Treasure Hunting on the Beach

My friend Toby is from the Jersey Shore and now lives in Florida near the beach. The ocean is in his blood, you could say!! Toby has discovered that there are also treasures in his blood and in that ocean!

image credit: Steven Notaras, photograph, 2012. News-Journal

Toby likes finding treasures along the Florida shore. Many of those treasures have nothing to do with shells or sea glass! Toby likes finding treasures that are made from some variety of metal!  As a kid, he walked the shoreline and looked for special shells -- and then shells made from metal!! He would watch the old guys with their odd gadgets surveying the surface of the beach, bending over and examining their finds, which were usually bottle caps and pennies. But each piece, from soda cap to necklace to strange pieces, would have a story to tell, a journey to explain and a luster to its being, and Toby was ready to be a part of that adventure!

metal detector and finds

As an adult, Toby decided to take his fascination of these washed up trinkets to the next level and finally bought a metal detector of his own. He started walking the beach in his new Florida hometown swinging the detector wand back and forth in the early morning mist. Allowing for the tide tables and studying from what distances and directions currents moved, Toby found the best times and places for successful hunts! There is a science to understanding tide tables and current paths. He realized very quickly that he secretly hoped to find the “big one” -- the long missing doubloon. In reality, he, on average, finds 100 bottle caps and flip tops to every one piece of gold. Patience is a virtue and Toby has a ton of that.

Treasure hunting is big in the state of Florida. With a history dating back 500 years and tales of conquerors and conquests, there are shipwrecks all along the coast in which to dive. Many forts still exist and so does the original Minorca society.  It is not unusual to have the unique and rare piece wash up on shore!

Picture of 18th century brass/copper nail

A special find for Toby was a button from a 60th Royal American Regiment army jacket.

button found on beach


Another is a 1939 Silver Walking Liberty half-dollar.

coins found on beach

But Toby especially likes to tell of his fabulous finds from lost and found ads. Combing the ads for people desperately seeking lost rings or precious jewelry, he’ll call the seekers and ask for vital information on the possible whereabouts. Then, with his magic wand, Toby heads out to be a super sleuth and attempt to find the missing item. Once he found a missing engagement ring valued at $10,000!!! The husband was elated and the wife kept screaming, “I love you!!” to a blushing Toby.

ring found on beach

Another time, he saw an ad for a missing wedding band. It had been missing for 38 years!  Because of a drought, the inland lake that the ring had been lost was extremely low. Toby found the ring!!  Needless to say, when Toby returned it to the couple, there were tears of pure joy!!!

tobys class ring

Now, a few years later, the discovery mission has become a habit and an occupation. (  Toby takes his jewelry discoveries and after searching the ads to see if they are something that someone is looking for, he will clean up the piece, give it a high gloss, secure the stone or stones, and then advertise it for sale. Toby has lots of heartwarming stories about people who have purchased his treasures and likes the idea of being a part of the history of the hand made item!

ornate ring toby

Now, a couple times a week, Toby heads to the beach very early in the morning before the tourists and the sun worshippers arrive. He has his electronic wand balanced and ready as he makes his way along the lapping waves and the moving sands. When the detector indicates a possible find, Toby bends into the froth to discover a treasure. Soda pop cap or long lost class ring, Toby tries to see the story, the people the journey of this piece of on going history.

metal detector findings

Until next time!!

Happy Junkin’


Amy's Heart

-Credit for picture of Toby on beach: Steven Notaras, photograph, 2012. News-Journal

-All other pictures are Toby's

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