Necklace and Sugar Plumb (sic) Token

This advert is so delightfully worded and cheerfully revolting. The eye-catching newspaper ads of the day show exactly what might be gnawing at your intestines. Source: The General Advertiser 1748.

No groaning, please. You may have seen this stater on a previous occasion, but many haven’t.

When I was a rather inexperienced detectorist and found my first gold stater, I simply thought, “That looks rather nice,” and stowed it away in the pocket of my jeans. 

The use of the word ‘first’ suggests that there may have been more. I live in hope! With the benefit of hindsight and if a second is ever found, a ‘detector dance’ will be executed and ( I wrote at the time), the precious coin placed carefully and snugly inserted between two layers of foam in an old baccy tin, then tucked in the zipped compartment of my finds’ pouch. Time to phone Securicor to escort me home. If I want to show anybody in the field, it’ll take more extracting than an over-packaged Tesco tea bag.  Aye, that all comes with experience and learning. Even though I exaggerate a tad, you will understand my meaning.

Over the years I have regurgitated the next piece of advice in different forms and on many occasions. When you start detecting, ALL FINDS, whether gold or glass should be regarded as interestingly significant in their own way and should be treated as such. DON’T DISCARD ANYTHING until your knowledge has increased and you are absolutely 100% sure that it is the dross you originally thought it was. Although it embarrasses me to relate the tale now, I confess to discarding a large fragment of La Tène brooch thinking it as just another piece of old metal; so I do speak with some authority on the subject.

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The gloves are on . . . or are they?

Weil’s disease (Leptospirosis) is usually caught through contact with soil or water contaminated with animals’ urine . . .

Steve Redgrave’s gold medal partner killed by rats’ disease: Rower dead in days from water-borne illness . . .’

That was the headline I read in a 2010 newspaper about Steve Redgrave’s rowing partner, Andy Holmes, dying of Weil’s disease. Another story warned of deadly bugs lurking inside our dishwashers, and a killer strain of E.coli in vegetables. It got me thinking about the unseen hazards associated with detecting! The World Health Organisation described the strain of lethal bacteria that killed 18 people in Europe as ‘very rare’. Britain reported seven cases. And now we have all the potential dangers of COVID-19.

Weil’s disease is usually caught through contact with soil or water contaminated with animals’ urine

Are you one of those who habitually use your mouth as a coin cleaner or eat your sandwich without washing your hands first? Are you a cavalier detectorist who boasts that you have never met anyone who has subsequently died, think it’s all a scare story and have never met a farmer who wears gloves when muck-spreading? Then my advice is to beware and maybe think twice. Picture shows Andy Holmes and Steve Redgrave showing their medals from the 1988 Olympics.

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‘Gynaecological’ Silver Penny

The featured image shown below is of a King Edward I (reigned 1279-1307) hammered penny.

Until Edward’s reign, the hand-hammered silver penny was the only coin circulating in Britain. Because each was struck by hand, no two coins are ever alike.

A number of my posts in the original blog were lost. That is a pity because they were rather unique and detectorists still ask for them. This short post about the penny is one I have managed to resurrect and added more information.

Living in the close-knit society of a County Durham pit village in the 1940’s was quite a revelation for a small and inquisitive boy. Lots of everyday happenings like birth and death I tended to take for granted; traditions were just accepted and never really questioned.

There were women in the village, always elderly, who were regarded as ‘wise women’. They were trusted and called when there was a birth or death. With the latter, they would attend to the body, washing, preparing and ‘laying it out’.

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My Bucket List

You may read this blog and decide that my bucket list is pants – and you’d be right! What you see in the picture below is a brief and pithy summing up that is a more accurate account. BTW mine is a Pinot Grigio. Could you serve in a tumbler – I have trouble in handling a wine glass. Nah. On second thoughts, just use the bucket!

Just before the lockdown I made a Bucket List but, because of my involuntary incarceration, have only managed to complete a couple of items.  I can hear some of you right now saying, “what the heck is that?” Quite simply . .

A Bucket List is a list of things to do before you die . . . or, ‘kick the bucket’. It was made popular from the film called ‘The Bucket List‘ where two terminally ill guys (Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) meet in a hospital and then set out on an adventure to try and do everything on their lists.

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Flu and Pierced Gold Coins

To modern eyes, the idea that a king or queen could, by virtue of their status, heal disease might seem extraordinary. This was exactly the premise behind the ‘royal touch’, a practice used for many centuries in Europe.

The Swine Flu pandemic in 2010 that never quite came up to expectations, was what reminded me of those pierced gold coins some of us (not me) come across in our detecting meanderings. After my last post on Crudely Holed Coins this blog discusses holed coins of a different nature.

By all means read and perhaps learn from this, but please refrain from pointing it out to Donald Chump, the self-described ‘Chosen One’. Don’t want to give him ideas! And now I make a pledge that from this day forward I will never write, repeat or otherwise dignify that orange moronic ‘leader of the free world,’ Trumplethinskin. That’s enough of that, John. Stick to the point!

The coins with holes are  known as ‘Touchpieces’, from the belief that persons of royal blood were thought to have the ‘God-given’ power of healing. So, what’s the connection with Swine Flu?

Angel of Charles I, the last minted for circulation © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Crudely Holed Coins

“Because of the crudeness of the hole and deformation of the metal the real answer to the rough holes is probably to do with the Great Recoinage of 1696, one of the greatest monetary events in history” . . .


In August 2009 I wrote a short article in The Searcher magazine about crudely holed coins and in 2015 used it – with additional content – in my old blog. When embarking on this new site I was asked if I’d post the blog again because it was informative and very useful. Alas, it was deleted and is now floating around the blogosphere. However, I retained a few notes and, with the help of Wayback Machine, have compiled another that is a more comprehensive blog than the original.

Before I start you may be interested to know that the holed George V gold half sovereign shown below was sold at auction in 2019 for £85.  Buying a 1911 coin  today – classed as VF – you would expect to pay around £260. For a proof example, the value could be nearer £950. 

George V gold half sovereign – 1911

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The Mizpah Brooch

Mizpah means ‘The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another’.


The Mizpah  brooch is a symbol of hope for separated sweethearts and was found by a Detectorist. The jewellery was fashioned in various forms – rings, bangles and lockets and popular in the early 20th century. The general popularity of brooches at this time, as well as the need to accommodate a six-letter word, made them the most popular choice for women. They also offered the opportunity to include sentimental symbols, such as a pair of hearts representing two people united by love, as well as ivy leaves, signifying the closely binding ties of affection.

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