State of Despair

I’ve morphed into the person I am today out of sheer desperation. You may think that this post is reckless, rash, and foolhardy, but it has taken guts to write. Last time I said what I thought, I lost several subscriptions and was banned on a couple of sites for being honest and speaking my mind.

What is happening to the hobby I enjoyed and loved so much?

In the past I have mentioned the quality of photographs of finds put up for identification – more about that later. And the ‘palm shot’ discussed ad nauseam in previous posts. Regular readers will know that I love coins on the palm of the hand pictures, simply because I can hone up on my fortune telling abilities. The hand, always in focus, often with gross finger nails but the palm pin-sharp.

Now its endless pictures of detectors resting on a spade in a field devoid of life that gets my goat. But, let’s be fair. The creative swinger might include a rainbow or a lost lonesome sheep.

There are literally thousands of metal detecting sites on FaceAche via YouTube, all vying for your attention and offering freebies if you ‘LIKE’ the metal detecting videos. You might say that I don’t have to watch them – and I don’t any more! Most of them are far too long. Consider making your epics lasting 3-4 minutes; skip long intros, hole digging and long sifting footage-they are not interesting. Just pause the video and restart it with the hole open.

When I started in the hobby there were few forums, no videos, FB or pin-pointers. Happy days. We were metal detectorists, not bliddy film makers. Surely I am not the only one who thinks that 90% of videos are tedious to watch. Nowadays it is essential for many-especially newcomers-to think that a means of recording your boring exploits is infra-dig (sic). If I was detecting today, I would certainly add a pin-pointer to my arsenal.

I once held a competition for a different, innovative picture. The catalyst was Michael Lander, detectorist and Swedish guy, whose pictures had featured on several editions of The Searcher magazine. I invited readers to try to produce a similar or other innovative detecting shot and said that The Searcher would award a Minelab Pro-Find to the person sending in the best overall picture.

The shot of a beaming Alan Loftus holding a George V penny is crisp and a good example of the genre. He looks very happy as you do when finding a coin. The colours are vibrant and the blue sky enhances the image. This was a popular first choice and Alan was the winner of the Minelab Pro-Find.

When I was an administrator on a detecting forum, I wrote the following:

I think that most members (of this forum) are pleased to see the finds of others and also to share in their excitement. Alas, unfortunately and downright irritating, artefacts and coins are often presented in such a way that a positive identification is almost impossible. You know what I mean. Pitiful, blurred and often dark ‘pictures’ taken on a phone showing 90% of unnecessary background. Some members on here provide excellent service and they need as much information as possible. Please help them to help you.

I know that many of you may struggle with the technical side of taking pictures, and showing them in a forum post. Your ‘great’ find is special to you and it should be as equally interesting to us. The least you can do is present it in the best way you can? Do something about it. People are not keen on advising you on how a crappy picture can be improved so you don’t learn and always give a ‘well done’ or ‘awesome ‘ type comment.

Remember that you will always get a better service if you supply all the information. Always supply at least TWO good sized, but not too large, CLEAR photographs. Show an indication of size by placing them next to a scale or ruler. Some people may use a small coin familiar to all of us. Please don’t have more background than the article you wish to be identified.

Tell us any information you already know – like the legend around a coin. Information about where the item was found or your detecting day, type of land, machine used etcetera always adds ‘colour’ and makes your post interesting.

Remember

You will always get a better ID if you can supply more information! Be prepared to take constructive criticism. Learn by your mistakes.

The Wendover Hoard

© John Winter – Picture shows the finders, Peter Brown (L) and Richard Barry

Wendover is a picturesque village in Buckinghamshire and often described as the gateway to the Chiltern Hills. I know it well. My wife and I married at St Mary’s parish church, our children attended the local primary school and I taught at the secondary school for nearly 40 years. Members of our family lie at rest in the churchyard. This setting is where my story takes place and is from an article I wrote in 2012 – and is very special to me – I hope you like it.

Continue reading “The Wendover Hoard”

WINDOW TAX and CLIPPED COINS

Although it might seem ridiculous today, there was a time in England when people were taxed for having windows in their home!  But, if you’ve read my previous posts, that information will come as no surprise.

Picture courtesy of Jo Folkes / Flicker

In the eyes of lawmakers the window tax was a brilliant way to put the burden of tax on the shoulder of the upper class. The rich usually had larger houses with more windows, and so were liable to pay more taxes.

Of course the tax was unpopular with many, as it was seen as ‘a tax on light and air.’ Many windows were blocked up with bricks or boards in order to avoid paying the window tax. Some old buildings, like my example, still show the signs of the window tax, where bricked up windows were never replaced. So, the tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house.and was introduced by King William III in 1696 and remained in force for 156 years, until 1851. The lack of windows led to dark, damp tenement houses that spread disease and ill-health among the working class. Medical professionals and well-educated people began to complain that the window tax was increasing the risk of epidemics in crowded and unsanitary properties. Campaigners finally succeeded in lifting the tax in 1851, when it was replaced with a house tax instead.

Daylight Robbery

The phrase ‘daylight robbery’ originated from the window tax, and was described by some as a “tax on light” Blocking up windows was literally DAYLIGHT ROBBERY.

In 1850, Dickens wrote about the window tax in Household Words, a magazine that he published for a number of years:

“The adage ‘free as air’ has become obsolete by Act of Parliament. Neither air nor light have been free since the imposition of the window-tax. We are obliged to pay for what nature lavishly supplies to all, at so much per window per year; and the poor who cannot afford the expense are stinted in two of the most urgent necessities of life.”

Charles Dickens
Continue reading “WINDOW TAX and CLIPPED COINS”