The Find of A Lifetime: Silver Hoard
By: Anon A.
Metal detecting is a time consuming hobby with limited returns, but occasionally something good turns up and reinforces hope and persistence. An unusual turn of events lead me to the best invitation ever. While helping a customer at his rental unit, he needed a fitting and asked if I would wait twenty minutes while he went for one; Sure, and could I metal detect this old dirt yard for coins with my detector?” “Sure, go ahead.” Well the 1930’s year should have had better finds than rusty bottle caps and scrap junk. When he returned I showed him the worthless stuff and gave him the old 2” metal car I had found. While assisting in his venture he asked if I had been hunting a long time. “Thirty years,” my response. He said he had purchased a house, whose seller (the heir) said his father supposedly had buried a toolbox with silver coins in the crawl space. “Are you interested?” I replied, “I’m in!” So we set a Sunday afternoon time. He called and we met there; he with a headlamp, a metal detector, and a drill to bore holes into the dirt. I had my Fisher F-75 detector, a flashlight, and a two-foot spade. It was a split-level home with an access panel beside a den. He had painted the panel closed and asked for my knife to cut the paint and regain access. He informed me the heir had been unable to find the tool box and they agreed that if the box was discovered, they would split it half-and-half. The new owner himself had tried with his metal detector (not having experience at using it) without success. The entry (about 14” x 16”) was about level with the dirt base beyond. Adjusting to the light, overhead joists and the area beyond, stretching nearly thirty feet we proceeded. He starts and drills the dirt at each signal. My F-75 is set wrong, with too many target responses; so I pushed a button and it quietened. After Several sweeps preceeding in over twelve feet, a “Waawoo, waawoo” sound was emitted. He asked what that noise meant, I responded maybe a can; not a coin or ring signal. Checked the signal again, and started brushing some loose dirt away to find the source with dust fogging. Brushed more down, four inches to a flat metal; then a handle appeared! He is quick to approach and I said “We need video!” His phone camera records the minutes afterward, the surrounding dirt surface is July-hard, except close to the box. “This looks good!” I said. After clearing around the sides with the spade, he grabs the handle to heave-ho the box up — but it is stuck firm. With the spade, I tried to budge it; and after a bit was able to pry one corner to movement. We were able to tip the box to one end. He said “That’s heavy!” I agreed. We lifted it out to the surface, it is the gray-brown “Craftsman” tool box of the 1960s. With considerable effort the box is pushed to the exit. He had brought a blanket to protect his new flooring from our egress. From the outside I helped move it from the entrance. Wow! It is beautiful; with masking-taped clasps and lid seams. He is shocked that it was found and wants his wife to come over. I asked him to bring a weight scales. We weighted it: an astonishing 114 pounds (Avoirdupois). Opening the lid we saw a jumble of rolled and tubed coins; a full four inches deep. He unloaded over 200 rolls; plus mint sets, an envelope with silver certificates, war nickel rolls and more… — NO pennies. I stood in disbelief, and considered the man that had gathered and saved the valuable silver coinage to bestow to his children. Just guessing: I suspect he had a vending route or a coin-laundry during the late 1960s enabling the collection, and the chest was inside the house to easily access and add to the contents. At a point, he probably buried it in the early 1990s. His children had moved far away. At his declining health he instructed them not to forget the toolbox with silver coins. The heir got the news that the vault had been recovered. He came here and the contents were divided as to their agreement. And, as for me, it gave great thrill to have recovered that family’s vault and resulted in an opportunity to unearth the find of a lifetime.