Jan 3 2008

Guest Post: Mental preparation during the off season


Some of you lucky souls can metal detect all year around, and I envy you. As for me, it’s cold and dark this time of year, and everything is frozen solid. I do use this time to keep my mind in the detecting game though. Besides reading my monthly copy of Western & Eastern Treasures and scouring the various detecting boards to see what others are finding, I try to stay productive for the Spring and Summer to come.

Evaluating and recording my last year’s finds. I keep a detecting journal with addresses and notes along with the finds found. I like to review those notes and store the finds. I usually store my coin finds in a binder note book with coin holders. My unusual and unique finds like rings, pendents, etc I keep in a little chest. I also like to document those finds with a photograph so I can look up where I found them if I’m revisiting a detecting site.

Research. Well this should be pretty obvious. Throughout the previous year, I’ve found prospective places to hunt either by driving by or getting leads from friends and family. I gather my notes and try to get additional information. If the land had a house near by etc. Possibly finding a phone number or two to call when the conditions are right. I always like to start the season with the quality ‘virgin’ hunts to get me super excited for the year. Along with hot leads, I’ll hit the library to see if I can gather any information from the old newspapers. I like to focus on July – August and search for gatherings. Usually picnics, fund raisers, etc that are not in the typical places. Usually sites that are long gone and forgotten now.

Gear inspection and upgrades. This is the fun stuff, but the part my wife doesn’t enjoy. I like to look over my gear which would include my detector, trowels, collection pouches, etc. Make sure they’re all working good. I also evaluate if I need to upgrade anything. This is where I start strategizing with the ideas of new coils, pinpointers, etc. Or completely ugrade a detector!

I usually don’t do any bench testing or test gardens, which I know a few off-season hunters do. My personal experience has led me to not trust those tones and signals, since they are rarely accurate in the real-world environment. This is just my opinion and can be based off of my soil conditions and detector.

What does everyone else do during the off season?

Author: Hank D.

Apr 1 2007

Guest Post: Trade Tokens


Tokens have been issued in every state in the Union and most territories before they achieved statehood. So, wherever you live, there is a specialty available in the tokens of one’s own locality.

Tokens of the West were started simply due to the lack of coins. Prior to statehood, coins in the Montana Territory were scarce. With little or no protest from the federal government, private companies had tokens minted for them to be used for change. Tokens generally were not redeemable for cash, only credit for drinks, cigars, candy, and general merchandise. Additionally, tokens were used by company stores to extend credit to their employees, farmers, and ranchers. Generally, you could not spend it anywhere else but at the issuing merchant, and this guaranteed repeat customers. This was a general rule. Many businesses accepted other merchants’ tokens. In many towns, local tokens were used as coins and were widely accepted.

The period of 1866 to about 1900 is referred to as the Saloon Token Era in the United States. Hundreds and hundreds of varieties were issued beginning about 1875. Montana Saloon tokens generally lasted until prohibition started, January 1, 1918. Prohibition in the rest of the U.S. started January 1, 1920. These are general dates because many counties or towns enacted their own prohibition laws locally prior to state or federal regulations. Saloon tokens have denominations such as 1 drink or 12 1/2 cents. These are highly sought after by many collectors, and are thus valued higher. For years, beer was 5¢ and a shot was 15¢ or 2 for 25¢. When paying 25 cents for a shot, customers were often given the option of receiving 10¢ change or a 12 1/2¢ token. This gave the proprietor a chance to get some free advertising and, once again, guaranteed a repeat customer.

Types of companies that made used trade tokens:

  • Arcade / Amusement
  • Barbers, Billiard / Pool Hall
  • Bi-Metals
  • Buffets
  • Cigars / Segars
  • Bakeries
  • Confectionary / Candy / Sweets
  • Dairies / Creamery
  • Druggists
  • Hotels
  • Ingle System Manufacturer
  • Mercantiles / Merchandise
  • Saloons
  • Sample Rooms
  • Soft Drink Parlors
  • Smoke House / Shops
  • Trading Companies.

    Where did the trade tokens end up at. That’s the million dollar question. When businesses failed or traded owners, the original owner wanted to destroy the tokens so as they wouldn’t be found and reused. Many went into the fire place. One common method was to throw the tokens into an outhouse. Many ended up in the bottom of the local river. In Butte Montana, one group ended up in a cement sidewalk. After many years, the sidewalk had to be removed and they were discovered. If you ever see a trade token from Butte, with small pieces of cement on it, its most likely from this hoard.

    Where to find Trade Tokens. Coin shops, antiques stores, junk stores, private collectors; but nothing beats finding a lost token in the ground. Tokens are valued from $3.00 to over $5,000.00 each. The most valuable tokens generally come from small town that only had one merchant who issued tokens. Saloon and Territorial tokens are the most desirable and demand higher prices. Some of the tokens are valuable enough to be counterfeited. Small chance of that happening if you find one with your metal detector! .

    Several guys were metal detecting in Gilmore Idaho. They found a poolhall token that was unlisted or unknown. That same day they found a Bannack Montana token. Last year a Montana token was found in Southern Nevada. These tokens did get around. Who knows what you will find where!

    If you ever find a Montana token and need additional information on it go to: http://users.gobigwest.com/rmrubick/. This site has hundreds of Montana trade tokens pictures, contacts, and general information. Additionally a Montana Reference manual will be available soon. If you are lucky enough to dig an Idaho or Oregon token, the site also has links to Idaho and Oregon token web pages.

    Author: Roy D. Rubick
    Born: Butte Montana
    MT Tech Graduate
    Living in Idaho, Married, Children, Cat
    Hobbies: Metal detecting, Collecting Montana & Idaho Tokens – Presently writing a Montana Token Reference Manual (http://users.gobigwest.com/rmrubick/)

    Always willing to help identify a token and always looking for someone to go detecting with in Montana.

    Incoming search terms:

    • m a hardin napier
    • t h turnage store token elbridge tn
    • in trade only pat apr 7th 1914 values
    • roy rubick
    • ingle maverics tokens
    • roy d rubick
    • RUBICK tokens
    • roy rubick montana tokens
    • relic hunt in lynchburg va
    • oregon trade tokens

  • Mar 3 2007

    Guest Post: Backup your metal detecting and research data!


    Some of you are like me and like to keep metal detecting logs recording finds, including coin tallies, and places to hunt. I also like to record my thoughts on the day/hunt, keeping track of a useful tip I may have learned or noticed interesting behaviour on a target. Sometimes I like to review these during the ‘off’ season to get excited about my new Spring hunts.

    Along with logging my hunts, I take many trips to the library with my laptop for research. Many libraries now offer microfilm transfers to flash drives. This is great for storing scans of newspaper clippings, and using a flash drive makes it nice and easy to transfer those files to my laptop. Besides microfilm scans I write my research notes and save Google Map documents for future or current hunt sites. Don’t forget those old maps files off of the internet too.

    Metal detecting data is extremely useful for my success in the field, and greatly organizes my thoughts for upcoming hunts. With that said, I treat my data very seriously. Six years ago, I had a complete harddrive failure and lost all of my early hunting logs and valuable research data. I was able to recover some of that from old print-outs that I had and email correspondence, but I lost a large portion of it.

    The lesson I learned was to backup my data. Since then, I have been backing up to CD. This alternative was fine until, I became lazy and would forget to backup to disc, not to mention the stacks of CDs and the cost of purchasing the discs. I then opted to go with an external harddrive. This was better. It would back up nightly. I did run across a problem.. after deciding to take a look at the contents of the external harddrive, I realized it had died, and I was not backing my data at all from that point of it’s failure!!!

    I wanted to explore other options, and finally decided to go with Mozy Backups (http://www.mozy.com). This backup system is a ‘off-site’ backup, meaning that the backed up files are stored on a server on the internet. Why is this good? If my house burns down, I’m okay. If someone breaks into my house and steals my computer, I’m okay. Ever watch “It takes a thief” on Discovery, the thief always steals the computer in the house. Along with the fact that the data is stored on a remote server, the files are backed up securely and incrementally. This means that if I saved a file yesterday, but realized I deleted an entry from two days ago, I can recover the file from that day!

    Did I mention that Mozy is FREE??? Well, it is. You can have a 2GB remote backup account for $0. If you want more storage you can purchase an unlimited storage account for only $4.95/month.

    Once you’ve created a Mozy Account and downloaded/installed the backup program you can begin to configure your backups. After installing the program, log into the application on your computer, and select the encryption mechanism.

    [x] encrypt my data with Mozy’s own 448-bit key

    You can use pre-existing backup set, or create custom backup set. After selecting a backup set (ie: C:\Research) to run, you can configure the schedule. One feature that I thought was nice, was to set it to backup when the computer is not in use. This means that backs will only happen when you are away. You won’t notice any performance issues or slowness of your internet bandwidth while your working on your computer. Your computer must be on and connected to the internet though.

    Restoring files is extremely simple. Clicking on the restore option will open up a web browser to Mozy’s site. Log in and go to

    Restore Files. There is representation of your directory tree structure that you created. Drill down to your file(s), add a check and click ‘Restore Files’. An email will be sent after restoration has been completed.

    The 2GB free account is nice for backing up spreadsheets and word docs, but you’ll probably use it up quickly if you’re backing up scans of your finds or microfilm captures. If you’re planning on backing up images, it might be best to upgrade your account. Either way, it’s nice to give it a try for free.

    Remember, once you lose your data.. you can’t get it back, so back it up!

    Author: Hank D.

    Jan 9 2007

    Guest Post: Research, research, research – Google Earth


    The first thing to a good relic or coin shoot is doing your research. This might entail going to a location and “scoping” it out, or to the library to look at old maps.

    Better yet how about both? Yes this is possible with the technology we have today. We can literally scope out a current site and look at an old map at the same time!

    This is where Google Earth comes in handy. Google Earth “GE” is a free application ( there is also a fee based application called GE Professional) that you can download from Google that allows you to view current maps and aerial views of areas along with around 1000 other options. In this article I will only touch on one, the ability to “overlay” an older map on top of an aerial view to get a good approximation of how things look now compared to how things looked then.

    After loading Google Earth lets look at some of the common functions and allow us to get our bearings with the task at hand.

    I am assuming that you are a little familiar with GE, but I will go over a cursory outline of what it can do.

    GE is very nice in the fact that it like all good programs take full control of the scroll functions in mice. The scroll function allows you to zoom in and out of the field of view. Right mouse clicking on the view allows you to “pull” your map into any direction you want allowing you to pan through sections with ease. Notice that the maps orientation is due north (the compass is in the upper right hand corner) getting comfortable with the compass will help with placing an overlay map. This is due to the fact that all maps in the Northern hemisphere are centered with north being in the “up” position. Getting familiar with panning and the compass is a must when working with the older maps as overlays.

    Getting used to GE is very simple here are some tips on using the places and layers windows.

    Notice that all places and layers are located on the left of the screen. This allows you to turn on/off features and allows you create “layers” to your views. On the layers menu you can turn on roads and other features that allow you expand or limit the amount of data that is displayed on your map. Expanding the “+” sign will allow you to drill down and see each individual option available under each layer heading.

    Here I have expanded transportation and have put a check mark next to railroads enabling all railroad lines to be displayed on your view. The places window will allow you to add your overlay. This feature will allow you to turn on and off places of interest, overlays, polygons and paths.

    After you have played with GE you will notice the power of what you have in front of you. The sky is the limit! Next let’s explore overlaying an old map on to GE. Old maps of your area can usually be found on the internet. Google is a great place to start your search for a “digital “version of a map. There are plenty of free maps on the internet that will help you in your quest.

    Let’s get to the task at hand. After finding a good digital map, open up Google earth and type the location of where you want to do your hunt. Make certain that your compass is facing north! * For you Southern Hemisphere folk “South”*

    Look at your digital map you want to overlay and get the approximate expanse of the map to mirror your area in GE. For example if your map shows parts of a lake in the digital map try to approximate the area shown in GE. This is VERY helpful when placing the overlay.

    On the top row of GE you will see an Icon that looks like “layered papers” This is the Overlay tool, click this Icon. Here you will see a border box appear in the “View” mode this will approximate where the map placement and size of the map. This can be adjusted so don’t worry if it’s not exact.

    Enter in a useful name on your overlay and browse to where you stored your digital map. At this point you will see your overlay on top of the current view. Keep the link box open as you will be able to adjust the transparency of the map by the slide tool on the description tab. The transparency tool is nice because you can view either the map or the current view and adjust if you want to see both. The more “opaque” the object is the more solid it looks. The more “clear” allows the map to blend in with the background.

    You may want to turn off unwanted features to allow you to see the overlay better. On the placed map you will see a cross hair ( in green) on the object, by touching this with the mouse you can move the map on the background to align it with your static features on your background map, rivers, lakes, roads ( if they existed) and other land features are good points use to place the map properly. By using the cross hair and the side border adjustments you will be able to “resize” the map to come close to what is actually seen in the view. This process at first can be a bit frustrating if you make too many adjustments at one time. A bit of patience and practice and you can master this overlay in less than ½ hour. One thing to note, all maps are not created equal. There are many maps which are not truly accurate this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they approximated just as we do today its only human nature. The other fact is that there are different projections that are used in maps but I won’t get into this discussion here.

    Remember to use your transparency adjustments to allow you to see through your digital map and see the background. This will make all the difference in the world!

    At this point you can close the overlay control box and you will see your results! To change the transparency right mouse click on your new place and click properties. This will bring up the overlay control box and allow you to adjust the transparency. Now the real work begins! Time to find that homestead that used to exist! Enjoy!

    This is just a taste of what you can do with Google Earth. There are many features that allow you to expand your research capabilities in the field of metal detecting. As I mentioned earlier research is the key to a good hunt. But most of the fun is still the detecting.

    J.J. Antonetti

    Google and all trademarks are property of Google Inc.

    Author: J.J. Antonetti

    Dec 29 2006

    Guest Post: Research Points


    Research is a vital piece of any successful hunt, and follow-up research can be used to enhance your newly found items. Isn’t it great to dig up the history related to an interesting item or site?

    I get asked by fellow metal detector friends, “How do you find your areas?” I believe that research is a multi-point system. There doesn’t exist a single point where all of you knowledge comes from. No matter what, your single point will “dead-end” and you will be left holding only a single piece of the puzzle.

    I live in Montana, so our historic depth is much more shallow that someone living in Eastern United States or Europe. I like to break down timelines into zones. I look at the oldest time period being between the dates of 1860-1890 for my state. My second zone, which is my favorite, is 1891 – 1920. And the final zone is 1921 – 1964.

    Each one of these zones can provide important slots in my local history, and they all have specific “hot” spots related in their zones. This is where I like to start.

    The next step I like to take is to determine if I’m going to focus on coinshooting or relic hunting, or both. This is important to determine what type of sites to look for. When I decide to pursue coinshooting, I look towards recreational areas with somewhat heavy traffic. If I decide to look for relic hunting spots, then I like for anything in the outdoors that matches my time line. If it’s both, which is rare, I would look for ghost towns or vanished communities or camps.

    To start my “actual” research, I have a loose goal or zone and type discussed earlier. I’m interested in a site where I can relic hunt and coinshoot. I’m also looking for a site that is between dates of 1891-1920.

    I head to my local library and immediately go to the newspaper archives. If I’m lucky, they’ll have the actual paper archives, but the micro film will work fine. I want to find a community, ranch complex, or a camp of some sort. These places will give me the best chance for coins and relics.

    For this example, I came across a settlement that was on a river and died around 1900. An article in the newspaper gave the name of the community and a rough location. Since, I’m really researching this particular site, I will not give up the name or the location.

    With the name in hand, I’m going to see if a past historian might have done the hard work for me, by locating the site and providing a more accurate location on a modern map. This is where I start to look for historical books for that region. In my experience there have been a surge of these types of books in the last ten years or so. They make great coffee table books, and I buy them every time I see one.

    I located a book that talks about my area and it did in fact provide some very useful clues. I believe I have it narrowed down to a 50 square mile area. Obviously, this is too large, and I need to get it tightened down further. This is where some nice technology comes in.

    Google Maps is a fantastic tool to get an aerial view of an area. Depending on the environment, you might be able to see some landmarks or even structures.

    This community was on the banks of a river and was a small railroad stop. This area has only a road bridge, and no obvious railroad signs can be found, but Google Maps gave me a beautiful clue.

    In this image you can clearly see the footings from an old tressel bridge that crossed the river. The tracks were replaced by a dirt road that stops at both ends of the missing bridge. This will give me a starting point for asking land owners for permission to detect. Also, this gave me a few other possible sites.

    Bridges themselves are often great places to fish or swim, and can turn up a find or two on the banks. But as I was scanning with Google Maps, I came across a grove of trees and clear foundation. I think this was an old farm house. I’m curious as to why the grove was left untouched. I’m thinking it might be a large dump and was easier to farm around vs. cleaning up the area. Again, this is another item on the list to detect.

    So far, I’ve discussed having a goal or target before you begin your research to best optimize your research time. I talked about newspapers, historic books and Google Maps as research points, but I did leave off an incredibly valuable point. That point is the human contact!

    Don’t forget to talk to people, to ask questions. When you ask for permissions, ask questions about the property. They often know about many more detecting sites, and can make calls to neighbors for you to get permission.

    The saying, “success breeds success” can be easily applied to research. As soon as you get some good research in, it’s amazing how more and more sites and leads begin to pop up.

    Good luck in your research!

    Author: Hank D.