Treasure Finds and Stories
Historic 1860s Cricket Belt Buckle
My metal detecting had been rudely interrupted by a sudden knee injury. I had missed some prime time detecting and now Winter was fast approaching. I didn’t care, I was itching to get back into it after the operation and rehab period.
I took a short drive to my favourite spot, the site of an early country inn. The bulldozers didn’t leave anything visible on the surface and underneath the area's mineralised soil surface there is a veritable minefield of Victorian era building materials, much of which is slowly rusting away.
I chose my Minelab E-TRAC as it easily copes with the soil conditions and is also clever enough to tell me when it singles out the treasures in amongst all that rusty trash. I fired up ET, put her into 2 Tone Ferrous and noise cancelled, cranked up the Sensitivity up to 27 and was away and swinging. Pretty soon I was happily digging the better signals and having a ball.
One find in particular gave me a thrill as it was an old cricket belt buckle. It was only my second cricket buckle ever found, by co-incidence my first buckle was also unearthed at this particular inn site. Other things of interest found that morning were tiny brass percussion caps, an 1879 Queen Victoria penny, an 1880’s military button and an old Martini/Henry rifle cartridge shell.
Back at home I washed off the finds and put a post on a metal detecting forum that I belong to… I posted a photo of the belt buckle and said how good it was to be back detecting and how smooth and deep the E-TRAC went in that rock hard ground today.
When it was cleaned, the old cricket buckle looked different… it shows the cut out figures of a cricket team and the words “Our Eleven”. Unfortunately the old buckle had a little damage, possibly from a bulldozer. A couple of the cricketers were headless and one cricketer is missing on the right hand side. I put it with my other cricket buckle in my metal detecting finds display case and forgot all about it.
That find was back in May 2011. A year had gone by when I received an email from an interstate man named Ryan who saw my forum post title “1870’s Cricket Buckle” when doing a Google search. Ryan informed me as to who and what the buckle actually represents. It depicts the first ever English Cricket Team to tour Australia in 1861 – 62.
The cricket player William Mudie standing second from the left on the buckle is his ancestor. Ryan then sent me a copy of an old photograph of the original team in exactly the same pose as my old belt buckle. It matched, there was no dispute - the buckle was designed from that photograph. The only small difference is that the promoters agent who appeared dressed in a top hat in the old photo was not included when the buckle was made, perhaps he was deemed expendable or not strictly a team member to be included.
This 1st English team became known as The Trailblazers as they paved the way for future touring teams to far off Australia, 2 month journey by ship during the 1860’s. The tour was a huge success and they played to massive crowds in Victoria and New South Wales during the Gold rush era. 17 years later the Ashes Test Cricket Series evolved from this beginning.
So that’s the story about the rare but battered old belt buckle, what has transpired and what I have learned about it since my E-TRAC and I unearthed it. I consider myself lucky to find it and even luckier to be the current guardian of this nice old piece of early Australian sporting history.
I have now purchased a new Minelab CTX 3030 and I am keen to revisit this productive old location to see what else I can find.