Wheats Don't Count Part 2
A TQ Original by TQ Member Free2Dtect
The 2003 metal detecting season still had several months remaining. I continued to hunt locations where houses were removed for special projects. The city was doing an area around the corner of Hood and 4th Street. This area had 3 houses removed. It was a long drawn out project to straighten a dangerous curve in the road. I had gotten in to hunt the area and found a nice 1868 Indian head and another dated 1907. The area had promise, but only after time and looking back did I realize the vast amount of coins and relics the area contained.
The hunt site was about 200 feet long and about a half a block wide. Three houses were condemned and knocked down. This created quite a bit of scrap metal and many signals to come for some time. Across the alley was an old brick house that one could plainly see was from the 1800's. On the other side of the street was a triangular piece of ground that once was the site of a blacksmith's shop. In the early stages of the demolition of this site, the crews removed the clothes line posts for personal use at one of their homes. In doing so, they toppled some tall lilac bushes exposing the dirt and roots. I scanned this small area and was rewarded with an Indian Head cent from the 1890's. Targets were plentiful, but good targets were slow in coming. Conditions were to change fast in a few short days. Soon the building rubble was completely removed. Heavy equipment scraped off layers of topsoil, in places they went as deep as a foot or more. It was at this point of hunting the site that I noticed square nails. These homes that were condemned were not old enough to have used square nails. I came to the conclusion that at least two buildings had stood in this location.
The mystery disk
Hunting this large expanse of open older layers of dirt was a challenge. Much of the trash in the past was thrown in the outhouse or burned. Some items were just dropped, the better ones by accident. These were the days when all women taught their daughters to mend the holes in pockets and sew. These areas are quite trashy, but the rewards are there if one hunts slowly. The key to finding the better items is to dig all positive signals. I always removed my trash and that of others. Nothing was more disappointing then digging a great signal and finding it was something I had uncovered once before. Two finds that I made hunting here stand out...
A nice shape 1915 Buffalo Nickel and one a mysterious small silver disk. The Buffalo was in great shape for its age. Most times the dates were worn off on the early ones from circulation. This one must have been dropped soon after it was minted. The mysterious silver disk remained a mystery for several months after I had found it. It wasn't till the winter months that I took the time to look more closely and noticed this disk had a reeded edge. (The photos did not turn out as planned for the mystery disk) So I might as well describe the disk. It was somewhat out of shape and flattened. A small hole was thru it, it appeared to be a small square nail hole. I looked closely with a 10 power loop and discovered it had a reeded edge. Closer examination reveal faint stars and on one side Hal- Dim-!
I had found a old worn out Half Dime, was it a Seated or Bust Dime? To this day I still wonder which one it was. It was my oldest U.S. coin so far, but I could hardly count it except for it's bullion value. I believe I logged the find at a value of $.30, the current silver bullion value. In the future I would find yet another Half Dime that one too, was in sad shape.
This set line tag (left) was found hunting a lot where another house was torn down. It is dated 1910 and held up well over the years. It was a nice little find and the only set line tag I ever found. Hard to find due to a set line was a fishing line and used in the water. I believe set lines are now illegal in Wisconsin.
One day I was hunting the lot where the three houses were torn down. Another older gentleman was also hunting the location. I was in one area and he in another. I received a nice signal and dug up a bent piece of brass. I looked at it and let out a yell. He came over and looked at my find. We were both in disbelief as we looked at the brass officer's plate. I hunted some more and started digging other low readings. In a short time I had several staff officers coat and cuff buttons. In the past I had read an article about some fellow finding a U S plate in Iowa. I had found my only Civil War plate in LaCrosse Wisconsin. Later I was to learn it was a officer sash buckle. The following spring this area gave up a Wisconsin State Seal button also, it had the hook attachment on the back instead of the round brass loop. I do not have a picture of the Wisconsin Seal button anymore. By the end of my third season of hunting I had a nice collection of the civil war stuff without ever traveling out of town.
Below is a rare token, it is rare due to the fact it is an octagon. The ones listed in the Wisconsin trade token book are round. The local coin dealer claimed it was the first he had ever seen. An offer was made for it $20. But when a coin dealer offers a price you can bet it is worth much more to a collector. The find was made at yet another house demo site. I remember being very pleased when I dug this one up. Being that it was in good shape and an octagon no less. "Good For One Drink" tokens are very collectable. History of the token: The Governer Guard was a organization of Civil War veterans who so I understand did good deeds and such after the war. Rough estimate of the date of the token is 1870.
Below is my first nice button Illinois state seal. I always believed this was a Civil War button, but posting it in the past I was told post-Civil War. This came from yet another yard demo site. It was found in the dead of winter in Wisconsin. Yes one can metal detect in the frozen north at that time of year. The key to hunting in very cold weather is to hunt locations where the dark earth is exposed. A south-facing slope of ground well, on a sunny day warm up enough to dig down a couple of inches. This button managed to retain much of it's gold gilt. An interest part of the Civil War finds is that a friend in LaCrosse was a member of an reenacting group known as the Iron Brigade. He also metal detected and had gone to such places as Gettysburg with his group and was refused permission to detect private land. When he was shown the Civil War stuff I had found in our home town, he shook his head in disbelief. I gave him a button or two before I moved out to Montana. I wonder if he has found any back home yet?
One of my favorite types of finds, Dog Tax Tags! If you find these folks do not part with them. Check the prices of these much in demand collectibles. Pre-1900 U.S. Dog Tax Tags are worth a easy $150 or more a piece. All three I found had come from the same yard. I always wondered if they belonged to the same dog? This house demo site happened to be the one I had found the Barber dime and Liberty nickel in the same hole in front of the youngster on 10th and Ferry Street. The 1902 is a hard to find date, it and the 1905 were cleaned due to I could not tell what they were. The 1902 is known as a pictorial tag. I never found a pre-1900 tag, it well remain on my wish list.
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