Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One Man's Trash...

I learned a valuable lesson recently...quite literally just hours after having heard the same lesson taught to someone else.

My husband and I were passing a local historic property, where we had hoped to gain permission to detect, when we noticed a fellow hobbyist who had beaten us to the site.  We left our detectors in the car and approached, not wanting to step on any toes but dying to know if anything of interest had been found.  "Mark" was quite happy to stop and chat with us and eager to show us the few finds he'd made. 

As we'd already guessed, Mark admitted the ground around the house was rather trashy, and seemed convinced finds would be few and far between.  He pulled a handful of items out of his pouch to show us what he'd unearthed.  One disc-shaped item caught my husbands eye and he pointed to it, only to be told that it was just a bit of trash, nothing more.  Joe asked to see it, rubbed dirt off it with his thumb, then said, "Congratulations, you've got an old coin there," before tilting the coin my way, where I could just make out the faint outline of a bust on its surface.  Joe returned the coin to Mark, joking that he should look closer at items before discarding them as trash.

We left Mark shaking his head in disbelief and mumbling, "You don't know how close I was to throwing that away."

Fast forward to the next morning.  Joe and I had gone back to the same house, trying our luck at finding any old coins or artifacts that might have escaped Mark's detector.  Later, we sat on the tailgate of our truck, going through our finds and cleaning the trash out of our pouches.  I had just thrown an odd-shaped metal plate into the discard pile when Joe's hand shot out and scooped it up.  I looked up at him, puzzled, as I heard him say "Do you know what you've got here?"  Obviously I didn't.  Turns out it was part of a Civil War belt buckle.

Now it was my turn to shake my head in disbelief and mumble, "You don't know how close I was to throwing that away..." 

Lesson learned?  Know what you are looking for, do your research and never underestimate what you may have found.