Sunday, 1 February 2015

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Field

It's de rigueur in metal detecting circles that many (if not all) of the best finds turn up at the least expected moment. Turn to The Searcher or Treasure Hunting magazine or log onto any of the scores of Metal Detecting forums and you will read tales of how Johnny Diggit was off to relieve himself behind a tree when his detector gave the sweetest of signals and a magnificent gold coin surfaced (perhaps dropped by a Roman taken short two thousand years ago in exactly the same spot). More often than not, Billy Nofinds was rueing a completely unproductive day when he reluctantly headed back to the car weighed down with a collection of shotgun cartridges, tin cans and ring pulls still swinging his C-Scope when, lo and behold, up popped a find to rival the Staffordshire Hoard. 

It doesn't usually happen to me ( okay, I once found a buckle on the way to pick up my cheese butties), but it did on Friday. My local landowner had suggested I might like to try my luck on some local pastureland before the grass grew too high. I'm going through a post Christmas weight loss regime so decided to walk the kilometre or so to the field rather than drive there. I thought that, instead of sticking to the dangerous main road, I would get there via several of the many footpaths that criss cross our locality. To save time when I reached the pasture, I started to set up the detector whilst walking along the first path. I have permission to search all of the local fields and, although they are planted with crops at the moment and consequently out of bounds, searching the paths is not a problem. Before long I was digging up various scraps of metal and the odd button when, suddenly, the detector gave the sharpest of signals just beneath a tree.

And up popped this pretty little rose gold Victorian wedding band. It was hallmarked in Birmingham in1903 and is nicely engraved with flowers. It's only 9 carat gold and not a particularly valuable item but it's the first gold ring I've found in all the years I have been detecting (other than one I found whilst looking specifically for it on behalf of its loser). Sadly, entangled deep down among the tree's roots, it was lost many, many years ago and a card in the Framlingham Co-op won't find its loser. I carried on along the path. It was much further than I had anticipated and by the time I reached the field that I had planned to detect on, it was almost time to head back. I swung the detector there for ten minutes with no luck before, not wanting to be late, I took the path home.

So next time I read about finds being made on the way back to the car, perhaps I won't dismiss them as mere detectorist's license. After all, I've now found gold before even getting to the field.

Whilst on the subject of finds, I've been having another try at trawling eBay for unusual or interesting bits and pieces. Last week I found this fabulous 19th century Bohemian tobacco box made by Brothers Urbach of Turn Teplitz. It's not in perfect condition as the gnome has lost his pipe stem but he's a very rare, if not unique, humidor and I suspect that a collector will pay a lot more than the £25 he cost.

I was quite excited when I found this item listed on eBay as a "Stoneware carafe/vase" and a price of £5. I knew that it was a spirit flask moulded with King George III and Queen Charlotte. 

This was the last example to hit the market and it sold in Mar 2005 for £1,050. As the bidding deadline approached, the price on eBay was just £15. With seconds to go I put in a bid of £315 and eBay showed me as high bidder for £17. I thought my luck was in when suddenly, with one second to go, the price jumped to £325. Just one other bidder had recognised the piece. There were no other bids. I'm sure that he or she was delighted to win it for £325 and I imagine that the seller who listed it for a fiver was thinking "WTF"!

Treasure apart, we've continued our busy cinema schedule and yesterday headed to the excellent Aldeburgh cinema and joined a packed matinee audience for Testament Of Youth. What a wonderful film! It is such a moving tribute to the youth of 1914-1918 who gave their lives without questioning the futility of what they were involved in. It's beautifully acted, beautifully filmed and tremendously moving. I'm not hugely emotional but I challenge anybody to see this and leave the cinema dry-eyed. Having seen Taron Egerton for the first time on Thursday as East End wide boy Eggsy in Kingsman, it was quite a surprise to see him here again in a completely different role as Vera Brittain's sensitive and upper class brother. Look out for him in future. I see him becoming a major star.