Sunday, February 28, 2010

Melting Snow Gives Up Treasure!

Well, one of the silver linings of the snowy Winter of 2009-2010 is that the ice and snow has been piled around vending machines and parking meters for several weeks.  I've heard conjecture in the past that piles of snow would reveal coins when they melt, but I hadn't had the opportunity to test that theory until now.  The big thaw isn't here yet, but the snow has been receding enough that I was able to start checking.  I'm happy to say that it's true!  There were coins everywhere as the snow melted.  It was a lot of fun to walk down a row of parking meters and find a coin or two under every other one. I didn't realize people drop so many coins at them, but on the other hand, their fingers are cold or they may be wearing gloves.  Once the coin goes into a snowbank, it's pretty much gone. 

After being surprised to find 69 coins during my walks in January, I was amazed to come up with 90 in February, including the 20 I found in airports, which I talked about in an earlier post.  That's the equivalent of a couple of times out with the metal detector.  Since it's been so snowy and frozen, I wasn't able to get out with the detector at all in February, so I'm happy that moneywalking finds have picked up.  I got a big surprise in a vending machine when I pushed the return button and a silver 1964

quarter fell out.  I knew the sound said silver but didn't believe it even after I had the quarter in my hand.  You just never know what's going to appear while treasure hunting. As Mel Fisher used to say, "Today's the Day!"

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Indian Head Coins

I used to collect coins when I was younger.  It's still fun to go to a coin show now and then to see some coins you never get to see.  I was looking at a $10 gold coin a while ago and got to wondering how many Native American US coins there are.  It turns out there are quite a few. I think they are some of the most attractive designs on any US coins.  It's not a coincidence that they were designed in the early part of the 20th century during the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods, when a lot of utilitarian items were designed more attractively. 

I collected up pictures of all the Indian coins and posted them in an article Native American Coins of the US.  The stories behind some of these coins are pretty interesting.  The Buffalo nickel came through the efforts of President Teddy Roosevelt, who was an outdoorsman and had traveled in the west.  He thought the previous nickels were too plain, and had an engraver study portraits of Indian chiefs to come up with a realistic face on the obverse side.  Other coins like the Indian head penny and the $10 gold Eagle pictured here actually portray Lady Liberty wearing an Indian headdress.

 Anyway, take a look, there are some pretty neat-looking coins in the collection.  Also, I looked up Canadian coins online and I didn't see one that had an Indian design. I think one had a Haida totem pole, but thats it. I wonder why that is.  Tied closer to the crown until just a few decades ago I think. Interesting. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Airport Money

One of my favorite moneywalking places is in an airport.  I don't go out of my way to go moneywalking there, but if I am there, I do go out of my way to hunt for stray coins, because I know they are there. Airports have several things going for them, they are noisy, many surfaces are carpeted, people are spending money there in food courts, people are in a hurry and carrying bags, and people are lounging around for extended periods. That all adds up to lost coins.

Here is a handful of coins I found last week on a trip.  All except one were found in airports. 19 coins plus a Philadelphia transit token that has a copper strip through the middle.  If you are interested in foreign coins, airports are also a good place to do some coin hunting if the opportunity presents itself. Back home now, waiting for these piles of snow to melt and see whats been dropped in them.  Looks like that might take a month or so, though.  Oy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Visiting the Mel Fisher Treasure Museum

Well, since the snows continue to pile up in my prime treasure-hunting grounds, I needed a way to stay motivated. What better place to keep my treasure fire stoked than at Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum in Sebastian, Florida?  Mel Fisher made some amazing discoveries right off the beach not far from here, where the 1715 Plate Fleet went down in a storm.  The 1715 Plate Fleet wrecks continue to produce treasure since being discovered over 40 years ago.

Mel Fisher, as you know, is most famous for recovering the treasure of the Atocha near the Marquesas Islands off the Florida Keys. The Atocha and it's sister ship, the Santa Margarita, also continue to give up their treasures to Mel Fisher's treasure hunters.

The Treasure Museum in Sebastian gives a great history of Mel's treasure hunting exploits in Florida. He sold his dive shop in California to spend a year salvaging the 1715 Plate Fleet without promise of pay. His year paid off handsomely as he at one point found "a carpet of gold coins" in a small ravine on the ocean floor. He moved on to hunting for the 1622 fleet which included the Atocha.

The museum has a short film, then you can tour the fantastic finds that Fisher and his treasure hunting team have found from both fleets, which are pictured here.  There is a gift shop with authentic gold and silver treasure items for sale.  You can also get replica coins and jewelry molded from the originals. 

The Mel Fisher Treasure Museum is a great stop if you are in the Sebastian area.  You can see some of the most amazing treasure ever found, and just drool at divers on the film bringing up fistfuls of gold escudos and buckets of Spanish silver coins. 

Mel Fisher also has a treasure musem in Key West, Florida where you can see similar Spanish treasure. Also check for further info.  Oh, I don't have the detector with me on this trip but I did find a penny washed up in the wet sands while walking on a beach just up the road. The treasure beaches continue to produce.