The Real McCoy

‘The real McCoy’ is an idiom and metaphor meaning ‘the real thing’ or ‘the genuine article’, e.g. ‘he’s the real McCoy’.

The real McCoy ( just one of the theories ) was Canadian inventor Elijah McCoy, born in 1844. He had many different inventions including an ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Other companies copied his devices, but these never worked as well as Elijah’s so people would say, ‘I want a … and make sure it’s a real McCoy.’

Catalyst

The monthly club reports sent in by dedicated detectorists are an essential part of the UK Searcher magazine. My thanks go to Geoff Blindell who sends the Taynton Club reports and who alerted us to Harry’s accomplishments. They were the catalyst for my unimaginative title.

Harry is a member of the club, which is also attended by his father and granddad. When this story was first published Harry was 10. Now, four years later he’s a big lad, no doubt, and I don’t have his details. If he reads this perhaps he will contact me and we can do a follow-up.

Geoff said, “… the youngest club member stole the night with his cracking medieval horse harness pendant and his recent Detectorist of the Day win … he has set the bar high for his dad and granddad and the future looks bright for him and the club …”

In my book, that makes him in the running for ‘The Real McCoy’. My sincere apologies go to dad Steven and granddad Peter. 🙂

When John met Harry

I arranged to speak with Harry after he’d returned from a day at Severnbanks Primary School where he was in Year 5. I was rather anxious, but I needn’t have worried. He was a joy to talk with and put me at ease from the outset. He was a sociable, articulate and interesting young man.

Dad Steven interjected occasionally during our conversation. One of the facts he shared at the time was that Harry would be going ‘up’ to the secondary school in about 15 months. I didn’t think that this was relevant at the time but, on reflection, it served to show just how young my subject really is.

Horse Harness Pendant


Harry was detecting on a club dig in a large stubble field on the day he found the ‘cracking medieval pendant’. Excitedly, he waved it around. From a distance, his father thought it might have been something like a Victorian coronation medal, but granddad later confirmed that it was a harness pendant.

At the time of writing it was still in Harry’s possession, but will eventually be reported to Kurt Adams, the Finds Liaison Officer for Gloucestershire and Avon.

First Hammered & the Joys of Detecting

Interestingly, Harry’s ‘Detectorist of the Day’ award was for a rather special earlier find, his first hammered coin, an Edward I penny! That’s a fine picture taken by his Dad and one he will always remember. Before that he’d found lots of Georgian coppers and musket balls.

It had taken nearly two years to find the coin. Harry started detecting with his granddad Peter and now accompanies both him and his dad on club digs. He enjoys the hobby very much. I asked him, “How much?” His comprehensive reply first complimented the club to which he belongs.

“The advantage of belonging to the Taynton Club is that I see what others have found and meeting people with a similar interest. We also get the opportunity to visit different places and get out in the fresh air. What I don’t like is the cold and the rain!”

Father agreed and I visualised him emphatically nodding his head in agreement. Like father, like son. After a little encouragement Harry continued, “The hobby sometimes helps with my history projects at school and some of my friends are very interested in seeing my finds and hearing more about them.”

Good to hear that they don’t regard the hobby as a ‘geeky’ thing to do. If pursuits like sport and other teenage fancies don’t take over, I can see Harry still engaged in this absorbing pastime in 10 or 15 years time. By then he should be a very experiencedand knowledgeable detectorist. And deservedly so, for it’s all in the McCoy genes, and he’s had a good start. Granddad and dad have taught him well!

No Change

Harry is very happy with his Garrett Ace 250, is determined to understand it better, and sees no reason to change. I enjoyed talking with him and wish him every success in the future. I take the opportunity to thank Steve McCoy for supplying me with the superb pictures you see accompanying this article.

At the end of our conversation, Harry’s Dad happened to mention that his father Peter had appeared in a ‘previous magazine’ in November 2015. Out of interest I looked, but couldn’t find anything, so I contacted him. As a result I spent more time scouring other months to no avail. It wasn’t until Mrs. McCoy (bless her) eventually produced the magazine, that I realised it wasn’t a Searcher!


Origin of the Saying

Anyone checking up on the origin of the common expression, ‘The Real McCoy’, will come across an astonishing wide range of suggestions. Most of them rely on ingenuity rather than hard fact, but the one I prefer emanates from Scotland, simply because there’s plenty of evidence plus it sounds plausible.

The earliest example of this usage of ‘The Real McCoy’ is recorded in the Scottish National Dictionary of 1856 and states that the original McCoy was actually a MacKay. Well, they would, wouldn’t they! ‘A drappie (drop) o’ the real MacKay’. The same work says that in 1870 the slogan was adopted by G Mackay and Co, whisky distillers of Edinburgh to describe their product.

JW

In this article I have adopted the phrase to describe third generation ten-year-old detectorist, Harry McCoy, of the Taynton MDC in Gloucestershire.

Thanks to Harry and his family, the Taynton MDC and Geoff Blindell for help and support in the preparation of this blog.

Some of you may have seen this blog in 2016, but that original is now unavailable. I have worked on this heartening story again, added a little and re-vamped the presentation. Hope you like it.

2 thoughts on “The Real McCoy”

  1. Great story John, what a lucky young man he was to make those great finds!

    I bet his teachers are (were) happy to get school projects handed in that related to something other than football! LOL….

    As for the Real McCoy, I remember hearing a few stories but surprisingly the Scottish one was the first that I heard, so was inclined to believe it.

    There was also a fighter by the same name that sounded plausible as well, but funny that I didn’t hear about the Canadian until now?? I must learn to read more?!?

    Like

  2. Another interesting read John I wish I had discovered this hobby when I was his age instead of alcohol and women ….

    Like

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