Baffling Disk

In November 2007 on an American forum, an English detectorist reported that he had found a ‘round brass tag’ on a beach. He said the object had a hole on the top ‘to hang it from something’, with the words COSMOS LINE on one side and AFTER USE RE-COIL CLOCKWISE on the other. The disk baffled him, and he looked for an identification. The picture below shows what he found.

Described on the Net as a Token, Coin or Jeton

Americans scoured Mr. Google and there were several possible leads, but all incorrect. There was one long and involved explanation saying – basically – that COSMOS was a shipping line (beach connection?) and the artefact sounded like a fire hose reel tag. The original poster welcomed the explanation and thought that the item could be from a shipwreck. Not a bad explanation and conclusion, but incorrect.

Other attempts at identification were rather more fanciful.’Numista’ who should know better, said that the scope of the product was unknown and it was a ‘miscellaneous’ token definitely used on the Cosmos Line ships. Wrong on both counts, I reckon. Cosmos Shipping Ltd was established in 1993 and now has a world leading container fleet. This artefact looks older. ‘World of Coins’ said . . . doubt the item has anything to do with the shipping line of this name. Perhaps fishing line. We’re getting there!

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For Detectorists Who Just Whine on … and on … and on

A couple of things were the catalyst for this blog post. The first was from a friend of mine bemoaning the fact that whenever he visited detecting sites, it seemed to be the same ‘hard core group’ keeping the forum active – and that’s true. I have often seen that Administrators urge people to contribute more.

The other, from the mouth of a serial whiner was a terse, “There are too many bloody blogs.”

Nice alliteration!

Self Doubts

I pointed out that the core group on any forum were usually the retired, the unemployed and those with time on their hands – for whatever reason. Other, younger detectorists, are busy working, earning a crust, raising a family, and coping with a myriad of other tasks, including getting on with their lives. They don’t have the same luxury as us wrinklies … and that ‘commodity’ is TIME. And, although I try to keep myself busy, I’ve still got a surplus of that! One thing I do with this bonus is maintain my blog – about the ONLY thing I can do. I enjoy writing about and keeping up with the hobby and, I suppose, that has always been the point.

December 2010 was my rather hesitant foray into the blogosphere and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing there – apart from giving me that purpose in life. In the early days I talked with Dick Stout about why we kept a blog. He summed it up admirably in a well-written blog …

“I’ve often thought that blogging was a self-centred way to promote yourself, but I find it creative and fun, in that I try to pass on things about the metal detecting pastime that I’ve learned over the years, and in the process, try to get a laugh or two out of my subscribers. Dick.

Along with many of you who leave the occasional response on my blog, Dick has kept me going in periods of self-doubt and I thank him, but perhaps I owe more to Bacchus, the Roman god of the grape harvest … or should that be the Greek god Dionysus? In Greek mythology, in addition to being the god of wine, he was also a champion of ritual madness! Yup! He’s more my kind of guy.

>>> Statue of Dionysus. Marble, 2nd century – found in Italy. Unknown artist.

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George and William

23 April – St.George’s Day

One of the earliest depictions of George slaying the dragon. 10th or 11th century – artist unknown

St. George’s day April 23, is supposedly England’s special day. Actually, we have no official national day and it largely goes uncelebrated, which is a shame as George is our patron saint. His emblem, a red cross on a white background, is the flag of England and part of the British flag. It is believed that George was a brave Roman soldier who protested against the Romans’ torture of Christians and died for his beliefs. The popularity of St George in England stems from the time of the early Crusades when it is said that the Normans saw him in a vision and were victorious. His image appears on many of our UK coins.

Finger Ring

Few examples of medieval finger rings depicting St George and the Dragon are known.

This rare 600-year-old gold finger ring, complete with a St. George and the dragon engraving, was unearthed by a detectorist in Norfolk. The Guild of St. George operated in Norwich between 1385 and 1548 and the ring demonstrated his popularity at the time.

The bezel is engraved with the figure of St George standing on the Dragon, with a spear held almost vertically in his right hand and thrust down the monster’s throat, and with a shield in his left hand bearing his cross. He wears a pointed bascinet (a close-fitting helmet, typically having a visor).

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The Gold Seal Matrix Love Token

The Rookie Detectorist

It’s always a pleasure to write about the success of the ‘rookie’ detectorist, the first time guy who discovers something magnificent after a few weeks – or just days – searching. I think the last one I highlighted in my scribblings was David Booth who found four Iron Age torcs in a Stirlingshire field. This was a magnificent find and even more remarkable when we realise that the hoard was found with a so-called entry-level detector, the Garrett Ace 250!

For many detectorists wielding their high-end machines costing over a Grand it can be particularly galling – especially when they have been searching for years and have yet to find their personal Holy Grail. Nevertheless, you will no doubt want to celebrate the find and the subject of this particular inspirational (albeit sad story) of another great find that I am about to relate.

Enter our hero, computer engineer Brian Kirby of Yorkshire who purchased his first detector, a Minelab 705 on New Year’s Day in 2010. If you remember, Yorkshire and indeed much of the country was covered in snow at that time so, frustratingly, Brian was unable to get out detecting.

While testing the machine in local woodland, Brian found a silver spoon. This must have been an omen! During the next few months he did go on a couple of digs as a guest and eventually secured permission to search on 12 acres of pasture. After three or four visits he amassed a pile of Victorian and pre-decimal coppers plus a few interesting partefacts. His best find was a George II halfpenny! “Nothing to get even a novice interested,” Brian ruefully told me.

One afternoon and after only four or five weeks detecting, Brian had a couple of hours to spare. He decided to ‘have a go’ over part of the pasture that had been too wet to search on previous visits. Once again he found more pre-decimal coppers.

As many beginners do, Brian was digging at almost every beep. It was getting dark and he started to dig what he thought was another poor signal. He described what happened next: “I saw the glint of gold as soon as I turned the first spade full of soil over. The dirt just fell off when I picked it up and the object looked new – as if it had just been made. The hinge moved freely!”

Brian’s eyesight was not too good and the light was fading, so he set off for home, convinced that he had found a modern cufflink or something of the sort. However, when he arrived back and had a closer look, he realised that his find was quite special! His suspicions were confirmed after he had placed his find for identification on a couple of Internet detecting forums. He had, indeed, found ‘treasure’.

What Brian had found was a small gold seal matrix of the early post-medieval period. The British Museum said that the seal was very unusual, as ‘we don’t often get them intact’. Rod Blunt of the UKDFD said the fact that the handle was hinged AND inscribed was also unusual.  The matrix, which weighs just two grammes and is just over 14mm long, would have been used for sealing letters with hot wax…of course you knew that already, didn’t you?

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