Tag Archives: jetton

Toy Cannon

17 Mar


Thought I’d undertake a short hunt today on Peter Quince; swing until I found the first museum-worthy artefact. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. I ended up spending four hours, and although I made several interesting finds, none was of the drop-dead variety. The most unusual was this toy cannon with the burst barrel. At first I thought it had been plough nicked, but once I got it home and cleaned it, it became obvious that this had once been a working toy (health and safety regulations were different back then)! There was a functional bore and vent, and swabbing with a Q-tip revealed black powder residue in the bottom of the bore. Some long-ago kid must have overcharged the thing, or it had its barrel partially obstructed and burst — hopefully the onlookers stood well back! Other interesting finds included part of what might be a simple fibula brooch:IMG_0872

a beech leaf worked in copper:


what seems to be a pot handle; various buttons, including a possible medieval one; a knackered Vickie penny (1863) and a Georgian ha’penny (unclear which George). Finally, as I was leaving the field at midday I found a jeton, probably Nuremberger as it appears to have the imperial orb within a tressure of three arches and three angles on the reverse:



The tally, buttons to the R

Somerton, OXON (Weekend Wanderers Dig)

28 Apr

I opted out of the Weekend Wanderers dig last weekend in favour of joining an Oxford Blues dig closer to home. This may have been a mistake, as some remarkable finds were unearthed in Somerton by the Wanderers, including this Saxon gold coin:


As a result, I was keen to join when I heard that the Wanderers would be returning to the same fields, plus an additional, previously undetected field owned by the same farmer.

Straight out of the gate, still among the cars, I made a heart-stopping find. I was certain it was a coin, and even Peter, the club director, who rushed over, initially thought it might be a medieval badge. However, a bit of cleaning and further inspection revealed that it was quite modern. By the time I got it home and reasonably clean, my medieval coin had become a children’s club badge, decorated with a couple of racist cartoons. The legend read ‘Cheery Coons Club’, and a little internet research indicated that the badge depicted Eb and Flow, cartoon characters created by Wilfred Haughton, whose strips ran in The People magazine in the 1920s and ’30s (see http://www.flickr.com/photos/23885771@N03/4429339906/).


At 11.00 am, the club allowed us onto the undetected field. I was punctilious about the time, so I was rather dismayed to find about thirty club members already on the field when I arrived at 11.01. This is why I was feeling rather virtuous when I unearthed a jetton after only a couple of steps on the field:

ImageWhen so many people are working a relatively small area there is a temptation simply to wander over the field. Bolstered by the jetton find, however, I worked a disciplined swath of the field near its eastern border with a small stream. After half an hour, a mid-range signal turned up the find of the day (and my treasure hunting career to this point), a king’s head buckle:

ImageI had the feeling that this was a special find, so I took off one of my gloves and slipped the buckle inside a glove finger to protect it. When I returned to the staging area, Peter and a few of the club oldtimers confirmed that it was a rare find; one fellow suggested that it reflected a decorative trope of the 14th century. Soon a small crowd had gathered, enthusiastically passing the buckle from hand to hand (the first time this has happened for anything I have found)!

I also found a mini flat button and an iron buckle of indeterminate age. Junk finds included two modern bullets, half of a badge reading ‘BABY’, and a sort of modern rivet/ring (top ring?). Kurt and Kathleen arrived rather late, but they managed to turn up a musket ball.

I am eager to turn the king’s head buckle over to the PAS for evaluation and recording. Altogether it was a thrilling day!


(3.5 hrs)


First Dig with Oxford Blues MDC

7 Apr

I had hoped to post this before midnight but didn’t quite make it, so when I write ‘today’, I am actually referring to yesterday, the 7th of April. It was the day of my first dig with the Oxford Blues Metal Detecting Club, on two fields in stubble at a place called Radley, about two miles southwest of Oxford.

My dad came with me as a guest to experience his first metal detecting trip. We only had about two and a half hours, as we had planned a trip to Bath later in the day, but we made the most of the restricted schedule. We took turns detecting and digging, and once the detectorist called out a target, we switched roles, whether the find was rubbish or not.

Within about a half hour, I found my first coin ever. I was sure it was a ‘hammy’, a hammered coin, but one of the old timers said that due to its thickness, it was probably a jetton — a token circulated as money in times of currency shortage. The coin/jetton is so corroded that no image or legend is visible on either side, so I’m not sure that I’ll be able to identify it. Still, a thrilling find.

Soon thereafter, my dad turned up a small-bore lead musket ball. If he hadn’t been hooked on the hobby before then, I’m quite certain that did it. In fact, we were so excited about our finds that we brought Kurt back with us for an additional hour (like children begging for a final two minutes of playtime). We only found aluminium in the last phase, but we did get to see a beautifully preserved Saxon silver penny that another detectorist turned up in the field.

It is remarkable to encounter history in this way — to think, for example, of the fellow who must have dropped the jetton from a pocket several hundred years ago, or the farmer (or soldier!) who fired the ball. Our experiences definitely inflected the trip to Bath, where several hundred Roman coins are on display in the Roman baths museum. During the museum visit, I tended to think more about the metalsmiths, the merchants, the buyers behind the coins than about the objects themselves (though to be honest, some of them were of silver or gold, and dead pretty)…

(hours detecting: 3)