Ten things to make from a discarded Garrett Pro-Pointer box.
NOT to be taken seriously! 🙂

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 is always in focus and the lines pin-sharp.

Listicles are everywhere, and you must be familiar with the genre. ‘10 celebrities who have aged badly; 20 ways to insult someone without cursing; 15 signs that you are not a nice person, or 10 things to make out of discarded Garrett probe boxes’.

You get the gist; the world seems to have gone list crazy. But it makes for lazy writing … and easier to do a blog post, of course! Not only that, listicles suit hard-pressed writers and time-poor readers. At the end of the day it’s a win-win situation, innit?

With this in mind, I have been looking closely at the listicles that regularly frequent newspapers, magazines and the Web. For those who don’t know, the word is made up of ‘list’ and ‘article’. Followers of Lewis Carroll will recognise the form as a ‘portmanteau’ word. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as ‘an article that takes the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list.’

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Compass Pretending to be a Button

During World War Two, the British Directorate of Military Intelligence developed a great number of secret means to conceal tools and instruments in harmless looking objects for everyday use. For example, the tunic button shown below conceals a compass.

The Humble Buttons Wartime Secret

RAF Tunic Button. Kind permission of Wouter Has of

The Quartermaster (Q) in the Bond films, who produced and demonstrated gadgets for James, always intrigued me. It became an expected scene in the film when he demonstrated Bond’s assigned tools for the mission, and it was a near guarantee that each and every piece would prove to be invaluable.

I was reminded of those gadgets when I heard about the humble buttons wartime secret. Buttons are the bane of some detectorists; they don’t like finding them, but I hope this little story makes them stand back and take a second look.

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A Hit or a Myth?

Do classical allusions elude you, or do you geek out over Greek? Do sagas drive you gaga, or do you have a great liking for Vikings? Either way, this blog could be for you!

A blog post with little metal detecting content …

Human beings wouldn’t be human if they didn’t question the world about them. Many thousands of years ago, men must have looked out of their caves and wondered about what they saw. What made the lightning flash? Where did the wind come from?

Man wondered about himself, too. Why did he get sick sometimes and eventually die? Who first taught him to use fire?

There must have been any number of questions but there were no answers. These were the days before science, before men had learned to experiment in order to determine the how’s and why’s of the universe. So what he did was to invent what seemed to be the most logical answers. Every group of human beings made up such stories . . . and foremost in excellence were the ancient Greeks. They were a lively, imaginative people with great literary talents and they made up the most fascinating tales that they called ‘mythos’, a Greek word that simply means ‘tale’ or ‘story’. The myth!

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The fibula, brooch, or pin, was originally used in Greek and Roman dress for fastening garments. The fibula developed in a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety-pin principle.

An Improvement on the Fibula

A few years ago Mrs. John went along to a talk at her local Embroiderer’s Guild and when she arrived home proceeded to tell me of a New Yorker by the name of Walter Hunt. Don’t worry, I’d never heard of him either!

Hunt’s invention was not entirely novel; it was actually an improvement on a concept that the ancient Romans had used in jewelry, namely, fibulae, or brooches. His was not the first contemporary version of the safety pin either.  A version appeared in 1842 that did not include the spring mechanism that Hunt designed. This feature, of course, exists in virtually all safety pins the world is accustomed to using today.

The safety pin – The descendant of the fibula

Diligent research in the archives – with the help of Mr. Google – told me more. Hunt is often described as ‘the inventor of the safety pin’ (in the 1900’s), but most detectorists know that the safety pin, or devices virtually identical to it, had been in use for more than 2,500 years. Greece and Rome had its own forms of safety pins and clasp called the FIBULA (ancient brooch). There are so many different varieties that they are often used to accurately date an entire archaeological find. The fibula is an ancient precursor to the safety pin and used in the ancient world to keep togas, cloaks, hoods and other kinds of clothing fastened in place.

The fibula developed in a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety-pin principle. Unlike most modern brooches, fibulae wernot only decorative; they originally served a practical function: to fasten clothing, such as cloaks. … In turn, fibulae were replaced as clothing fasteners by buttons in the Middle Ages.

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In 1968 when I was poorer and even more impoverished than I am now, my mother-in-law helped me to purchase a sixth-hand, white, Saab 96 two-stroke car. I still have the mug!

The Virgin Searcher

The following quote is from Andy Caley’s engaging and hilarious book, The Virgin Searcher available on Amazon. “Andrew Caley is a popular writer for one of the UK’s best-selling metal detecting magazines”. They were talking about The Searcher, of course. Here’s a short quote from the book – Andy is speaking.

Hot Diggity Dog introduces me to Jewel Hunter, Soil Boy, Holey Moly, Bog Lurker, Dirt Diver, Penetrator, Sweatstain, Fatboy and Mrs. Doubtfire.

You not got a nickname?” asks one. “Er, well, yes . . . um.” And then I hear myself blurt it out. “Captain Underpants.” What am I thinking? Why not say Treasure Hunter, Duke of Torc or even Goldenballs? Too late. Captain Underpants it is.”

Extract from The Virgin Searcher

I chose the above extract as my introduction because, when we start detecting and join a forum, a funny name or pseudonym is sometimes needed. I now know better. Andy’s examples are hilarious. I also liked‘ Bog Lurker’ and Bent Spoon, but my all-time favourite is ‘Bellend’.

Andy is a self-confessed ‘saddoe’ who braves all weathers and the mud to unearth ‘the lost, the buried and the forgotten’. He’s a metal detectorist who goes by the name of Captain Underpants. 🙂

So, when I started in the hobby MY nickname was SAABMAN. Can you guess what Mrs. John was called? For years many people didn’t know my real name. When I started writing for magazines the byline was usually ‘John Winter aka Saabman’. Even today many of my friends refer to me with my pseudonym. The history and reason I chose that name follows . . .

The Saab Enthusiast

In 1968 when I was poorer and even more impoverished than I am now, my mother-in-law helped me to purchase a sixth-hand, white, Saab 96 two-stroke car. I remember that the battery earth cable was rather worse for wear so, being resourceful, I filched some wire from the cooker and we used a gas ring instead. So began my long association with Saabs.

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When examining a penny from the hoard he found, Randy Dee had quite a surprise.

Victoria’s Elephant

Many people thought that Queen Victoria’s first shilling was the most extraordinary coin ever struck, simply because it portrayed the head of an Indian elephant … or so they said. Makes me think that the Victorians (or the early Daily Mail) had vivid imaginations! Like the William coin shown last time, constant wear made the ‘image’ more pronounced, this time in the shape of an elephant. Anyway, having being told, I can now envisage the pachyderm … or is it just a bun? Can YOU see it?

Now can you see it? Only people with imagination need apply.

Portraits on coins sometimes cause controversy and are often criticised. In 1952, artist Mary Gillick’s design of a new ‘Elizabeth II head’ for a set of coins did just that. She showed the Queen in profile as a girl with an unusually long graceful neck and a laurel leaf in her hair.

Sculptor Jacob Epstein, whose own work often aroused controversy, said: “it might be any pretty girl. It isn’t a good likeness, as far as I can judge.” Perhaps he was annoyed at not getting the commission himself!

Newspapers printed the artist’s version alongside pictures of the Queen in similar profile and asked readers what they thought. Humphrey Paget, who designed the head of King George VI for the last reign, defended Mrs. Gillick’s work. “It is a very pleasant design,” he said. “The Queen has a long neck. I have taken measurements.”

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