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Friday, March 3, 2017

Iron clues

If you are a beach hunter searching for old shipwreck coins or artifacts iron is always a welcome sight, especially iron nails.
It helps if you know how to identify and date iron nails found at the beach, as that information can be useful in identifying the type of other materials you could possibly recover in the area.
These wrought handmade iron ship nails (Spikes) are from a early 1600s Spanish shipwreck, wrought means they were beaten into shape by a hammer.

They were recovered a couple of years ago on a Florida east coast beach at low tide using my Minelab CTX 3030.
The first machine made iron nails in the US were produced in the late 1700s to early 1800s and are known as "Cut" nails.
Cut nails were produced in large quantities to closely mimic the design of handmade nails, only they had two tapered sides down the shank.
I have found many of these type of nails at early 1830s Seminole indian war camps / forts along the east coast of Florida.
Perhaps readers of the blog have seen the late 1500s iron ship spike I recovered in the swamp on Oak Island Nova Scotia in 2016.
It made me chuckle seeing people on detecting forums and other bloggers saying it was a railroad spike, after watching a recent episode of "The Curse of Oak Island" 
I knew what it was as soon as I held it in my hand and it was nice to see it authenticated by an expert antiquities and antiques appraiser on the History Channel. 
There is the point of todays blog, old iron is often a sign of good things to come for a beach hunter.
It is also a good reason to take everything you find at the beach home with you, if you are not familiar with old iron nails.
I actually go out of my way to try detect iron at beaches known for old shipwrecks, find the iron and silver or gold is often not far away. 
Iron like the ship spikes in the photo, can mask smaller valuable targets like treasure coins or jewelry.
The afternoon I recovered the iron ship spikes, I found a very old copper ring and a Spanish silver one reale treasure coin.
The following low tide I recovered more iron ship spikes, a buckle and a second silver treasure coin.
Now imagine if I used discrimination or iron mask at this beach, I would have left the iron ship spikes in the sand, along with the other cool finds the iron spikes were helping to mask.
Although I often talk about the advantages of using discrimination at tourist beaches, the opposite is my preferred method when searching for older finds.
I hunt in all metal with target depth in mind, with just a subtle lowering or raising of the threshold or even a crab fart being all the justification I need to stop and start digging.
Iron is always a happy sight in my scoop or the bottom of the hole I just dug, its more than a ship spike to me its a trail in the sand to follow. 

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