Here we will periodically share articles and extracts from the Treasure Talk Magazine to give you a look into the beginning and development of the hobby of treasure detecting in South Africa. You will be introduced to the individuals, metal detectors and the businesses that played a role from then to now.
TREASURE TALK DECEMBER 1997
Metaalverklikkers is een van die mees interresante en groeiende stokperdjies in Suid-Afrika. Die stokperdjie is seker al meer as 30 jaar aktief in SA. Tot dusver is daar nie juis publikasies oor die stokperdjie nie, daarom wil ons daarna streef of al die nuus oor wat ookal in die land aangaan aangaande skattejag aan almal oor te dra. Daar bestaan heelwat klubs, en ons wil graag meer van hulle hoor.
Treasure and relic hunting is one of the more enjoyable and healthy hobbies and is well within the range of most of our pockets. “TREASURE TALK” will be a family magazine enjoyed by the whole family. It will consist of every type of treasure hunting like bottle collecting, coins, treasure, relics, diving, etc.
So let us know how you are doing by dropping us a line together with photos. Who knows, you could be in our next issue!
Baie groete, en ek hoop ek sien u sommer baie gou in die veld.
Lukas van der Merwe
TREASURE ON THE BEACHES
By Anthony Venish
Well, it’s another summer just about gone, and we will be back into my favorite time of the year when the wind how and blow. I am hoping that Mother Nature will be kind and release her hold on a few of the goodies that she keeps hidden from us simple people. I remember last winter when we went to the beaches and found an abundance of old coins, gold items and plenty of silver Jewellery, as it was most probably due to the fact that we encountered one of our worst storms.
It caused havoc to our coastline, some with advantageous effects while in other parts it ruined all the possibilities of detecting as the sand was so high. At this one productive beach, I found a number of the older coins, as the sand had dropped 1 meter and produced layers of black sand.
There were even those enormous concrete blocks that hold the sign boars up, lying at the bottom of the sand and you wouldn’t believe that in summer you are actually lying on top of them.
One day I walked of the beach with four gold items. I truly was on a high and it was well worth digging up all those bottle tops which we hate to find, if that was the result. One of them was a nice men’s 18ct gold ring with some sort of crest on it. When I get time I will go into trying to find out a bit more about the crest.
I have bought this wet suit to metal detect in the water and have on a few occasions, found some good finds. I usually do this when the sand is piled high on the beaches. At one time, while detecting in the water I came across this baby penguin that had been thrown off course by the stormy waters. She was totally exhausted and would never have survived. Today, she has been reunited to a colony of penguins at the Boulders. That really was a UNIQUE FIND! That is why I also enjoy metal detecting because you are so close to nature.
HOW FAR WILL MY DETECTOR GO?
This is the question most frequently asked by metal detector users. It is also a question with no definite of absolute answer. In addition to the capabilities of your detector, the following situations will also have a bearing on depth.
CONDUCTIVE PROPERTIES OF THE SOIL
Heavily mineralized soil will tend to educe the penetration power of your detector. This may vary greatly, and you will have to rebalance your instrument according to the soil conditions.
THE LENGTH OF TIME AN OBJECT IS BURRIED
There are various chemicals in the soil that have a corrosive action on metal. Some metals corrode faster than others. A copper penny is attacked by chemicals in the soil quite easily, whereas the action on gold is hardly noticeable. As the soil chemicals eat away at the metal, oxidation takes place. These oxides are observed into the soil surrounding the metal.
THE SIZE OF AN OBJECT
The larger the object, the easier and deeper it can be detected. For example, a pot or bucket can be detected much easier than a single coin. The more surface areas exposed to the search head, the easier it is to detect.
THE SHAPE OF AN OBJECT
Every object reradiates at les part of the signal transmitted by you instrument. In this way, the object functions like additional antennas, and consequently their shape becomes important. Ring-shaped or loop shaped objects that are lying flat in the ground produce the best results; flat or dish-shaped objects are also easy to detect. Rop-shaped items, especially when scanned on the end are very difficult to detect.
Beachcombing – The Bank Is Always Open!
A vast fortune in money, Jewellery, watches, and other valuables totaling hundreds of thousands of Rands are waiting to be recovered from beaches. Over the decades the beaches have become an underground bank which is growing larger with each holiday season.
Beachcomber have been dipping into this bank beneath the sands for years, retrieving coins, rings and much more. Some beachcombers retrieve as many coins that they no longer count them but weigh them instead. Coins are not the only things being retrieved, watches, chains, rings and other valuables are found in abundance.
Beachcombing is not new; it’s been practiced for years by people using little more than their eyes to spot the wealth as it becomes uncovered by wind and sea. The problem with this method is that for every item picked up there are countless more just out of sight beneath the sand.
The guardians of this bank, the sand, wind and sea, do not give up their wealth easily. To be successful requires the right combination which includes choosing the right beach, the right equipment, knowing how to use the equipment and being prepared to persevere.
Choosing a beach is not that difficult. It’s really just a matter of finding out which ones are the most popular, the more popular a beach the better your chances are.
Beaches that are serviced by vendors encourage people to take money to the beach to spend, so that these beaches generally have more coins lost than on beaches where no such service is offered.
Swimming patterns change and this can also influence the finds that are made. A beach that is deserted today may have been very popular decades ago. These older beaches can offer more because they have been searched less and also produce older finds.
The choice of a metal detector is critical as it is imperative to be able to work both the dry and wet sand areas for the greatest success. The dry sand does not present much of a problem and most detectors can be made to work this area; it is the wet sand however that produces the greatest problem. The reason being that when the beach sand becomes wet, as between the high and low tide mark, it is conductive and makes operation of a metal detector extremely difficult if not impossible unless the metal detector is of a type that can ignore this ground effect.
The two types of metal detector that can do this most successfully are the new automatic ground eliminating metal detectors and the pulse induction type. The new automatic ground cancelling detectors such as the Garrett Freedom Ace contain the very latest technology and have proven themselves to be highly successful on the beach, often outperforming far more expensive equipment.
The popularity of these detectors can be appreciated when total strangers to beachcombing start finding coins and other valuables on their very first outing. One Durban beachcomber who decided to buy one of these detectors recovered the cost of the machine within a year with items he found.
The other advantage of this type of detector is that it can also be used successfully for other treasure hunting activities such as coin and relic hunting.
Perseverance plays a major role in the results that are achieved. Contrary to what some people may tell you, beachcombing is not a get rich quick hobby. There are those who have been fortunate and struck it lucky almost on the first time out but don’t bank on doing the same. It’s been proven time and again that consistency is the key.
One persistent beachcomber had only a few cents to show for four consecutive evenings searching, enough to convince many to give up. The next night he was down at the beach again when he hit the jackpot, four rings in the space of a few minutes.
When people hear of these success stories, they find it hard to believe that the beach can kep producing cons and Jewellery year after year.
The secret is that more people come to the beach every year and together with the shifting of the sands and tides, objects are being continuously covered and uncovered. The more people go to the beach the more that is lost. When you think about it there are many ways in which coins and Jewellery are lost. You more than likely have lost something at the beach yourself.
Loose change can fall out of a pocket when a hankey or keys are removed from the pocket, they can also get lost when people change or make a purchase from a beach vendor. The sand being soft, there is no sound to alert the person to the lost items. Suntan oil causes many rings to easily slip of fingers adding to the many lost items on the beach.
Choosing the right time of the day is also important. Most people go in the early morning or evening when it’s quiet and they won’t get disturbed. Going during a hot day with lots of people on the beach is not good planning. Most of the area you want to search is covered with sunbathers and trying to work in between everyone is not considered very good manners. Notwithstanding the fact that beach inspectors will ask you to leave the beach.
Any valuable items like gold and diamond rings that are found should be handed in at a police station. If they are not claimed within three months, the articles become the property of the finder.
If you decide to open an account at the beach, remember to use the right combination – research, equipment perseverance and a respect for other people’s use of the beach and you will always find the bank open.
RELICS OF THE ANGLO BOER WAR 1899 – 1902
By Dr. O.E.B. Timmermans
The Anglo Boer War of 1899 to 1902 ranks among the so called forgotten of minor wars of the world history, but few incidents of this nature have had a more profound effect on the future cultures and fate of a nation than this troubled time.
Britain expected the war to be over within six months at the most! In actual fact it lasted another two years after the fall of Pretoria.
How did the Boers manage to continue the struggle against such a formidable enemy, being outnumbered 6:1?
They invented guerrilla warfare, they used what was cheap and at their disposal – rocks, koppies, ridges, mountains and above all plain common sense of which the Boers had plenty. The majestic Magaliesberg range became their greatest ally.
Those of us who make use of that magic wand – the electronic metal detector – will find trips to the Magaliesberg interesting and rewarding.
During a search which consisted of roughly 500 trips spread over a period of 32 months, the author discovered over 100 sites of battles, skirmishes, garrisons and camps. Many of these are found near passes affording to men easy passage across the mountain range, such as Hornsnek, Silkaatsnek, Commandonek, Breedtsnek and others. Extensive fighting took place in all these areas.
Towards the end of the war, blockhouses and sangars built by the British who controlled these necks, and treasure hunters climbing the range will easily find their ruins.
They can expect to find military buttons, large and small, Lee-Enfield cartridge casings, an occasional Lee-Enfield cartridge, donkey shoes, heel plates ex soldier’s boots, brass, and iron buckles and of course the famous or infamous food tins. These are identified by the large mass of solder used in their manufacture.
Another interesting relic is the forge steel ten peg, interesting because its excellent workmanship, date and name of manufacture punched into its surface.
A metal detector is quite essential because most relics are buried under one or two inches of soil. In the Damhoek area the author was lucky enough to find several Lee-Enfield cartridge casings where they had fallen during a skirmish over 80 years ago.
One treasure hunter, digging a hole next to the ruins of a blockhouse on top of the Magaliesberg near the Hartebeespoort dam discovered an ammunition box. It contained over 500 Lee-Enfield cartridges. The cordite when ignited with a match still burns, but the cartridges failed to fire when tried in a suitable rifle.
The Boers were equipped with an assortment of rifles such as the Mauser, Martini-Henry and the Austrian Guedes. It is not so easy to find casings of these rifles and very difficult to locate any unfired cartridges in the Magaliesberg area because the Boers were short of ammunition and took great care not to waste any.
Lee-Enfield casings show no date but can be identified by the CII stamped into the head. It denotes Cordite MKII throughout. Cordite was of course the new smokeless propellant of that time.
The headstamp also provides identifying marks of the manufacturers. The letter K stands for Kynoch, R & L for Royal Laboratories, Woolwich etc.
Mauser casings always give the date and many of the Martini-Henry and Guedes do so too.
It is very disappointing that after all these years, the author has found neither Victorian not Z.A.R coins on these war sites.
Perhaps this is not so strange in the case of the Boer Republic currency as the Boers were always on the move and carried little money, but the British had large garrisons and camps and after all the average trooper of which there were tens of thousands all earned one Royal shilling a day.