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Virginia Colonial Silver Metal Detecting Find

By: Eric R.


A buddy and I set out on a cold, cloudy Virginia morning in March to detect a permission of crop fields in search of bits of history. Normally these bits are comprised of a button or two, maybe a Civil War mini-ball, and plenty of can-slaw. Little did I know this day would present me with a find of a lifetime! We hunted the fields for a couple of hours with a modicum of luck before moving beyond the wood line to look for evidence of colonial life. The smooth, level crop field we had been hunting transitioned into scrub brush and thorns, and then opened to an impressive expanse of rolling leaf-covered hardwood forest. The kind of forest that you just know others in the past had to also find impressive! As I started down the embankment, swinging my Garrett AT Pro through the thick leaf bed, I picked up a solid, sharp high tone. Zeroing in on the source, I was provided a consistent 82 VDI, very deep -- 8-10 inches down, and a crisp, tight tone that sets a detectorist's nerves alight! As I dug a plug with my PredatorTools Piranha shovel, the dark, rich forest soil fell away...an encouraging sign, the target should be easy to find. A quick ground balance of my Garrett Pro Pointer (aka, Garrett carrot), a single sweep through the soil...and a square corner of silver poked up through the dark dirt. Oh, Wow! As I pulled the buckle from the dirt...carefully brushed my shaking hand across its surface, I ran years of relic research through my head in an instant, trying to assess the reality of what I was seeing. My assessment came back positive...a late 1700s-era solid silver colonial shoe buckle frame, with maker's mark (PB or BB), preserved in pristine condition by that dark, rich Virginia soil! My mind wandered to how it had been lost. Maybe a colonial resident making his way down the hill to gather water from a nearby creek. Or, given this solid silver dandy buckle, perhaps it was a well-to-do young man carelessly running through the woods playing in his fancy shoes. I wonder how long he looked for it so he wouldn't get into trouble back home! Whatever the case, this Virginia day rewarded me with a find of this detectorist's lifetime, nearly 35 years since I first picked up a metal detector!

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