Archive | February, 2013

OED usage notes for the term ‘mudlark’:

26 Feb
1796   P. Colquhoun Police of Metropolis iii. 60   Men and boys, known by the name of Mud-larks, who prowl about, and watch under the ships when the tide will permit.
1796   P. Colquhoun Police of Metropolis iii. 61   Gentlemen plunderers..are far more pernicious than the lumpers or mud-larks.
1801   Monthly Rev. 35 243   Miserable beings..accustomed to grub in the river at low water for old ropes..known by the appellation of Mud-larks.
1804   M. Edgeworth Lame Jervas xi, in Pop. Tales I. 77   He..became what is called a mud-lark; that is a plunderer of the ships cargoes that unload in the Thames.
1845   Chambers’s Edinb. Jrnl. 3 105/1   These ‘mud-larks’..bear generally a bad character… Their functions do not end with the shore, but in the sewer.
1851   H. Mayhew London Labour II. 155/2   The mud-larks collect whatever they happen to find, such as coals, bits of old-iron, [etc.].
1859   C. Hotten Dict. Mod. Slang 65   Mud-larks,..occasionally those men who cleanse the sewers, with great boots and sou’wester hats.
1892   A. Dobson 18th Cent. Vignettes 233   The same crowd of mud-larks and loafers would come rushing into the water to offer..their services.
1959   Times 16 Mar. (Port of London Suppl.) p. xvi/1   ‘Long apron men’ and mudlarks who..waited to pick up goods thrown to them by accomplices on board merchantmen.
1985   Antiquaries Jrnl. June 450   It was found by an experienced mudlark, licensed by the Port of London Authority to dig and search the foreshore at that point.
1994   T. Clark Junkets on Sad Planet viii. 137   Coal-heavers, or even those Mudlarks who comb the City sewers for any scrap of stuff they can find to sell.
1995   Independent on Sunday 19 Feb. (Review Suppl.) 71/3   The public is allowed to beachcomb on the shores, but serious mudlarks..must obtain a license (£9 per annum) from the PLA and abide by its rules.

Just a (mud)lark.

26 Feb

Just as a (mud)lark.

These are the passport-style photos I took for my Permit to Search the Thames Foreshore. The foreshore is the expanse of riverbed or beach that is exposed by the fluctuation of the tides. In the UK, most tracts of foreshore (and beaches and estuaries and so on) are owned by the Crown Estate (more or less by the Queen).

People known as mudlarks — historically often children, the infirm, or criminals — have been scavenging bits of treasure or usable stuffs from the river for hundreds of years. In theory, anyone can walk down the foreshore during low tide, but you need a permit to detect or dig.

Here’s a short vid of an American Garrett representative (I think it’s Garrett’s son, actually) detecting on the Thames foreshore:

If you were the Queen, would you give a permit to someone looking as scruffy as I do in the photos? True mudlarking style!


Unpacking the Garrett AT Pro International

26 Feb

Unpacking a pile of treasure and detecting items…

Putting the cart before the horse…

26 Feb

Well, I’ll never be accused of approaching this half-heartedly. I’m supposed to be finishing a chapter of my thesis (on witchcraft in Renaissance drama) for submission as part of my transfer of status — a hurdle that allows one to shift from a provisional researcher to a fully fledged DPhil candidate here at Oxford.

Instead, over the last two weeks I have ordered a pile of books on detecting here in the UK (and prospecting in the States). I have sent to my parents’ place a drywasher, highbanker, panning kit, six classifiers, a blue bowl concentrator, blue bowl leg levellers, a Fossicker’s Maverick pan, two jewellers’ loupes, tweezers, a tool roll (for the tweezers, etc.), coin probe, and a Whites GMT detector with SunRay Gold headphones and a Garrett detector bag.

To my place in Oxford I have ordered two secondhand detectors, a C-Scope CS3MX and a Garrett AT Pro International, waterproof headphones for the AT Pro and Garrett Master Sound phones for the CScope, a console cover for the CScope, two spades, a sand scoop, spade carrier, collapsible shovel, Lesche Digging Tool, Garrett Retriever pick, Mechanix gloves, Hunter Wellies, a Wellie Carrier (!), three sets of Wellington socks, a generic tool pouch, two detector bags, a harness for the AT Pro, A Garrett ProPointer handheld detector for isolating small finds in the hole, waterproof notebook with three permanent pens, membership in the British Goldpanning Association, the Weekend Wanderers Detecting Club, the National Council of Metal Detectorists, a Port of London Authority Mudlarking permit, and other things I no doubt will have forgotten.

Even to me this seems a tad obsessive.

Treasure in Words

26 Feb

I know it well, sir; you have an exchequer of words, 
and, I think, no other treasure to give your 
followers, for it appears by their bare liveries, 
that they live by your bare words (Two Gentlemen of Verona II. 4. 692-5).