Saturday, 5 March 2016

Beep... beep... beeeeeeeep!

I've found one!

I mentioned a few days ago that I'd bought a Garrett Ace 250 metal detector so I could go digging for history around The Lodge, the first decent find from which was an aluminium thimble.

That simple thing - probably given away as a promotional item around the beginning of 1900 - kept us smiling for days, but it wasn't quite enough.

Because I'm an uncomplicated kind of chap the whole point of me getting the metal detector was to find coins. For me, coins represent the passage of time and history in a way that things can't do.
They're minted in a particular year which is clearly stated (unless you go even further back in time), then spend the rest of their lives being passed around by maybe hundreds or thousands of people as they go about their daily lives. Coins would be used to pay rent or wages or be offered in exchange for bread, meats, cleaning products, Calvert's Carbolic Tooth Powder, jewellery, clothing... stuff to make peoples' lives better or prettier or easier or whatever. None of this internet banking lark. No debit cards or contactless payments. Pah. These are from a time when cash was king.

It just feels like there's more life in old coins. Does that make sense or am I talking rubbish?

King Georgivs V couldn't even spell his own name
Anyway, I've found one!
After nigh-on 100 years buried in the mud, along comes an idiot with a fancy machine that he can't use properly and suddenly it's back in the daylight. I know metal detectorists treat such finds with little more than idle curiosity once they get used to digging them up, but for Dawn and I it's perfect and hopefully the first of many.

The obverse (I've been Googling) is in good condition and clearly shows that it's a George V copper penny, complete with monster moustache, which places it between 1911 and 1936.
The reverse is in poor condition, but you can just make out Britannia and the fact that there's a date there too, but it's very unclear. 

I've given it a brief rub with a vinegar and salt mixture, which has lifted some of the grime and decay, but it's still not entirely clear - 1916? That would certainly be a happy coincidence.
Nevertheless it's now soaking in olive oil for a few days, which also apparently helps, and hopefully I'll be able to read it better towards the end of next week. I'll update this post with new pictures when I can but in the meantime I might set up a 'metal detecting finds' page so I don't have to bore everyone with tales of my latest Tizer can ring-pull whenever one makes an appearance.

EDIT - I made the page then I ditched it. I've run out of land to detect so while I write to local farmers for permission to roam their land and wait for their replies (I'm expecting it to take months) I've loaned the metal detector to a friend.

1916, maybe?

EDIT (March 10)

After posting this I decided to give the coin a brief soak in the salt/vinegar solution - just 10 minutes or so... then went to bed. Needless to say I'd made a right mess of it, with dull grey blotches, green patches and general unpleasantness on both faces. Not only was the tarnish still there but it was 10x worse. The only area of tarnish to come away encompassed the date, so it seems the pic above was always going to be the best I could get.My first coin (discounting a 1988 2p)... I was gutted. So I Googled again, where it seems the best advice is that less is more when it comes to cleaning. Toothbrush, water, nothing more.

But if you have to clean them up electrolysis is, apparently, the answer.

So having knocked together a DIY electrolysis bath out of an old 12v phone charger, some alligator clips, salty water and a spoon I left the coin fizzing away for a couple of hours. Of course when I say 'left', what I mean is 'switched off and checked obsessively every two minutes'.

Despite losing the date altogether the result is actually very good. I'm delighted that I've managed to save the coin and keep the it nice to look at.
George himself looks good (although to be fair he also looked good with the black 'just found' patina too. Britannia, on the other hand, has come up a treat. She could barely be seen originally but now you can certainly make her out, especially in the right light.

Anyway, enough of this. Photos.

How she would have looked in happier days

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