John Webber recovered this or-
copper piece fairly close to the St. from a Confederate site in Arkan- nate stamped brass piece in
Louis Gateway Arch on the bluffs of sas. So far, there are two schools Knoxville, Tennessee. It mea-
the Mississippi River. It appears to of thought on its use: a button pol- sures two inches wide and three
be a mold for an insect, but how old isher or a barrel wrench for a boot inches long, and has no attach-
is it and what was it used for? It pistol. The size is perfect for either ment points visible except for
measures about 2-½ by 2 inches. use. We want to hear our readers’ the four holes in the center oval.
Several Seated Liberty coins, the thoughts on it so we can all learn a While it has been suggested
oldest being 1853, were also dug little more about history. that it could be a Victorian-era
on this site. sash buckle,we feel the lack
of attachment marks indicates
something else. If you have any
information or ideas about it,
please contact us.

Steve Warren found this cast Solved! Solved!
brass item in Suffolk, Virginia, When James David Harper emailed to say that
a few years back, but has never Alonzo had this the piece James Martin found is
discovered its identity. Thoughts item (top photo) one of the prongs soldered to the
among the American Digger® staff published quite upper portion of a mid-1800s oil
have been that it’s funerary in na- awhile back in lamp to hold the glass globe in
ture because of the urn, another these pages, place. He notes that the White Oak
thinks it represents a trophy and we had no luck Civil War Museum had a number
is automotive decor, and the pub- in identifying it. But after David of these on display, along with the
lisher thinks it is a combination Davison recently sent us a nearly remains of a lamp with one still at-
of sorts and used as decor on a identical one that he found (shown tached. He adds that they were
hearse buggy. But no one knows above), reader Erik Wagner iden- lightly attached and would come
for sure; do you? It measures over tified it as a rack pulley for hold- unsoldered over time.
2½ inches long, and almost 2 ing window shade cords and even
inches wide and has the letter “G” sent a photo of a Russell & Irwin
engraved into it. catalogue page showing one.

January-February 2021 American Digger® 11

Just Dug Recent finds by our readers...

After sitting out the spring and sum- Dave Lofgren was metal detect- Mark Parker, aka “Mark the Burgh
mer months of 2020, David Harsh ing around an old house founda- Hunter,” was history hunting a site
got back to detecting in a big way tion in the Thousand Islands region near Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and
in the fall by recovering these Civil of New York when he recovered found what looked to be just an-
War-era buttons at “hunted out” sites this U.S. militia waist belt plate. other flat button. Upon brushing off
in central Virginia during September The buckle, which retains some of the loose dirt, Mark was surprised
and October 2020. The MVC (Mobile its original silver finish, dates be- to see the initials “GW” in the
Volunteer Corps) and South Carolina tween 1818-1830. Dave made the center. It turned out to be a 1789
cuff button were found on one day. George Washington Inaugural but-
Next came a Confederate iron back find on September 13, 2020. ton. The outside circumference
“I” infantry with stars around it, and reads, “Long Live the President.”
then a another cuff-size button, this Photos by Dave Lofgren Mark donated the button to the
time a Virginia Military Institute. With Elizabeth Township Historical So-
the exception of the “I” button, which ciety to be displayed for all to see.
was never gilted, the other three but- He made the find on September 4,
tons all show evidence of their origi- 2020 with a Nokta Makro Impact.
nal gold finishes. Photos by David Harsh
Photo by Mark Parker

Troy Armstrong dug this nearly complete musket at a Confederate position of the 47th
Georgia Regiment near Beaufort, South Carolina. Oddly, it has the markings of the
93rd Sutherland Highlanders on the butt plate. After numerous correspondences with
Royal Armoury curators, among other authorities, Troy learned that when the American Civil War started
the Confederacy negotiated to have Pattern 1853 Enfields manufactured. However, they needed weapons
immediately to arm their soldiers. The British army had already converted to the 1853 and at the Tower of
London they had thousands of surplus muskets from the Crimean War tucked away in warehouses. These
were a mixture of Pattern 1842 and Pattern 1851 rifled muskets. The British marked their musket tangs with

regiment numbers and rack numbers. Troy made the find in March 2020. Photos by Troy Armstrong

12 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

Dan Patterson made these Civil David Gascoyne Stan Hanewich was searching a
War-era finds in early 2020 while was detecting site near Franklin, New Hamp-
detecting sites connected with the the site of an shire and recovered this 1826
Vicksburg Campaign. From top left 1830s Semi- U.S. Matron Head large cent. The
and clockwise: a Marine cuff button, nole War fort coin shows little circulation wear
a KMI (Kentucky Military Institute) site near St. Au- and was probably lost not long
coat button, a Union staff officer gustine, Florida and made this find. after it was minted. Stan made
button, a trime three-cent coin, an The 1836 Liberty Bust silver half dime the find on October 3, 2020. You
1857 New Orleans minted Seated shows great detail for a dug coin, with can visit his YouTube
Liberty quarter, and an 1853 New almost no circulation wear. The coin channel, Admonish the
Orleans half dime with arrows. was located almost a foot deep. It Metal, by scanning the
was found on August 25, 2020 with a QR code. Photo by Stan
Photo by Dan Patterson Garrett AT Pro. Photo by David Gascoyne

Matt Kroeper Jason Graham Damien Daigle was detecting a
was participat- was detect- Union Civil War campsite in a
ing in a benefit ing in a freshly plowed sugarcane field in Louisiana
hunt for the cut field locat- and found these 1860s relics.
American Le- ed  near Milled- Shown are two bayonet scabbard
gion put on by geville, Geor- tips, a staff officer button and a U.S.
the The East gia and dug cavalry “C” button. Damien made
Coast Research and Discovery this silver 1837 “large 5C” five-cent
Association (ECRDA) in Pompton coin. It was about six inches deep the finds on October 14 2020.
Plains, New Jersey. Among the in an area he has been over count-
natural finds to turn up on the old less times. 1837 was the last year Photo by Damien Daigle
horse farm was this rare 1797 sil- this coin was made. Jason made the
ver dime. Only 25,261 were mint-
ed that year. Matt made the find in find on September 30, 2020.

October 2020. Photos by Jennifer Stasney

Photos by Pete Schichtel

January-February 2021 American Digger® 13

Michelle Armstrong was detecting While detecting in a vacant lot in
a battle site near Beaufort, South west Texas, Lee Liehr recovered this
Carolina and, among the Civil rare cast brass two-piece buckle.
War-era bullets, found this single Although a similar lightweight sash
shot pistol barrel. It is believed to buckle was made much later, this
be a .54 caliber M1836 pistol lost one is believed to date between 1797
by a Confederate cavalryman de- to 1810 and belonged to a Spanish
fending the position. The barrel naval officer. Although the tongues
still has a round in the bore. Mi- have been found in Spanish camps,
chelle made the find in September this is the first complete example
noted. Lee made the find in May
2020. Photo by Michelle Armstrong 2020 on two consecutive evenings.

Ralph Photo by Lee Liehr Nate long was exploring a southern
Pennsylvania creek while looking for
Tapp was Bill Yandell was digging with his a dump and noticed something odd:
buddy Jeffrey Blackburn with per- a large round stone in the creek.
relic hunt- mission in eastern North Carolina. Although similar to a mill stone used
On the way to this particular site, to grind corn and grain, this mid-
ing a site Bill mentioned to Jeffrey that it 1800s grinding stone was made for
would be cool to dig a North Caro- sharpening or polishing, and may
in central lina Civil War relic. Later that morn- have been powered by the water in
ing, Bill recovered this rare two- the creek. It is approximately two
Kentucky piece “North Carolina” wreath. First feet across. At another dump he
finding the “Carolina” part, minutes recovered the early 1900s cobalt eye
and found later he recovered the “North” por- wash cup and a 1920 calendar from
tion. According to Steve Mullinax’s Swifts Silverleaf Brand Lard. Nate
this cast brass Confederate waist book, Confederate Belt Buckles made the finds in September 2020.
belt buckle. Often called a Georgia & Plates, these were used with a
frame buckle, these were made in “CSA” tongue. Bill made the find in Photo by Nate Long
the south and widely issued by the
Confederate army. This is Ralph’s January 2020. Photo by Bill Yandell Dennis Anderson was detecting an
second Confederate buckle in his 1850 house in Pulaski County, Virgin-
many years of detecting. He made ia and dug this 1917 Walking Liberty
the find on October 5, 2020. half dollar (12,000,000, minted) and
1888 Indian Head cent (37,489,832).
Photos by Ralph Tapp He made the finds in September

2020. Photos by Dennis Anderson

14 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

Dennis Burlingame dug the items shown here during 2020, including the Bill Alexander, detecting along the
old Oregon trail, recovered an old
stunning mid-19th century gold cross. All pieces were found on the New pocket knife, toe protector, square
nails, two spur rowels (one hand-
Jersey coastline. The cross, solid 18 karat gold with genuine emeralds, is made), musket balls, shell casings,
known as a ray cross. Photos by Pete Schichtel an oxen shoe, some arrowheads
and a scraper. Bill made the finds in

Wyoming in September 2020.

Photo by Bill Alexander

Sean McDonough was metal detecting a site near Bainbridge,
New York and found these colonial artifacts. The coppers are
a mix dating between 1729-1787 and consist of King George
II, King George III, Vermont, New Jersey, Connecticut, and a
Nova Constellatio.  Also found nearby was a rare 1807 (7 over
6 error) Draped Bust large cent, an 1828 John Quincy Adams
presidential medal, a silver spoon (circa 1808-1826), and a sil-
ver thimble. Sean made the finds on September 10, 2020.

Photo by Sean McDonough

Arief Barosyid, a serious metal detectorist from Indonesia, was relic hunting 15
near Makam Panjang when he found these items. Dutch colonialists of the
VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) were here in the early 1600s.
Among Arief’s many recent finds are part of a snake buckle, a 12.3 grams
gold ring, and a 1737 silver 1-Stuiver. At right, he searches the site. Arief
uses a Nokta Makto Simplex+. Photos by Arief Barosyid

January-February 2021 American Digger®

Blue Cuevas was de-
tecting in an old park
in Chicago, Illinois and
found this bullet-struck
coin. The 1905 S Bar-
ber silver half dollar
has good detail despite
the bullet damage.
The coin was found at
a depth of almost 10
inches while using a six-inch searchcoil on his detector. Blue found

the numismatic oddity on June 14, 2020. Photo by Blue Cuevas

Johnny Evans, Jr. was detecting James Ryan was detecting in Mason Richard
on privately owned land that used County, Kentucky at a site where an Provost
to be a Prussian settlement in old house was recently torn down. was detect-
Dolly Sods near Maysville, West He was not finding much until he ing a corn
Virginia and recovered this 1853 recovered this King George II half field in Con-
silver trime. Johnny adds that this penny minted between 1727-1760. necticut
coin was on his wife’s bucket list, It is the second oldest coin James and found
but after she was featured in a has ever found, the oldest being this impor-
recent issue with another find, it a William and Mary coin from the tant piece
was his turn. He found the coin on 1690s he found a few years back in of history. With an eagle embossed
the same county with a Garrett AT above the monogram “GW,” it is one
October 14, 2020. of several button styles made to cel-
Pro. Photos by James Ryan ebrate George Washington’s inau-
Photos by Johnny Evans, Jr.  guration. Richard made the find in

October 2020 with a Garrett AT Pro.

Photo by Richard Provost

Dan Centofanti was relic hunting near Vicksburg, Mississippi at a site Melissa Kagey was detecting a site
related to Grant’s campaign to take Jackson and recovered these Civil in Massachusetts when she dug this
War artifacts. Dan’s best find of the weekend was the Model 1839 US belt colonial-era sundial. It was made in
plate, often called a “baby buckle” because of its small size. These plates 1760 by Josiah Miller, a well-known
are usually found at early Civil War sites. Since Grant’s campaign was maker of sundials in New England.
conducted in mid 1863 and his troops were supplied with newer model The marking “L42D” represents
buckles, it is probable that this buckle was worn by a Confederate soldier or latitude 42 degrees, which indicates
was discarded prior to the war by a soldier who lived at a nearby plantation where it’s to be used. Melissa made

house. Dan made the find in September 2020. Photos by Dan Centofanti the find on October 19, 2020.

16 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1 Photo by Melissa Kagey

Dan Frezza of Williamsburg, Vir-
ginia, had a successful Septem-
ber 2020 that carried into October.
While diving local waters, he re-
covered a rare and highly coveted
1st American Regiment loyalist
button. This button is attributed to
the Queens Rangers (founded by
Robert Rogers) with this design
beginning in 1779. This button is a
rare find, not to mention the well-
preserved state that it is in. Short-
ly after, Dan was exploring a new
property and discovered a virtually
undisturbed Union camp.  Over
100 bullets were recovered along
with the US buckle with all its fastening hooks intact. To top that, on his final dive of the summer, in early
October, Dan recovered a beautiful 3” Hotchkiss percussion shell while diving with good friend Pete San-
tella.  The two discovered numerous fragments and artillery shells during the final two weeks of the dive
season. To top this, Dan was searching a camp which he has been to many times over and, while not ex-
pecting much, was blown away when he finally, after 30+ years, recovered his first gold coin.  This 1862
gold dollar is in immaculate condition. The camp dated to 1862 and there is little doubt, due to the good
detail on this coin, that it was lost shortly after being issued for payroll. During this period, Dan recovered
numerous other top finds, but these four certainly made the summer more memorable. Photos by Dan Frezza

In Their Own Words:
Just Dug with a Personal Touch

“I dug an incredible piece of American history [October 18, 2020] while
detecting with my friend Eric Rose in Laurens County, South Carolina. I
wasn’t sure exactly what it was at first; the word ‘Mechanic’ threw me off.
I posted it on a metal detecting Facebook page and went back to hunting.
Within minutes my phone went off with a barrage of notifications. I had dug
an 1857 Charleston, SC slave tag with my Garrett AT Pro. This is a highly
sought after relic, yet it carries such a sad story of our country’s history.
I also managed a 1908 Barber dime, a 1956 Rosie, a 1895 and 1906 In-
dian, and several other relics and coins. I’m proud to have dug this but you
have to wonder how it wound up 170 miles from Charleston so long ago.”
Tommy Elmore

January-February 2021 American Digger® 17

“I just got back from the beach metal “The attached eagle cavalry ‘C’ “On October
detecting on September 8, 2020. A button is not super rare but this 18th 2020 I
buddy and I were trying to find some- was a button I really wanted to was digging
one’s lost silver necklace for them dig. The 20-year wait was worth a field where
and no luck. But I did find something it and I was surprised when I an 1830s
pretty awesome; about a foot deep sprinkled some water on this house once
down in the sand, I dug up a jar. The button and saw the letter ‘C’ in the was. It was
jar had a two-dollar bill, seven dollars middle. It was found in Nashville, very trashy so I decided to put the
and 59 cents in change and a note. Tennessee, from the first day’s 5×8.5 coil on my Garrett AT Pro.
The note had a name, address and fighting, at a site I have deemed Immediately my separation was
an email. I sent a message to the the ‘Lost Plantation.’ It was found so much better. Then I got a deep
email address and am waiting for a in October 2020.” 80/81; when I dug the plug there
reply...” Tentis Moore Michael Sanderson at the bottom of the hole was this
wonderful 1876 Carson City dime. It
“On October 20, was the first Carson City coin I’ve dug
2020, while dig- here in central Alabama.” Brandon
ging in a field White (Alabama Dirt Digger)
where a one-
room school once “My first hunt with the new Garrett
sat [near May- Apex [September 2020] I found
ville Michigan], this cool Victorian gold wedding
I got a faint 78 band about four inches down. [It
signal on the was made by the JR Wood & Sons
Garrett AT Pro. Jewelry Company of Brooklyn,
About seven New York, est 1850.] It rang up in
inches down, I the fifties.  I found it at a friend’s
dug this beauti- property in Maine.” Clem Bechard
ful circa 1890s
British Royal
Navy brass but-
ton. The back-
mark reads ‘J.
R. Gaunt & Son
Ltd.’ Not more
than ten steps
away, I got a loud 80s signal and was surprised to dig this awesome
little buckle. After getting home and cleaning it lightly with a fiberglass
pencil, it turns out to be a brass ‘Solide of Paris’ buckle. After some in-
ternet research, it seems possible that it’s an 1870s waistcoat buckle.
I also dug an 1895 Indian Head cent nearby.” Doug Fox

18 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

“I dug this clear pint ‘L.Z. Foerster’ blob beer from Ypsilanti, Michigan with my “I got a Nokta Mini Hoard for my
buddy Ted. Ted informed me that this is the only clear blob pint ‘L.Z’ known four-year-old granddaughter Violet
to exist, as he is an expert in Ypsilanti bottles. [Also shown is a bottle I found] Lipari. I took her to her favorite
that reads ‘Awarded Gold Medal/Louisiana Purchase/Exposition 1904/ Pfeiffer park and showed her how to use
Bros./Louisville Kentucky Bottle.’ The bottle [once contained] J.B.T. whiskey, it. I let her loose and told her to go
and the award given was by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. [Both find something. She walked about
were] found on August 16th 2020 near Detroit, Michigan. [Then on October five feet and said,’Pop Pop, I got
11, 2020 near Detroit] I was detecting with my Garrett AT Pro when I found this a thumbs up!’ I dug a plug for her
relic. It is a 17th Auverge regiment, Revolutionary War-era French button... and handed her my pinpointer. She
made between 1782 and 1783 [for] a foot soldier’s jacket.” James Stottlemyer moved it around in the hole and
then said, ‘Here it is!’ She handed
me what looked like a dime; it sure
was but it was an 1875 Seated
dime. Amazing! This happened
at the end of October [2020] in
Woodbridge, New Jersey.”
Dan Jurgens

“I thought you might be interested in a find I made metal detecting [recently]. It
is a seated coin love token bracelet. It was found with a Garrett Ace 300 at a
small pond in Massachusetts. I've been detecting since February.” Keven Maliff

“While detecting a clear- “This piece was dug in Saunder-
cut site in Georgia a few stown, Rhode Island by me, aka
months back [mid-2020] ‘RI Relic Digger’ on October 3,
with my buddy, we found 2020. I posted it on [Facebook]
an early house site. My and was told it was a Victorian
first signal with my XP sash buckle. I dug it near a stone
Deus was this militia wall on a colonial farm. It is a very
officer’s rosette. [Then cool piece to add to my relic col-
in September] I was lection.” Alan Golder
detecting along a ridge overlooking a railroad in Georgia. When I began
hitting big iron and nails I knew I was in a house site. I slowed down and
dug the [Harrison Campaign] pin.” Ted Livingston

January-February 2021 American Digger® 19

“[In October 2020] I attended a group hunt on a farm in Culpeper,
Virginia. I had been to this same farm four years ago with another
group hunt.  There is a period colonial road that runs through this
property; [a run] transverses the farm and there is a ford that crosses
the run. The last time I was there, I wished I had my equipment to
search the water, as I felt there may be relics in there. When this
hunt was announced, I immediately signed up, with the water in mind.
When I got to the ford...I started swinging my machine in the water
and less than five minutes later, I had a solid ‘18’ [on my detector,]
which is a good number for Civil War bullets.  I scooped the signal
and had a nice, grey Confederate Gardner in my scoop. I rechecked
the area and had another ‘18,’ scooped, and up came three Gardner bullets. I repeated this, sometimes getting as
many as five at a time! 
“After about 30 minutes of digging bullets, others noticed I was in the same spot and saw me recovering the bullets,
and here they came, in the water with work boots, bare feet, blue jeans and so on. Others asked me to check signals
and help them identify bullet signals, and I would confirm it was a bullet. Some folks were able to recover bullets with
conventional shovels, but some I let borrow my scoop to recover their bullet. I probably helped 25 people get bullets,
all while still recovering more. Mixed in with the Gardners were some Georgia Teat bullets. I hadn’t taken anything into
the water to put relics in, so I was reaching into my waders and putting the bullets in my right front hip pocket. At one
point, my pants were so heavy with bullets they were falling off inside my waders. I had to get out of the water and take
them to my vehicle.  I had 82 Gardner bullets in my front pocket!  I went back in the water and a lady motioned me
over to her near the shore; she said she hadn’t found anything all day, and asked If I could help her find a bullet. So I
searched in the shallow water near her. Well it pays to be nice, because while searching for her a bullet, I recovered
two tokens, and got a nice ‘28’ signal, which was really exciting. I pulled up a canteen spout, with ‘Co. D’ stamped on it
and a name scratched into it!  I did locate a bullet and she was thrilled to have it.  Soon it was 5 p.m., the cut off time for
the hunt, I ended up with 92 Confederate bullets, the two tokens, and a canteen spout. Other folks also found a bunch
of Confederate bullets, an 1864 Indian Head cent, a carbine sling buckle, and a spoon from a folding Civil War period
‘multi tool.’ [This was part of a folding mess knife/spoon/fork combination].
“Saturday was a nice warm fall day with temps in the middle 70s; however that night, it rained and rained hard,
and temps fell into the 40s. I returned to the ford at 7:30 Sunday morning; it was 48 degrees and the water had risen
by about a foot and a half. A lot of folks that had planned to be in there had their hopes dashed. I went in anyway, as
I had the only long handled scoop there. ...after an hour I had a dozen Confederate bullets. One other brave soul had
been in there that whole time, but finally admitted defeat, and said ‘even if I found one I don’t think I could recover it,’
so I handed him a Gardner, and said ‘you earned it.’ I stayed in the water for another hour and found six more for a
total of 18 for Sunday, before the relentless rain, rising water and increasing current all led to me reluctantly leaving
one of my most memorable discoveries of my relic hunting career. My leaky waders and the cold water had my teeth
chattering and I was pretty near hypothermia, too. So I left the site, went and took a nice hot shower and began my
seven-hour trip home. I’m sure over 200 Confederate bullets were recovered from the ford. I’m not sure if a wagon
had lost a crate of bullets while crossing the ford, or if they were dumped intentionally for some reason. Either way, this
was an epic find from the Civil War! I’ve been on hunts where hundreds of three-ringers were found together in a hole,
but this was the first time I had seen hundreds of Confederate bullets recovered. My total was 89 two-ring Gardners,
and 21 Georgia Teat bullets, the canteen spout and two tokens from the water!” Stephen Stewart

20 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

“My brother and I took [our detectors] up into a very remote section of 
western New York.  The landowner we befriended noticed a pile of stones
out in his woods and concluded that they must be the remains of an old
foundation. He agreed to let us hunt there and told us to ‘have a good time.’
Because of the long distance from any known roads I was skeptical that
a building was once there. So after riding our UTV (we came prepared) a
long distance up a treacherous series of steep logging roads, we stopped
and hiked to the site and began detecting. At once we began finding an
assortment of stuff including the usual nails, a broad axe head, a pole axe
head  and a broken axe head, some horseshoes, a crosscut saw blade and
pieces of what appeared to be harmonica reed plates. As the afternoon wore
on, and the sun was setting, my brother got a ‘42’ on his machine. I got down
and began digging in the spot and about four inches down I found belt plate
number one. As it came out of the ground, we looked at the cast brass belt
plate in disbelief. Honestly, at the moment of discovery, we had no idea as
to what we had found. We examined the eagle, the thirteen stars and the
details of the plate and concluded it was some sort of belt buckle.  We had
no idea why this plate, which we were later told belonged to an army officer,
was in the middle of a western New York forest like this.  Ecstatic and energized, we continued to sweep the ground
and about two feet away from our original hole...another ‘42.’ Still thinking about the first belt plate I was amazed
to see a second pop out of the ground. The second one is thin brass, not cast, but was, like the first, in excellent
condition. After looking on the internet, we found the cast one to be a sword belt plate, worn on a belt that the sword
hung from. The second thin one seems too flimsy to be a belt plate, but [it turned out to be an 1850s militia plate].
I guess you never know what will come out of the ground!” Al  & Chuck Horning

“I found my first 1700 silver coin [a “[Shown are my recent] 1817 “On November 1st 2020, while
1775 reale in October 2020]. It was and 1818 U.S. large cents.  I dug detecting a farm field in Vermont,
about 4” deep and found with a XP my first large cent this weekend I dug my very first large cent fol-
Deus in Carroll County, Maryland. out in the Lowcountry of South lowed by eight more within a
I found the [1809 dime] at an old Carolina. We were finding flat 45-minute period: two 1796 Lib-
house site in Maryland, also with buttons on a site when I got an erty Caps, three Massachusetts
an XP Deus. It was about 6” deep. amazing ‘29’ deep signal. To my coppers, two 1797 Draped Bust,
Two old silvers in less than a week!” surprise it was my first large cent one Draped Bust (no date) and
Robert Devilbiss and a day I will never forget. Then an unidentified copper.”
the next day I got my second Shane Roya (Northeastern
and it feels like a dream. Both Booty Hunters)
were deep signals next to trees
and dug on October 30 and 31,
2020.” Andrew Engle

January-February 2021 American Digger® 21

“I was detecting a field in west Tennessee on Sept. 22, 2020. I was using my “Here are some items that I have
XP Deus and found a three-ringer Minié ball and an 1851 Seated half dime. I found this year with my Nokta
had found some eagle buttons here and several old flat buttons [previously]. I Makro Simplex. The first one is a
researched this area and found a place where [soldiers] stayed and probably #2 crotal bell with a horse and the
traveled through, going  to Kentucky. [Then on] 11/06/2020 I dug this officer’s name Weir stamped on the bottom.
sword belt buckle. I was detecting with my XP Deus in northwest Tennessee The second is an 1880s pocketknife
and [it was] my first buckle like this. I’m almost sure this was a location where the with solid brass scales. The final
soldiers camped. I have dug Minié balls and buttons at this location.” Jeff Kincade item is a cast iron train locomotive
from the turn of the century. Sadly,
“A one-hour hunt in the Lowcoun- it is missing the wheels and half of
try of South Carolina produced the cab. All of the items were found
this cast ‘I’ Confederate infantry between April and August 2020 [in
button, an 1864 two-cent piece, Michigan].” Joel Chandler
an 1867 Shield nickel, and a 1903
Indian Head cent. I made the finds
in October 2020.” Greg Toney

“I had the honor and pleasure of lit- “I was searching Lake Waxahachie, “I was hunting
erally rescuing history from destruc- Texas yesterday [September 2020] an early 1900s
tion in September 2020. My good along the bank on dry land where the homesite with
friend and digging partner Andrew water had receded. I dug a handle of my digging
Engle was able to secure permission some kind that read like a quarter. I partner Kevin
for a known C.S. camp that was be- got home and looked at it closer and Shifflett. The
ing cleared to be developed. I was almost fell out of my chair when I saw homeowner
able to find my very first Maynard ‘sterling!’ It is a silver cane handle. said that the property used to be a
bullet and casings [here]. I ended I figure an old fella’ was seining bait, Civil War camp but has been hunted
up finding 19 flat-nosed Maynards, leaned on the cane wrong and broke pretty hard. We decided to give it a
four pointed-nosed Maynards, four it. He flung it down and hobbled back shot and I am glad we did. My next
Colt bullets, a pistol ball, [numerous] to the car—maybe. Anyway, you don’t to last hole was one of the prettiest
Maynard casings and bottom discs, find these every day! [I also found the coins I have ever dug! It was a 1833
and a corroded general service but- cross which weighed nine grams.] The Capped Bust dime. This hunt was
ton.” Kevin Gabrus handle weighs 1.62 oz. ” Bob Turner September 24th [2020] in Dinwiddie,
Virginia.” Rocky Jarrells
22 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1




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January-February 2021 American Digger® 23

THE As any Civil War relic
FINAL hunter knows, finding one
COUNT? “CSA” buckle in a lifetime
Maybe is good. A few lucky souls
dig several of these rarities,
By Joe Haile usually over the course of
a few decades. But when a
detectorist discovers where
they were being made, all
bets are off as to how many

will be found.

Above, a worker pours molten metal from a crucible into molds, ca.
1916. On the opposite page, the CSA buckles that are believed to have
been made in a similar method at the site of a small blacksmith shop.

Some of you reading this will likely remember my find- and not have been found long ago. This is how I found it,
ing seven CSA rectangular buckles in an hour’s time although any good relic hunter would have checked it
back in the fall of 2009. The purpose of this story is immediately upon seeing it. It is on a large farm in an area
to update you on the current status of finds from that site known to have a number of camps. When I started hunting
and provide you with more detailed information as to what the property it was among one of the first places I had ever
I believe happened at that location. metal detected. As luck would have it, I approached it from
the farmhouse side. I spent over an hour hunting, dug many
The site itself consists of about 1/4 acre sitting on a hill pieces of trash, and gave up and moved on.
above a creek. To the side of the hill is a little spring that
runs down into the creek and served as a water source for A few hunts later I found a large U.S. camp on the farm
those living on the hill. During the time of the Civil War it and spent many days over the next months hunting it. I gave
appears that a small cabin that also served as a blacksmith relics to the property owners, their kids and grandkids. I
shop was at this location. Unfortunately after the war it was actually finally stopped hunting the property because I had
the location of a small farmhouse from around 1920 to the a friend from another state who, when he could visit me,
1940s. This dating is based on the items found from that era, wanted to dig some of the bullets I was finding.
which are numerous to say the least. Trash disposal for the
farmhouse appears to have been to open the window and __________
say, “Ma, I’m going to throw the trash out.”
“After stumbling into this 1/4 acre, this
My hunting partner David Brown and I have literally time from a different approach, in about
removed many thousands of pieces of trash from this small an hour I had found seven rectangular
site and many thousands of pieces are still left. The situation CSA plates. Many more were to come out
is further complicated by all the horseshoes and iron items
related to the blacksmith shop. Hence the “maybe” in the of the ground on subsequent trips.”
title. I have a hunch more buckles are hiding beneath the
multitude of ferrous targets.

Many have asked me how a site like this could still exist
24 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

24 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

January-February 2021 American Digger® 25

“The thing that helped convince me that A flaw in the bottom left hook of all the buckles appeared
they were sand cast by a blacksmith was to progress as the casting was done, suggesting that the
when I showed them to noted Confederate buckle shown on the top was used as the pattern.
buckle authority Steve Mullinax. He looked
them over, pulled out three of them, then ____________
pointed out a small casting flaw on the
first one. He picked up the second one and
showed me that the flaw was bigger on it

and even larger on the third one.”


On the day I found the first seven CSAs, I had no in-
tention of even hunting the site. I was going to de-
tect another farm in the area I had received permis-
sion to search months earlier but had not gotten around to
doing so. When I went up to the farmer’s door he informed
me that he had been thinking about our discussion that rel-
ics had been found in the area and had bought a metal de-
tector and was going to hunt the farm with his young son.
I told him that if they found they needed any help using or
understanding the machine to let me know and I would be
happy to help them. Then I left.

I now had no real idea where to detect and was mad at
myself for not having gone to the new permission sooner.
Little did I know that the usually dreaded answer of “No,
you cannot hunt here” would be the best thing that ever hap-
pened to me, as proven later that day. I rode around to a
number of farms and could not find anyone at home. Even
with standing permissions, I always advise a farmer when
I am going to be on their property. This keeps them from
having to come out to see who I am when a neighbor calls
and says there’s a guy in your back pasture digging holes.
Since none of these farmers seemed to be at home, I was
not feeling very positive for how the day was turning out.

These three Union plates (above) rounded out a total of
21 plates found within the 1/4 acre. It is possible that the
smith contracted to cast the CSA buckles used any scrap
brass he could find, including the brass skin from lead-
filled Yankee plates. Shown at the left are other brass
scraps from the site.

26 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

I finally decided to go back to the farm with the U.S. camp
mentioned earlier and just not hunt in the area I was saving
for my friend.
After stumbling into this 1/4 acre, this time from a dif-
ferent approach, in about an hour I had found seven rect-
angular CSA plates. Many more were to come out of the
ground on subsequent trips.
Noted author and Civil War relic authority Michael
O’Donnell believes that Southern arsenals subcontracted
some work that could be done by local shops and blacksmiths.
As it would be a fairly small jump for a blacksmith to expand
his talents to sand casting brass, it appears that these buckles
were made as part of a contract. It could be that the shop had
to be abandoned before the buckles could be delivered. Although not directly part of the CSA buckle hoard, this
Confederate Louisiana belt plate was also found on the site.
The thing that helped convince me that they were sand
cast by a blacksmith was when I showed them to not- It remains to be seen if more is to be found at this site.
ed Confederate buckle authority Steve Mullinax. He We are currently working on a magnet set up to remove
looked them over, pulled out three of them, then pointed all the little iron fragments that are so good at mask-
out a small casting flaw on the first one. He picked up the ing targets. We hope to do some serious digging at this little
second one and showed me that the flaw was bigger on it site later this fall. Even though this is a very small area it
and even larger on the third one. He explained that meant has proven us wrong when several times before we thought
the first one had been used as a pattern to cast the second nothing was left. Maybe there is more.
and the second had been used to cast the third, indicating a
small operation where each one made was used to make the
sand mold for the next one. I later found sheets of material
that were consistent with being used to melt and cast them.
We continued to hunt the site and later a picture of 11 Originally from South Carolina, Joe Haile first hunted for
Civil War relics on July 1, 1986. That hunt, on which he
CSA buckles appeared in this magazine, the total number found a pair of US accoutrement plates among other nice
found there at that time. Before it was over, an additional items, got him hooked. Since that day he has dug almost
seven were unearthed, making a current total of 18 as shown 200 plates, with 71 being Confederate.
on page 25. All but one, dug by David, were found by me.
Some say this must have been a
camp, but the total of our confirmed
Civil War finds were as follows: a fired Quartermaster General Relics
three-ring Minié, two general service
eagle buttons, a few pieces of broken
civilian spurs, and half of a Parrott/
Read shell. None of these were enough
to suggest any camp or even skirmish
line in the immediate area. The only
two confirmed camps on the property,
some distance away, were both U.S.

Our current total plate count for this
small section of property is as follows:

18- Rectangular solid cast “CSA” Specializing In Investment Grade Militaria
belt plates.
John Harris, proprietor
1- Louisiana state seal buckle
2- US oval plates in poor condi-
tion, missing the lead fill in the backs.
1- Eagle sling plate in poor 757-746-7567
January-February 2021 American Digger® 27


By Kip Davis

Mother of pearl
buttons were
very common
during the 19th
century. Here’s
the evidence of
how they were

28 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

Above, drilled freshwater mussel shells and buttons made from them. On the opposite page, undrilled
button blanks used as fill, mixed with dirt and gravel. All are well over one hundred years old.


In 2008, I was walking along an old gravel road on a factory that had sat near the White River in the early 20th
permission property in Woodruff County, Arkansas, century. Plugs had been drilled from the mussel shells and
watching the water level slowly go down. We had just sliced to make buttons.
experienced a 100-year flood and the water had been ex-
tremely high. “Mother of Pearl buttons were made and used before
there were plastic buttons,” the staff member told me. “There
Looking towards the receding water level along the used to be mounds of these shells when I was a kid. We would
road, I was startled to see several glowing flecks staring back all go down to the factory and play on them, sometimes even
at me from the dark soil. I walked over to see what they were finding a pearl or two. They took the mounds of shells and
and soon found myself faced with a “bank-climber,” a “pim- used them to pave old roads and alleyways, later on through
pleback,” a “heelsplitter,” a “giant floater” and a “pistol grip.” the years. That’s probably where these came from.”
No, this was not a vicious street gang, but very cool pieces of
history that were seeing the light of day after several decades As I studied more about the shells over the next few
underground—a variety of freshwater mussel shells. days, I learned that there was once a “pearl rush” in Arkan-
sas, much like the gold rush that had taken place in Califor-
As I studied the shells, I noticed something very differ- nia. The mussels were plentiful in the White and Black Riv-
ent about them. Each one had a perfect round hole drilled ers of Arkansas and it was a place where a poor individual
through it. A hole almost big enough to stick my finger could take a chance on striking it rich by finding fresh water
through. pearls. There were several different ways of gathering them.
One method of bringing the shells up was to use long-han-
I quickly began picking up a few clumps of the shells, dled tongs that could reach down about 14 feet.
and then hurried back to my office. As I showed them
around, one of the staff told me how the holes were formed Another method of bringing up the shells was to use crow-
in the shells. They were leftover shells from an old button foot drags. This was a series of wire hooks attached to a boat.

January-February 2021 American Digger® 29

Left, some shells only had one or two plugs removed before
they were discarded, as only a portion were suitable for
buttons. Above, a mix of buttons and blanks.


When the hooks were dragged through a mussel bed, the open on button-making during the late 19th and early 20th cen-
mussels would clamp down on the hook and could then be turies, and made a few contacts. I was surprised to learn that
brought to the surface. (I have often watched others, by acci- many of the museums and historical societies had very few
dent, catch them by splashing a limb about in the water and of the shells in their possession. The reason? At one time the
pulling up a mussel that happened to close on it.) mounds of shells were so massive that they became a nui-
At first, the pearl hunters discarded the mussel shells, sance. Many counties and cities in Arkansas began to use
thinking them to be worthless, them to pave roadbeds, park-
but a market was soon found for ing lots or to try to stabilize
them and before long they were In the first three years of ditches. Before long, the shells
shipping them to button factories were either covered with soil
around the State of Arkansas. button manufacturing in and grass or pounded to dust
by the tires of passing vehicles.
Over the next few days, Arkansas, sales were at That’s why it is not uncommon
I watched the water $1.5 million dollars. to find them in old roadbeds.
level on the property
go down, and more of the holey I asked several of the muse-
ums if they would like to have a
shells begin to surface in clumps and clusters. I gathered collection of the shells to display and got an overwhelming
them up and began taking them home and cleaning them. response of “Yes!” So, I was soon traveling to small river
I noticed right away that there were different varieties of towns around Arkansas, giving them donations of holey
mussels. Some were long and smooth, some were bumpy shells, which was really cool, because I got a great tour of
with ridges and many were even shaped like the handles on each museum I visited. I had some amazing, very knowl-
a pistol (the “pistol grip” mussels). edgeable tour guides, and I learned a lot about the button-
I researched our state, and the areas that once thrived making process.

30 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

For several days, after my
lunch break, I came back
to my office with heavy,
dusty shirt pockets full of

button plugs.

In the first three years of button manu- my collection of holey shells.
facturing in Arkansas, sales were at $1.5 Although once considered no more than gravel or fill,
million dollars. Over-harvesting, flood-
ing, and the changing economy led to the de- the shells and buttons have become conversation pieces. I
mise of the pearling and button-making in- bet you can guess at the first question I receive when I get
dustries by the mid-to-late 1940s, and with them out to show people. It is, “How did those shells get
the new production of plastic buttons, the those holes in them?” I love that question because I al-
Arkansas shelling industry came to a close. ways get to share an important part of history with them.

I saved a few of the more unique shells Should you ever come upon some holey shells, while
and button plugs for my small collection. looking through one of your permission sites, they could
Over the years, I would get them out and make for interesting collection pieces. Who knows, you
sometimes talk to a class about how they may find yourself face to face with a “pink pigtoe,” a “rab-
were made, and pass them around. The state bit’s foot,” a “heelsplitter,” a “ridgeback” or a “pistol grip.”
also helped develop a history walk, in which Don’t worry, though. They won’t hurt you; they are all
we would talk to the tour about pearling, cool pieces of our local and national history.
button-making and the factories that once
existed. Kip Davis is the president of the Woodruff County Historical
Society, an avid treasure hunter and family man. He
Recently, I began working in another old river town enjoys metal detecting, historical research and visiting old
that once thrived on pearling and button-making as well: cemeteries. You can reach him at [email protected]
Newport, Arkansas, in Jackson County. There are many or via Facebook.
old historic buildings and homes around the area. These
are places that really interest me and make me curious January-February 2021 American Digger® 31
about their pasts.

I often go for a walk along a property I obtained
permission to, during my lunch hour, looking for coins,
marbles and anything shiny. After a recent heavy rain,
I spotted something now very familiar to me glistening
in the noonday sun: the glow of mother of pearl. I knew
right away that history was once again revealing itself to
me. There at the edge of a gravel parking lot were hand-
fuls of small, round button plugs that had been discarded
many years ago and buried beneath the dirt. I quickly
began picking them up and placing them in my pocket.
I noticed several people, also on their lunch breaks, look-
ing at me with expressions that read, “What is this ma-
niac picking up?” I didn’t care, though, I was extremely
excited, the kind of excitement that all treasure hunters
feel when they know they’ve found something awesome.
There was no doubt that these button plugs had been
used as gravel, many years ago.

For several days, after my lunch break, I came back
to my office with heavy, dusty shirt pockets full of button
plugs. I couldn’t wait to clean them up and add them to


by John Daniel Langley

How many of us who detect and dig relics, One particular relic comes to mind, a Civil War-era
have on occasion found a part or half of an pocket watch “center piece” with a winding stem
artifact and perhaps hours, days, months, that my digging buddy Ray found some years ago.
or even years later while hunting that same A few months later, I would find the decorative back, and
site have discovered that missing half, part, front rim to complete the shell (no internal parts). When
or another piece to the relic? I have a few we first realized they could be parts to the same watch, we
times done just that... checked the fit and found that they were. Since Ray found
his part first I gave him the others, so that the relic would
remain as complete as possible.

Another time I found the front half of an early padlock
with a very nice escutcheon attached, and weeks later in

32 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

Left: Although flat buttons
are not generally a com-
mon find at locations
in the author’s area of
Georgia, they were abun-
dant on Veteran’s Hill.
Below are some of the
other finds from the site,
including a sword blade
and odd gunlock assembly.
Interestingly, the blade has
an anchor stamped into

both sides

the same area (about four to five feet away) I
dug the back half. How do I know it was that
distance away? Well, if possible, I always stack
two rocks, (one on top of the other) above the
hole in which a significant coin or relic is dug,
to create a reference point. Not all sites will
permit this, but when I can put this tool to
work, I will. Doing this continually benefits
me and others who hunt there with me. In
this way, as relics are dug and their locations
are revealed, they can show hot spots or other
relationships between the relics. Sometimes
the relationships in distance between two
items is just the clue needed to decide the next
grid path. We spread out and began detecting, with a light rain
It was Friday, May 5th 2017 at 6 o’clock in the evening, falling on us. I noticed at first that I wasn’t getting any
when Ray Newberry, my main digging partner of over 10 targets, and I don’t think my friends were, either. But then
years, introduced me to Ricky Ricky dug a cuff-size flat button,
Frost, a new friend and digging and 20 minutes later I dug a
partner he had recently met. We coat-size flat button that had a
then entered the woods and were backmark.
on our way to what was described But I didn’t stop to look at my
as another “old house site.” Ray find at the time. A little while later
and Ricky had been there a time or the rain increased, and as we were
two before, and Ray told me that now getting too wet, we all head-
in one of the chimney piles he had ed out. As we hadn’t found much,
dug an old iron used for clothing. we didn’t make plans to return
Now we were all about to check right away. But I made a mental
it out. In 15 minutes we were at note to come back at some point.
the chimneys. It occurred to me Thinking it could possibly have a
on this first trip that the structure Both halves of this mid-19th century padlock were connection with an early town-
was built on the top and center of found weeks apart, even though the pieces lay ship called Bullsboro, established
a narrow ridge that would have within five feet of each other. At the top of the pre- in 1826—the county seat that pre-
commanded quite a view back in vious page, Ray Newberry and the author reunite dates Newnan (the town I live in)
the day. a broken spur, also shown in the large grouping of by two years.
Veteran’s Hill recoveries.

January-February 2021 American Digger® 33

had a feeling the site may have been the location of Several of the mid-1800s eating utensils found on
something special, because it was on that ridge with Veteran’s Hill still had their wood and bone handles intact.

Ia possible long range view, it had those flat buttons, ____________

and it was connected to an early road that passes by other After this hunt I began recording the finds on
house sites which have given up a few flat buttons and a calendar. So on this October 22nd I spent a
other early relics. few hours at the site, branching out in what I
suspected would have been the left side of the yard, in
All of these house sites are located in wooded areas, a ground cover of muscadine vines. Here I dug a two-
long overgrown, and with only wells and rock chimney piece button that has a grape leaf on it and backmarked
piles to help locate them. Some years earlier at one of “Scovills Extra Superfine,” which dates to between 1827
these sites Ray turned up a few flintlock gun parts; at and 1840. It has a good deal of gold (gilt) left on it. I
another one he dug a solid shot cannonball. At this same also dug a five-hole button, with one hole at dead center,
site Ricky also located a .65 caliber Hanoverian bullet which looks odd. I stayed in this area but these were the
mold (pictured in American Digger® magazine, Vol. 13, only finds for the day.
Issue 6, page 21).
I returned on November 4th, alone, as Ray and Ricky
For the next several months we all hunted in other were detecting with other friends of ours on other sites.
counties or in other parts of this county, and never really That was cool, and I kept them up to date with the finds
planed a return trip. In early October 2017, after one of I made. I started in the left side again, more to the front
our permissions where I had most recently been detecting at a point where the grade started downward slightly, and
ran out, I was leaving work with the thought that I might while still in the muscadine vines I got a hit! Digging
try the site again. It had now been five months since down six inches I located another two-piece button with
that first day there in the rain. On this evening I found the same grape leaf; it was not as nice as the first with
another coat-size flat button with a backmark consisting all the gilt, but still a good find. It was roughly 50 feet
of a shield design around the shank and quartered with from the first one I had dug. After a photo or two and
what I think is a lion in the upper left, a unicorn in the placing a couple of rocks on top of the dig site, I moved
upper right, a harp in the lower left, and three lions in a on. Eight feet away I got another hit, and digging down
vertical row in the lower left quarter. This makes it, I’m four inches I found a two-piece cuff-size button on which
pretty sure, a British button. could already see an eagle. It turned out to be an eagle
“I” with the backmark “Y. SMITH & Co. *NEW YORK”
This button was all I found that evening; once again , circa 1840s. I then dug a large musket ball, a length of
the targets were not coming forth. I started asking myself chain which looks like the kind I have seen attached to a
about this place. What had been here? If it was a house, horse’s bit, a one-note music reed and, on my way out, my
surely they farmed, so where were the plow points, the first piece of dish shard, in the side wall of the well. It was
horseshoes, the wagon parts, hoes and other farming marked “BLUE FEATHER EDGED.”
implements? I’d found none yet. But then again, this was
only my second trip here, with a total of less than four After a good rain I was back at the site on November
hours on the site, not counting Ray and Ricky’s time. 11th, Veterans Day. Before I go any further, let me give
a big shout-out to our veterans! This would be an epic
This musket lock assembly is an attempt to convert a day of detecting for me. I started back in the grapevines,
flintlock to a percussion by fashioning a new hammer. By where there may very well have once been a small cabin
the shape of the of the lock plate it appears to have started or other building here, for there were many rocks close

life as an early Springfield or Harper’s Ferry musket.
34 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

by, in sufficient quantities to have been Fresh out of the dirt: a 1776
a chimney. My first target was an outer Spanish half-reale and a gold-
wreath part to a small brass sash buckle. en-age grape cluster button.
Next came a man’s brass wedding band, Looks can be deceiving: the
different from others I have found in same button after light cleaning
that it contains a shining glitter of gold is shown below.
cross section, where the ring was resized
and gold used to reconnect the brass. ____________

After searching that area a while re-name the site Veteran’s Hill.
more I moved on towards the back- My mind started racing: was the site trying to tell
side of the ruins, on a downhill slope
to the edge of a logging road, cut some me something? Was the last person to have this coin
time ago, about 50 yards from the main a Revolutionary War veteran who wore it? Perhaps a
house. I dug here a small two-reed music veteran lived there or passed through there, which I could
device. This relic changed my direction, never prove. I don’t totally disagree with the thinking
which led me on a trail to all the others that coins were strung up for safe keeping, but I also
I would find this day. These included the believe that some were worn for different reasons. One
very next, 40 feet away in the middle of reason may be that the year on the coin was a reminder to
that road. Here I got a hit and felt real the bearer of some special event, perhaps a birth year, a
good that it could be a coin, but never marriage, or many other events—including possibly our
thought it could be a half-reale, which is independence from Britain. I could never prove that it
what it turned out to be after I rinsed it off. It was holed, was used for this purpose, but the hole, being well worn,
and dated 1776, the year of our nation’s birth, the year we shows evidence of it being strung this way for some time.
declared independence from tyranny, which we eventually
won by hard-fought victories gained by our first veterans. Due to the coincidence between the year on the coin,
Now, how cool is that to find on Veterans Day? how it relates to our independence, and it being
Veterans Day, how could one not think about these
Because of this coin’s discovery I started calling the first veterans and how one or many might wear a coin like
site Spanish Hill, but while writing the story I started this as a reminder of that occasion? It made the hair on the
thinking about the year’s significance and was inspired to back of my neck stand up. So why a Spanish coin? The U.S.
Mint had not been established yet, so coins of that date for
America didn’t exist. The silver reales were readily available
and legal currency in the new world.

After I found the coin, I celebrated with many pictures,
placed my rocks and relished the moments. Next I dug a
blacksmith-made tanged knife, a pocket watch faceplate, a
padlock keyhole cover and three flat buttons. The keyhole
cover was marked “V.R.” with a crown above, the first flat
button marked “WARRANTED BEST QUALITY” with a
sunburst design from center outwards, the second flat button
was not marked and the third was marked with “TREBLE
GILT.” This concluded my relic finds for November 11th

January-February 2021 American Digger® 35

Back to the keyhole cover: the V.R. with crown stands
for Victoria Regina (Queen Victoria). Since she
reigned to the turn of the century, I thought this
was the first relic from the late 1800s. At first I felt a bit
disappointed after finding this relic, as I figured that this
site may have lasted into the 1880s, ‘90s, or even turn of the

After nearly 200 years, the two halves of a broken civilian
style riding spur were reunited. At the top of the page are
some of the many pre Civil War-era china shards recovered

from a trash pit on the hill.

The keyhole cover in the top center of this photo, marked century. But as research shows, she came to power in 1837,
“V.R.” with a crown, dates this artifact as being made during which made me feel great. This put my developing theory
that this was a pre Civil War-era site back on track. You
her reign, which lasted from 1837-1901. see, all the relics found there so far date between the 1790s
36 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1 to 1850s, with a majority from 1820s to 1840s. I suspect
the keyhole cover was brought on to the site during the
early part of the Queen’s reign.

After over 150 years in the ground, 35 The mystery item in the top photo was later identified
feet apart, two relics, discovered by as being from a 19th century shot pouch. A non-dug ex-
two relic hunters in two minutes, were ample is shown below it. Non-dug example courtesy of www.

reunited in a single afternoon.
After I found the half-reale, Ray and Ricky want-
ed to meet at the site two days later after work to This story is my thank you to Ray Newberry for
detect some. Remember how this story started? sharing the site with me. He and Ricky Frost are
How parts of relics lost in times past can be reunited? both very successful and talented detectorists with
Well, we all arrived and began detecting. I located a few numerous great and historical finds under their belts.
dish shards in my first couple of targets and began dig-
ging out what would turn out to be a trash pit (this took John Daniel Langley resides in Coweta County, Georgia
many trips that followed this day). As I was working at where the relics in this article were recovered. Aside from
this location, Ray was below me some 35 feet away, and metal detecting, he also enjoys collecting coins, stamps,
called out to us about his finding half of an early civil- pocket knives, Indian artifacts, books, and fishing memora-
ian spur. We all huddled to view and take pictures at the bilia. His love for history and learning from it is the driving
dig site. force behind his collecting.

After high fives and congratulations I was back on
my new trash pit and passed my detector above and
to the right of it, where I received a great high tone. I
dug down and retrieved, amazingly, another half of a
spur. I called out to Ray, “Bring the piece you just found
over here!” We paired the two together, and they were
a perfect match. After over 150 years in the ground,
35 feet apart, two broken pieces, discovered by two
relic hunters in two minutes, were reunited in a single
afternoon. Ray very generously gave his half to me,
which I now proudly display with all my other relics
from the site. Since then I have dug out the pit, finding
many other amazing relics. Only 50 feet away from the
first, I dug a second half-reale (1782) and my first large
cent (1817). As I dug this coin in 2017, it was exactly
200 years old at the time.

I am now researching this site, hoping to identify
what exactly was here. All relics to date are pre-Civil
War era. The trash pit also held buttons, eating utensils,
a partial pipe bowl, an unidentified sword blade with a
crude anchor mark on both sides and many, many dish

Federation of Metal Detector
and Archaeological Clubs Inc.

Promoting and protecting the metal
detecting hobby since 1984

Join us - The hobby you save will be your own!
Visit us at and on Facebook.

Mark Schuessler – National President
[email protected] or call (585) 591-0010

January-February 2021 American Digger® 37

You Found It –
Now Show It!

Finding and preserving the artifacts is just
half of the job. Here is the rest of the story.

By Mark Schuessler

_________________ A cheap china cabinet makes a great place to store and sort
items not yet on full display. However, to show history and finds
You’ve done your research, ventured to the site, gained in the best possible light, nothing beats a well-thought-out and
permission and commenced the search. The endeavor informative display, as seen in the bottom left of this page.
was a success. Among the take were a few nice coins
and an eye-popping relic or two. Now that you have them in ________________
your possession you will want to show them to the world. How
do you do that with a professional look on a shoestring budget? Not only should you learn about the items you dug, but oth-
ers should learn about them, as well. If you are like most of us
It is actually quite easy, as you will see. The first step is to you enjoy showing off your finds. There are ways to make at-
clean the items and remove what may be a century or two of tractive displays that do not require hiring a professional. You
ground crud. There are many ways to do this, depending on the can create some impressive-looking displays on the cheap for
material, ground conditions, and degree of corrosion. Remem- both your home and public display.
ber this one statement: do not overclean the item. Stop short of
where you think “clean” should be. You can always go forward, First, let’s talk about large items that will not fit in the small-
but you can never undo the cleaning procedure. This advice er compact “Riker” cases. There are a variety of wood and metal
comes to you from my many decades of cleaning dug items. cases out there for purchase. Some are cheap and some are pric-
ey, and selecting one all depends on your taste and budget. I
One of the first things you may need to undertake is artifact prefer to make my own but not everyone has that option. A tip
identification. Identification and research are not just a chal- here whenever transporting these cases, if the items are loose,
lenge, but are a very fulfilling effort when you are able to learn is to put some bubble wrap, or some kind of packing material
from your relic. This is part of what this hobby is all about; not or foam on top of the items to keep them in place during trans-
just finding and touching history but learning about the history port. It is very aggravating to start setting up a display and have
you have uncovered, and teaching others. to rearrange every item in the case.

38 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1 You may also wish to place some padding and/or color
ed background on the bottom. This makes for a more eye-ap-
pealing display than looking at a bare case bottom. Felt can be
purchased in small pieces or larger amounts at a fabric store. T-
shirts from thrift stores are also a good source of various fabrics
and colors.

Generally speaking, you will want to label some of the
items in all your displays. Some relics are self-explanato-
ry, but many are not. Some may have interesting or local
historical significance that should be pointed out. You may have
an item with a story to tell. If you just place it in a case with no
label or context then those looking at it may just pass it by, having
no idea what they are looking at. A label here and there will get
their attention.

Labeling also adds a level of professionalism to the display.
People are seeing that, by your actions, you are not only
recovering history but teaching history. Feel free to elaborate on
some items with a sentence or two. Do not get long-winded or
people may not read it all. You want to draw their attention but

Creative matting displayed with pertinent information can
transform an unadorned Riker case into an attractive display.


#1- Cut paper to fit in case. #2- Lay out artifacts to not overwhelm them. Keep it interesting and to the point.
A paper cutter is helpful create a template. Your labels should look professional, which is very easy to

#3-Check the cutouts for #4- Cut out the openings accomplish on a computer with an endless choice of fonts and
visual appearance. in the colored paper sizes. All it takes is to print and cut them to fit. Keep the fonts
simple so they’re easy to read; if the text is too hard to read then
#5- Check the fit of the mat. #6- Create mat highlighting. no one will bother reading it. Use a straight edge or a paper cut-
Even without a mat cutter, ter to make the cuts or for a more random look use scissors to
there are ways to accomplish #6- The completed case. make uneven cuts or even burn the edges a bit. It is all about eye
a similar look, as shown in appeal.
this series of photographs.
Such attention to detail can The most popular ways to house and display smaller items
make a display come alive. is with Riker mounts/cases. These are the black cardboard glass-
topped cases filled with batting. The items are held in place by
pressure from the top that is secured by pins. They are very
handy for most thin items and are available in one and two-inch
thickness in a variety of sizes. The most common for displays are
8” x 12” and 12” x 16”.

The easiest way to use Riker cases is to simply place the
items in the case as is, letting them lie on the white cottony back-
ground. I prefer a little more color, so back to the felt or fabric.
You can cover a lot of cases with a few T-shirts. I have a pile of
various colors of felt and T-shirts. Pick a color that compliments
the artifacts.

The next step up is to use a mat. The snag is that these cases
are not a standard picture frame size. You can have some made at
a craft/framing store but that option could get expensive. Maybe
you know someone who has a mat cutter that you could borrow.
I happened to be at an auction a few years back and spotted one
among a table full of stuff. The whole table was sold for $10, and
the buyer only wanted $3 for the mat cutter! Mat board is avail-
able in large pieces and reasonably priced. Having a mat cutter
is the exception, but ask around in your circle of friends and ac-
quaintances. You might be surprised to learn who has one.

So you have asked everyone you know about a mat cutter
and came up empty. No worries. There is another way to accom-
plish it. First, make a template by laying a piece of paper in the
box. On top of the paper lay out your finds as you want them in

January-February 2021 American Digger® 39

There is much more to be learned from a labeled case or artifacts than random groupings with no information or provenance noted.

the case. Include room for any labels. Now sketch a box around while others may sink as the batting takes on a memory over
all the finds or make individual boxes around each one. Remove time. When this happens you need to put in a little more batting
the paper and use a straight edge to redraw the boxes and square underneath the offender. Sometimes a piece of corrugated card-
them up. Next use a razor knife to cut out the boxes. Put the pa- board will do the trick.
per back in the box along with the artifacts and close the cover. What you are doing by creating these displays is giving life
Check it out for appearance. If you like what you see then you’re back to the relics. You are taking items that otherwise may ap-
ready for the next step. pear mundane and uninteresting and telling a story with them,
If you have a mat cutter available, this is your template. If teaching history through your relics. I will attribute the saying
you don’t have that luxury, then trace the template onto a piece of of “giving the relics life” to a fellow club member of the Genesee
colored heavy paper or even thin poster board. You can find the Valley Treasure Seekers in Rochester, New York. Steve Arm-
paper at craft stores. Look in the scrapbooking section. The col- strong made that statement when I did a talk on displaying relics
ors and designs are endless. I go for the bargain bin. You do not and it really hit the nail on the head.
need anything expensive, nor do you want something elaborate. When deciding what your displays should look like, think
You merely want to highlight the artifacts, not the mat. of what you enjoy looking at. What draws your attention? What
Make sure you trace in the proper orientation or you may holds your attention? A good eye-catching display will draw at-
end up with a mirror image of what you intended. Also trace on tention. A brief but interesting label will hold that attention. That
the backside of your mat. That way the excess pencil lines will is what you should strive to accomplish.
not show up. Once again, use a razor knife and a straight edge Labeling should be for the most part brief. If you have a
for the cuts. case that holds items that are related, then a little more expla-
Mats have two colors: the main nation is necessary to complete the
color and the thin highlight color story or historical reference. Imagine
(usually white). On the backside of that you are looking at a display. If
your “mat,” tape strips at the edges there are a bunch of items laying on
of each opening. Or, if you want, a table or in a case you will maybe
you can cut an opening slightly give just a brief and cursory look. If
smaller in a piece of paper and tape there is some labeling here and there
one piece instead of using individual you will center on those items. For
strips. Now place your background example, railroad baggage tags are
color or colors in the box, print the virtually unknown items to the aver-
labels, close the box, and pin it. You age person. If they are just lying in a
have created a professional looking case they will be looked right over as
display that no one, unless they’re just a metal tag of some sort. With
looking really close, will be able to a brief explanation they become an
tell is not really a cut mat. interesting artifact and an attention
A tip when using Riker cases is These custom cabinets for holding Riker cases getter, especially if they pertain to a
were built by the author. It is important to label each local railroad.
that some items may slide around case to make selection easier when showing them.

40 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

f you have been around the hobby
awhile then you probably already

Ihave a bunch of Riker cases. They are
stored in boxes or maybe just sitting in
stacks. When you want a particular case
you have to look through them until you
find the right one. Use a label maker to
put a label on the edge of each case. La-
bel makers are readily available and inex-
pensive. You don’t need a fancy one but
be certain to check the refill cost as some
are ridiculously expensive.
Now you are able to find the case
you want by looking at the edges. The These two attractive and informative displays were made by author
problem is they are still in stacks or box- Mark Schuessler for the historical house at his local county fair.

es. That is why I decided to rectify that
situation with some custom cheap. Various internet mar-
built cabinets. Now I can grab ketplace sites are also a good
whatever case wanted without place to watch.
having to dig through stacks One idea you may not
or boxes. have considered are old tool
If you are looking to house boxes. When I was working on
your entire displays there are the “bench” years back I had
opportunities available if you two wood boxes. Now most of
keep your eyes open and get my time is spent in front of a
inventive. Old china and cu- computer (doing what I used
rio cabinets make great dis- to do with my hands) so the
plays. They don’t have to look toolboxes are at home. The
new. A little bit of distress tools were combined into one
adds to the decorum. Look and the other is used for dis-
in thrift stores or even on the play. I have a second smaller
roadside on trash days. If you At the very least, coins should be put into coin sleeves one that has not been put to
keep an eye out you may even and then put into a Riker case. This is especially true of use yet, as it was recently ac-
run across some free-stand- high quality or scarce pieces. quired from a deceased elder-
ing commercial displays for ________________ ly family member.

Purchasing an old tool
box could be costly. But even an old metal mechanic’s tool
chest from a flea market or garage sale will work fine. How
about using jewelry cabinets and chests? They can also be
found secondhand.
Displaying coins is a challenge. With most displays
you can only see one side of the coin or token unless you
have it in a 2” x 2” holder or in a binder, in which case it is
accessible to the onlooker and also accessible to being lost
to an unscrupulous person. Holders and binders are fine
for home display but not for any public setting.
Years ago I was asked to put on a public display where
I would not be able to tend to it closely. I came up with a
method of displaying coins that shows both sides of the
coin but protects them from being touched or stolen. A bit
of thought and some scrap wood produced a frame that
would do the trick. I refined it and made more that are not
Always keep an eye out for old store fixtures and such that could as crude as the first. Many fine-threaded machine screws
be used for displays. This one, which houses part of the author’s hold it together so no one can get a coin out. This frame
Matchbox toy collection, was given to him for free just by his can be leaned, set on a stand or even hung on a wall.
being in the right place at the right time.

January-February 2021 American Digger® 41

By putting these coins between two plates of Plexiglas secured with a frame, both sides are easily displayed without having
to remove them. However, the frame is secured with screws to facilitate adding or removing coins as needed.


Abox of crotal bells is just begging to be displayed and melamine board (that’s what cheap furniture is made of). I
that is quite easily done with an old leather belt. These added a photo of a Civil War soldier, along with descriptions,
were originally attached to a long leather strap, so why and then covered it all with Plexiglas. All materials were scraps
not display then in their native light? If you do not have an old from work. The displays were placed in a different area of the
belt then start looking at flea markets, lawn sales and thrift building from where the artifacts originally rested. When I
stores. Mine is an old detecting belt. It no longer fits as I am went through the building at the next fair the manager pulled
certain that it got wet too many times and shrunk. That’s my me aside and told me I won Best of Show! The judges for the
story and I am sticking to it! historical entries thought it was an entry, and had pinned the
This method is for the cast bells that have a tab with a hole. ribbon on it before they discovered otherwise. No, I did not get
Use a razor knife to cut a rect- to keep the ribbon.
angle in the belt the size of the The bottom line to all this
tab. Make it a tight fit and it will is that you have invested a lot of
help hold it. Cut up a popsicle time, money and effort into lo-
stick into slight wedge shapes, cating your artifacts. Don’t just
¾ to an inch long. Push them leave them lying around in box-
into the hole in the tab. As long es. Show them off in an appeal-
as it is tight it will now hold it ing presentation. Furthermore,
well enough for display and a a properly labeled display will
little jingling, too. Space them lend some provenance to your
out and leave some room in be- finds. Many organizations are
tween for future finds. This is interested in hearing about our
one display that you can leave hobby. I have done talks for his-
hanging around. Crotal bells are easy to display with a torical societies, youth groups,
leather strap, replicating their original use.
A number of years back I ________________ genealogical groups, collector

was at our county fair in the his- clubs, senior citizens, Kiwanis,
torical house. There had always been, in that building, some and so on. I have also displayed items in cases in libraries and
Civil War items haphazardly displayed. A cannonball that town halls. This is great PR for the hobby. A great byproduct is
I thought was solid had rolled. I saw a fuse and no drill hole. that properly displayed artifacts can open up opportunities to
I alerted the building manager and after a discussion I said I search new properties.
would take care of it, and, along with some help from a collec-
tor of antique artillery, it was disarmed. I went a step further
and made a display for the cannonball, along with a box plate, Among his many accomplishments, longtime detectorist
belt plate and breastplate that had originally just been tossed in and collector Mark Schuessler is a columnist in American
the case. Digger® magazine, a partner in American Digger® Events,
The cannonball base was done with lathe-turned scrap and president of the FMDAC (Federation of Metal Detector
wood. The plate display was made by routing a pocket in white and Archaeological Clubs).

42 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

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January-February 2021 American Digger® 43

Tennessee (points) fairly often. When Old Hickory Dam in Nashville
Creek Bank replaced the old system of locks in 1957, the government
purchased our river bottom as a potential flood plain. On
Artifacts the top of the bluff above the bottom, there was what peo-
ple called the “Indian Graveyard,” with rock-lined graves.
By Quindy D. Robertson The size of the graves always looked small to me. When I
was employed in a work-study program with the Univer-
Having grown up on a farm in a bend of the Cum- sity of Tennessee Agricultural Extension service in 1968, a
berland River in Tennessee, finding Native Amer- UT agronomy professor visiting our county indicated an
ican artifacts was a common occurrence. I later interest in seeing the graves and went with me to the grave-
learned in Tennessee history class that many Native Amer- yard on the bluff. An amateur archaeologist, he identified
icans used Middle Tennessee as a hunting ground. Part of the graves as being from the Woodland period, which runs
our farm consisted of a 20-acre river bottom area, and I from 1,300-3,000 years B.P. (before present time).
am old enough to recall the river bottom being cultivated
by mules before we had a tractor. Corn was raised there In Tennessee, agricultural methods have changed con-
each year. My father would come home with arrowheads siderably during the last several years. The government
44 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1 buyout of Burley Tobacco acreage (compensating farm-
ers to cease raising tobacco and eliminating government-
sponsored market price supports) has minimized many
acres of land where the soil was deep plowed each year.
The practice of no-till farming for corn and soybean is now
widely used because of less fuel cost and wear and tear on
farm equipment. To effectively surface hunt for artifacts,
the land must be deep plowed, disked to break up the
clods, and dragged down level. After a hard rain, the flint
artifacts are then visible.

(Above photo) This is the way Iwould estimate that over 95% of potential artifact sites
this point looked when Quindy available for hunting Native American artifacts in the
first spotted it. Most of the time early 1990s are not plowed these days. As a caveat of
a point found like this is badly this, the Civil War relics readily visible during cultivation by
broken when pulled from the farmers and the information conveyed by farmers to relic
tilled soil. But when this one was hunters has greatly decreased as well.
removed, it proved to be a nearly
2½ inch long (right photo) Motley During the spring of 2019, I spotted a field that appeared
point in decent condition. At the to be deep disked where a tobacco crop was to be raised. I had
top of the page are some of the discovered a Civil War picket camp on the large property in the
many stone tools the author has late ‘90s and still had permission to hunt the land from the cur-
recovered from the site. rent landowners and a friend who leases the farm for his cattle

The site was on a high location above a creek that flowed
all year. The soil was good, with very little rock. As I recall, the
land was being used for a cattle pasture in past years. The sod
had not been turned for over thirty years or more. In our area,
Native Americans, Civil War soldiers, and World War II U. S.
Army soldiers on training maneuvers were all seeking the same
camping location—a high spot where they can see an enemy ap-
proaching, be safe from flash flooding, and have a good source
of clean water nearby.

I checked the field just after it was disked. There was a limited
amount of flint chips visible on the dry ground. I did not see any
evidence of chert material. I knew that a hard rain would expose
more flint artifacts. A few days later, that hard rain came. My
first-ever hunt at the creek site produced a few small Woodland

January-February 2021 American Digger® 45

Finds from one of the author’s hunts in May 2020. Note the geode (top) with a hole in it from
the site. These are frequent finds in Native American sites in middle Tennessee.

points (some had broken tips and bases), pre-forms (flint were used on arrows, bows were not introduced to North
artifacts that were a work in progress), and scrapers used America until 500 BC, as I understand from friends who
to scrape hides. It’s rare that we find stone celts or ax heads have much more experience and knowledge concerning
around here. It’s probable that early farmers saw those tools Native American artifacts than I do.
when plowing the fields with horses or mules and carried
those artifacts home with them. The age of the artifacts in Another artifact from the site
that site ranged from the Woodland to late Archaic periods. found exposed on a dirt clod.
None of the highly desirable Paleo artifacts were recovered
there. A friend who has recovered a lot of Paleo artifacts
did say that a few of the scrapers could be traced back to
the Paleo period (over 10,000 years before present time) but
their exact age is hard to ascertain, as Native Americans
used stone scrapers for thousands of years

If you have ever hunted Native American artifacts, you
know that finding a perfect point vs. pieces of points these
days is a treat. Modern farm equipment is more likely to
damage artifacts due to the speed and equipment weight
as compared to plowing with horses or mules. The larger
artifacts are especially vulnerable to being damaged. Some
types of modern farm equipment, I’m told, effectively pul-
verize the soil and have no mercy on flint artifacts.

Most people in our area label a pointed stone artifact
as an “arrowhead.” Actually, those over about three inches
in length were used on a throwing stick called an atlatl. Al-
though I have been told that the smaller and shorter points
46 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

Three generations of family share their
love of arrowhead hunting. Quindy’s
oldest granddaughter Morgan, age 8,
accompanied the author on his second
hunt in 2020 and found these beauties.
She has always liked “rocks” since she
was old enough to walk. Also shown is
the author’s son and Morgan’s father
Jared, who frequently hunted Native
American artifacts with his dad during
his early years The photo at the left
shows patriarch Quindy Robertson with
one of the points he found at the site.

As the tobacco plants grew 47
and spread into the rows, I
discontinued my hunts there
in June of 2019 to prevent damaging
the plants’ tender leaves. I hoped that
my friends would raise tobacco and
till the soil again in 2020.

I kept a close watch on the site
in late May of 2020. After the land
was tilled and following a hard rain
shower, I returned to the site not
expecting much, since the soil was
again disked and not deep plowed. I
was pleasantly surprised to find more
flint blades, points, pre-forms, and
scrapers. I recovered a 2.5-inch-long
Motley point that is 2,500-4,500 years
before present time as described in
Overstreet’s arrowhead book, an
excellent reference for identification
of Native American artifacts. I
also recovered a triangular shaped
Decatur Blade that is a preform for a
Decatur point that dates 3,000-9,000

January-February 2021 American Digger®

Finds from a May 22, 2020 hunt along the creek bank.

years before present time. This reinforces what my longtime Hunting Native American artifacts on the surface re-
friend told me about some of the flint scrapers possibly quires less expertise than metal detecting, and most
dating back to the Paleo period. detectorists around here began hunting Native
American artifacts before ever picking up a detector. Even
Our oldest granddaughter (Morgan, age 8) has al- though I am now 71 years old, I still get a rush from eyeballing a
ways been interested in rocks and especially arrowheads. nice flint arrowhead just as I do when I feel the weight of some-
Since I found a few artifacts during my first return to the thing heavy in a handful of soil when I pass it under my detector
site in 2020, I invited her to hunt with me on the second coil and know it’s a Civil War bullet. The artifacts from the creek
hunt. Before we were rained out in about 30 minutes, she site pale in comparison to some early sites where farm equip-
found one perfect Woodland point with serrated flaking, ment has not damaged the flint or chert weapons or tools, but
and three other points with some damage. Our son Jared I was just happy to find tilled soil in the days of no-till farming.
(Morgan’s dad) had gone hunting with me for Civil War Native Tennessean Quindy D. Robertson, a frequent contribu-
relics and Native American artifacts when he was 8-10 tor to American Digger®, is an avid detectorist and collector. He
years old; he had not been that interested in metal detect- encourages other history hunters to share their finds with the
ing but was all in on hunting arrowheads. younger generation so they will develop an interest in history.

Since he has a full-time management job and farms
as well, he rarely has time for artifact hunting anymore.
He wanted to go with me to the creek site while he was off
work on Memorial Day, and found the artifacts shown in
the pictures and enjoyed the hunt immensely, as I did.

48 American Digger® Vol. 17, Issue 1

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