Lost and Found

One of the most pleasurable and public-spirited activities detectorists frequently engage in is the recovery of articles (especially finger rings) that have been lost by members of the public. It’s not something that our most vociferous detractors will ever mention, but then that’s understandable; they aren’t usually in the habit of commenting on the positive side of the hobby. Detecting clubs and individuals in the UK often provide a free recovery service – and the public is beginning to recognise that fact.

Graham, Anne and Mrs. John

How Much?

My story starts with a plaintive telephone call from Graham, one-time secretary of the local archaeological society and treasurer of the Old Town Residents’ Association, asking for help in finding an earring lost by his wife, Anne. He wanted to know how much Mrs. John and I would charge for trying to find it.

We soon put him right on that score, told him that our services were free, and arranged to call around the next day. Detectors were readied, boots blackened, probes polished and we were ready to go. All that activity proved to be just a rehearsal. In the morning we were greeted with a heavy covering of snow, so our mission was called off and arranged for another day.

A couple of weeks later, we tried again. Apart from a slight drizzle, the weather wasn’t too bad for digging. Anne explained that on the day she had lost the earring it had been quite windy. She had pegged clothes on the whirligig then did a little digging in the borders. Reading between the lines … the missing article could be almost anywhere in the garden!

Garden near the Church

It was 2013. Even then I was wobbly on my feet and quite decrepit so Mrs. John assigned me to search on the grass. The theory was that the missing ring would be on the surface and I wouldn’t have to do any digging. Meanwhile, she took a small trowel and systematically searched in soil where vegetables were due to be planted. There were loads of signals, but none were for the earring.

Also, there were many good signals in the lawn and although it was tempting I didn’t dig. After an hour or so I was beginning to tire. Not only that, at my age I need excitement, so after a short break I poked about in the borders and dug a couple of beeps that sounded promising.

Continue reading “Lost and Found”

A ‘Vulgar’ Request

The Passion, Vulgar or Honolulu Penny

I’ve been asked to repeat a post from long ago, but I can’t find it. This is what appeared in a magazine at the time . . .

Some of you may be aware that I maintain a blog at johnwinter.blog, described as the scribblings of a metal detectorist. It has been suggested by a couple of my subscribers that a wee article I posted last year is worthy of a larger audience.

My blog post started with a throwaway comment on an American detecting forum from a guy who said that when he lived in the UK he would ‘get a kick’ when finding a ‘passion penny’. He didn’t go into details, but this was enough to whet my appetite for more information. What I found led me on a quest to find and check all my pre-decimal pennies …

In the40s and 50s, Victorian pennies were still in circulation and I have quite a few in my collection found when detecting.

I checked first with Mr. Google, but on this occasion he let me down. In retrospect, it wasn’t a good idea to use the phrase PASSION PENNY as my search. I won’t go into intimate details, but one of the alluring responses to my enquiry was seductive and passionate curvy escort near Gatwick.

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Borrowed Times

This blog is almost a direct crib from a newsletter I produced for the UNITED KINGDOM DETECTOR FINDS DATABASE (UKDFD). As you can see, the date is 2007 when the database had been in operation for two years.

In issue number four I discussed two unidentified items and asked for help with identification. Alas, thirteen years later they still remain a mystery. Although the majority of items submitted for identification are done within a short space of time, it was inevitable and to be expected that some of the items uploaded to the database are not so easily identifiable, thus validation will take longer. So what happens to them and what is the procedure?

First, the Identification Team discuss all problematic artefacts online within a private user group on the UKDFD forum. They may seek identifications that are supported by published sources of reference and records are only validated when there is a high level of confidence in the accuracy. If identifications are confirmed and the record is validated, the UKDFD will acknowledge the person providing the information (unless requested otherwise). Although accessible by those registered with the database, any unidentified objects were not usually listed on the public database due to their ID status.

© UKDFD

The item shown above (number 7232 on the database) was found about nineteen years ago by well-known and respected detectorist Sally Atkinson. When she showed it to the PAS, it came back unidentified. She says that it was found on a proven ‘Roman site’ and she is almost certain it is from that period. But what can it be? It is 34 mm in length, 15 mm at the top and tapers to 9 mm.

So, even though the form and patina suggested a Roman date the team was unable to say for definite what it could be. Some of the suggestions have ranged from some kind of shank, key related, knife handle, fibula section, furniture terminal or the leg off something. So, the jury’s still out on this one unless, of course, you know better!

An unidentified cast copper-alloy object of the Roman period. It is of hollow square section, tapered, with four ribs and a castellated edge at the larger end. It appears to be complete and undamaged. – from the UKDFD

Cast copper alloy square-sectioned hollow shank with elaborate stepped top. Possible mount/ferrule/stylus. Of Roman date. It measures 34.31mm in length, 14.23mm wide and 14.53mm thick.- from the PAS

Another Strange Object

They certainly find some fascinating objects in Yorkshire. Peter Morris uploaded this cast copper alloy base – number 9057 on the database – which also had everyone scratching their heads as to what it might be.

The intriguing thing about this find is that the base contains a decorated material resembling horn or it may be fossil. Width 46mm, Depth 31mm. Height 28mm

Bonus Blog – A little Slab, Tickle then Slap!

The question on the detecting forum was innocent enough: “Are there any books available or web pages about Irish countermarked slab tokens?”

I was intrigued. I’m regarded by many to be some kind of knowledgeable person on all things detecting, but that’s far from the truth. I’m an imaginative writer and have never set myself up as an expert. I’d never heard of a slab token and was determined to find out more.

My first port of call was my friend Mr. Google. Search as I might, I couldn’t find anything. The nearest I got was an invitation to buy tickets for a music festival where everything inside the ‘Festival Fence’ would be available, but only with tokens! My mind went into overdrive.

I tentatively replied to the request on the forum, because I didn’t want to look like a numpty. According to the Urban Dictionary ‘Someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action shows a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others.’

I was given an answer by the person who had posed the question: He said, SLAB tokens are old worn hammered coins, shilling or groats countermarked with the initials of merchants and used as trade tokens.’

I graciously thanked the poster and replied that I’d never heard of them and that we ‘learnt something new every day’. However, I wasn’t entirely happy with the reply.

Another poster prefaced his comment with a smiley and said: ‘I think you meant SLAP token, not slab.’ Then everything fell into place. Mr. Google was very helpful this time and directed me to Rod Blunt’s good old United Kingdom Detector Finds Database (UKDFD) where I got the following information. At last I had an answer!

Continue reading “Bonus Blog – A little Slab, Tickle then Slap!”