F is by far more of an expert at MD than me and is a veritable mine of information when it comes to IDing the things we find. A career in Archeology looks set to beckon him and he spends many hours walking across acres and acres of fields in all weathers, head bowed, arm swinging, listening to the sing-song tones of his detector calling out to him about the treasures just waiting to be found.
It is something he and I do together, as no-one else in the family is particularly interested in it, and as such is time I treasure.
We hadn't been out for a while (well I haven't been out for months- life for adults intervenes) so this morning I had promised him we would go together, and ten o'clock saw us ensconced in a friend's field with the rain pouring down and our metal detectors alternately pinging or remaining frustratingly silent.
You learn to hear the difference in signal sounds when you've been doing this a while, which means you don't waste hours digging holes for every single pip. There are also settings on detectors which in theory zone out waste metal such as nails and tin cans, although mine seems to ping in a very similar way for both coins and scrap. Oh well, t'is part of the joy of the hobby. For every decent find you get several rubbish ones, and nothing beats the excitement of seeing the shape of a coin peeping out of the earth and wiping the mud off to see what's on it.
F had been desperate for some time to find a hammered coin (ancient things made by placing a blank piece of metal between two dies (types of stamps containing images) and bashing it with a hammer. They date from the first millenium BC up to around the 1700s when they were replaced by Milled coinage which was produced by machinery). Hammered coins are special things and I have yet to find one. Imagine my excitement when we got a near-hysterical call from F back in April to say he had not only found his first hammered coin, but that it was a Gold Quarter Noble dating to the reign of Edward III and that it had been made between 1361-1369.
He brought it down to show us. Here it is in all its glory. Can you believe the detail on it? This coin is nearly 700 years old and probably lay buried in the earth for most of that time. It is his pride and joy, and rightfully so:
All finds are interesting, many because of the social history they inform you of. For example, my favourite find is a tiny child's thimble, dating from the Early Victorian Period, which I found on a field boundary. A little bit of research told me that thimbles are often found in fields because the women and children brought their sewing with them to do during their lunch break from working in the fields. Many thimbles come out of the earth crushed and twisted, so this one is in remarkably good condition. I like to think about who's hands it has been through and what the life was like for the person who did her sewing with it in the field where I found it.... BTW, the penny beside it is a 1p coin of our own Dear Monarch, to give a sense of scale.
Other pieces I am particularly fond of include this Jeton which was made in Nuremberg and dates to between 1500-1570. Jetons are counters used on a chequered board for accounting purposes. This is where we get our modern term "exchequer" from. They were a kind of reckoning counter and by the end of the 1400s came almost exclusively from Nuremberg. Mine is likely to be from the Schultes workshop and shows a Lion of St Mark holding a book of the Gospels on one side with an Imperial Orb within a tressure of three arches and three angels on the other.
The site we visit most often yields a large number of Georgian coins, most of them in a poor state of preservation, and this morning F got very excited when my one and only coin of the day appeared after a very strong signal. It's a Penny from the rein of George III and dates from the first decade of the 1800s. It is huge for a coin. You should be able to just about make out Britannia in the first pic below. The Georgians copied ancient Roman coins who also had this image on their coinage. George's profile in the second pic is less clear, but easily recognisable if you're used to seeing it as F is.
F found a silver Bender Love Token in the same field. This one dates from the reign of William III (1670) and is made of silver. Bender love tokens are rather lovely- the man bent the coin into an "s" shape in front of his lady love (to prove his strength perhaps). If she kept it it was Game On, but if she threw it away into a field he had better look elsewhere for love. So maybe F's love token from this morning was one that was discarded? Rather a sad tale, even if an interesting piece of evidence for social history.
F has always been nicknamed "F The Finder" in our house, and no sooner did he locate his Gold Quarter Noble than he began to find other Hammered Coins, such as this Silver Sixpence from the reign of Charles I (coin date 1639-1640). Note the "Carolvs" for Charles, top right of the pic below.
And TWO silver sixpences from the reign of Elizabeth I, which I think are my favourites. These date from 1561 and 1582 respectively, and on the latter one you can clearly see the profile of the queen. Gives me goosebumps just to look at it. All three sixpences were minted at the Tower of London. Magic.
My most ancient coin is this Roman Dupondius, only really IDable by its shape and size. It was lying on the surface of the field last autumn, probably brought up by the plough:
Other than coins I have also found this West's Silver Patent Cufflink dating from the 1880's. These are important because the design was a new one meant to hold the cufflink in place using a sort of screw mechanism:
And there have also been some musket balls, one unfired (the one nearest the coin) as it is perfect. The second is harder to tell whether or not it was ever shot. F has some fine ones with lines scraped into them by a knife- soldiers would apparently score the musket ball then roll it in poo so that when it was shot it would infect the wound. Nice eh?
I also found this a few months back and had no idea what it was until a kind person on a forum told me. It's a Jew's Harp, a kind of mouth instrument and as such is one of the oldest designs on the planet. Mine could be a hundred years old or a thousand.
I'll do the odd Metal Detecting Post every now and then as Interesting Things turn up. I've said to F I am prepared to forego my Celtic Coin find if I can find a Viking or Roman or even Saxon hoard instead!
The other thing we did today was to visit the sea. I felt the urge so we bundled everyone into the car and went down to Mudeford. It was grey and the sky was heavy with clouds and the sea did not look inviting, but M has the capacity to swim in the coldest of temperature (it's like a badge of honour with him) so he went in and swam about calling out "It's Warm! Come In!" and we all pretended we couldn't hear him and went off for an Ice Cream instead, which I find I can always manage to eat even in Mid-Winter.... M is that dark blob diving in.
I was rather taken with this holey stone...
Someon had made a whole fortification of Lovely Sandcastles
There was Quite A Lot of Interesting Seaweed...
Ted had fun pretending he was a Salty Seadog
Sexual Equality Hits Mudeford
Well, that's another weekend over with- where did it go? Somehow, it disappeared into knitting (both additions to scarf and almost another square for the blanket too), swimming (until a child was sick in the pool and we had to get out. Yuk), cooking supper for M's sister and the five of us, drinking too much wine, being inveigled into buying an awful lot of crisps, biscuits and chocolates at Asda by L when I'd only gone in for Hula Hoops, washing, hoovering, removing cobwebs (shiver), Over Seeing Computer Time and Chivvying Along Homework, trying to fix the digi box upstairs,
THANK YOU Ladies, for all your suggestions. Food for thought indeed....
...Never a Dull Moment Here
Hope you all have a Splendid Week,