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Treasure hunters hope for luck with metal detectors

April 12, 2012153 view(s)
If you've got a metal detector, you can find the oddest - yet often valuable - items inadvertently left behind. The gold bug has bitten in Western Pennsylvania as gold and silver prices climb, according to a published report. Treasure hunters equipped with metal detectors are scouring parks and lawns and often coming up with some marked finds, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. The State Journal-Register reports a Central Illinois man recently found a relic from the Second World War. Additional drivers of the hobby's rapid growth include the hobbled economy that is working on a recovery and avoiding a double-dip recession and the popularity of a television show. From 2005 to 2010, a Florida-based seller of metal detectors saw a 63 percent climb in sales, totaling $24.8 million. The publication notes that was when metal prices really began taking off as the company noted sales of search equipment climbed from 30 orders in one month to 300 orders per week. Gold prices have climbed from $500 per troy ounce in 2005 and presently are approaching the milestone figure of $1,700 per troy ounce. Silver prices were $7 per troy ounce and now are more than $32 per troy ounce.
"No other hobby I can think of has a return like this," vice president Ed Burke with the Federation of Metal Detectors and Archaeology Clubs told the news source. "You can pay $800 for a metal detector and make up the return on it the first time, if you're lucky."
Though metal detector clubs in Western Pennsylvania are very rapidly growing, many treasure hunters are independent, he said. People are able to earn supplemental income by selling the wares they dig up, which include coins, jewelry and additional items that are easy to liquidate. The price of a metal detector greatly varies from as little as $50 to more than $40,000, and special versions of the machines can be used on beaches and in water while others can be used to scour grounds for nuggets of pure gold. Sixty-eight-year-old Jim St. Antoine of Irwin, a Pittsburgh suburb, finds solace in the hobby. After a 2001 stroke paralyzed the right side of his body, he found therapy with his metal detector. He resumed treasure hunting five months ago when diagnosed with prostate cancer.
"It's the thrill of never knowing what you're going to dig up next," St. Antoine told the news source. "I've never been anywhere where I didn't come home without anything."
Graham McCoy of Chatham, a suburb of Springfield, Illinois, returned a dog tag to the son of the man named on the identification tag earlier this month, The Standard Journal-Register reports. McCoy was using his metal detector years ago in a nearby field when he found the item belonging to Walter Alvin "Bud" Krell, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. He said he puts effort into returning items he finds with his metal detector that have identification on them.
"If there's something like a ring or an item with a name on it, I'll research that to find the owner," McCoy told the news source.
Two years ago, Mike Grueninger of Indianapolis returned to the Midwest from Florida, where he somehow left behind his wedding band, according to Naples News. He contracted with a man who searches for lost valuables and has a strong record of doing so. He has found the rings of six people since last year. Grueninger said he received a recent phone call that seemed too good to be true. "He says, 'Is your anniversary July 1, 2000? Is your wife's name Erika?'" Grueninger told the news source, noting he then received a photo of the ring with the words engraved inside. "Sure enough, it's my freaking ring."
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