A Very Rare Find
It started off a humid and overcast morning in what I have nicknamed "The Old Country" Near Historic Raleigh North Carolina. Normally, one doesn't venture into the forest in the summertime. Rattle snakes, Copperheads , ticks, and heavy overgrowth make metal detecting very difficult in these parts. Being a dedicated metal detecting enthusiast, I get to where I can't stand to be away from the sites that have produced nice historic finds in the past. For me, it's the feeling I get just standing where our forefathers were when times were unsteady and tensions were high with Revolutionary war skirmishes and battles took place. It's almost like the love of Fly fishing and the feeling you get in anticipation before you even present the fly on the Madison River in Montana on a cool spring opening morning of Trout season. If you've been there, you would understand that sentence. In other words, it's a passion.[split]
On this trip, I travelled to a spot that had produced a mix of American Revolutionary and Civil war relics. Including Colonial civilian coins and heavily Gilted (Gilt is the shiny gold that adorns most Military buttons invented by the British) buttons. Buttons for some reason have a special place on my relics display wall. I guess it's because some of them played a significant part in everyday life or worn on uniforms in significant battles. The fact that I may be the only one to handle the button in hundreds of years is amazing to me. It's not always the treasure that is exciting, most of the time it's the history that comes with it. Was this Revolutionary or Civil war soldier killed in battle? Was this opera button worn by a prominent figure?
Or, were these historic cuff links worn by a hero in battle during our fight for freedom? My wife and I run a 4-H education center in the beautiful Craggy Mountains of North Carolina. It's a summer camp for kids to come and learn about such historic things like I just mentioned above. It's truly amazing to see a kids eyes light up while they hold lost treasure's and hear the story that goes behind it. I like to talk about the Revolutionary or Civil wars and educate them on the History behind them. If you have tried this before, you know that attention spans don't last too long! But when they are holding a relic from these times, curiosity sparks, conversation with attentiveness begins. In turn, it educates them to preserve the events that were an important part of American history. I started detecting this day by turning on my trusty E-TRAC and doing my ritual of ground balancing and adjusting the length of the coil shaft. I began my usual slow, very close to the ground sweeping motion, listening to my machine speaking the many multi level conductive tones I set in my favorite program.
It didn't take long before I chose the tone that was very high, and solid. It sounded like a very high strike from a violin. Carefully, I created a half plug and anticipation, I wanted to view what was sounding so sweet over my headphones. With the plug of earth of warm red clay and grass gently folded over, I proceeded to use my hand held pin pointer to gently remove the object. It only took one wave of the pointer to realise the relic was indeed within the top part of the plug I had cut out. A couple of taps of my finger and the button fell from the plug into the bottom of the hole. I took my small brush that I carry in my Orvis fishing vest and began to gently remove the dirt. A couple of gentle sweeps then, I gasped! "Whoa, I've seen this button before". A couple more strokes of the soft brush and almost in disbelief, was this amazing pelican staring back at me. Almost as if it were smiling and waving at me! LOL I then knew what I had was the elusive Louisiana Civil war button so highly collected and very difficult to find. On any button, there is what we refer to as the "back mark" or "quality mark". This is the mark that is what tells the story of the Button. What party wore it, who made it, and sometimes, if your research is good... who may have even wore it! At this point I tried to put the button away, shaking with excitement, dropping it in the grass again. I managed to gently put the button away and later that day, after the hunt, clean the button, ever so carefully to reveal that important back mark on the reverse side. A lot of times a back mark cannot be recovered due to fertilisers in fields or just corrosion. Not this button! After cleaning the nicely Gilted button I began to read the book. The back mark, the history of the button. It revealed a very rare back mark. It was "Horstamn's NY & PHI"
A rare back mark, on a very rare Confederate button.
If you're paying attention, you would have noticed, "wait a minute, that's a Civil War Confederate (Southern) Button with a "Yankee" or Union (northern) back mark. This was not uncommon but interesting at the same time. Since then, I have returned to this spot unearthing other relics pertinent to both the American Revolutionary and Civil wars. Like the rare Civil war 12th corps badge shown right or the war of 1812 officers infantry button. I am proud to be a representative of Minelab as a Dealer and 4-H educator in detecting for the kids, 4-H the first metal detecting pit for kids. With Minelab's help, we also have the first kids’ metal detecting program. We call the program, "History Detectives". It is an official 4-H Program to educate kids on proper detecting ethics and history behind the finds. Minelab has been a huge part in the success of this program. Gary Schafer is passionate about the importance of education and the future of our kids for these types of programs. He has not only been a friend, but has proven to be a superb leader for us. He is very involved with the preservation of the amazing hobby we call, "Treasure Hunting".
If you're ever in these parts, give us a shout. We will be glad to give you a tour.