Friday, February 25, 2011

Profile of a treasure hunter

Our buddy Homer sent me this link and I thought some of our readers would find this interesting.

Although I don't agree with a lot of what Mr. London says about the ever elusive treasures of the KGC (Knights of the Golden Circle), I do know that he has a lot of knowledge that can be put to good use. I will also say that Mr. London is one of the most knowledgeable people you will ever find when it comes to metal detectors.

I apologize for having the link instead of the imbedded video but my skills with a computer are just a little less than your average ten year old. This is a two part series so make sure you look for the second part once you get to the page.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hawaiian Treasures being searched for

I have to really thank Homer for this one. Lost treasure and Hawaii, it doesn't get much better than that!

This is a little different kind of treasure hunt but since it is about Hawaii it's near and dear to my heart.

From the web:

In This Hawaiian Scavenger Hunt, A Princess Seeks Palace Treasures

Lolani Palace


HONOLULU—Abigail Kawananakoa has been on a decades-long treasure hunt—a bid to recover silverware, lamps, rare furniture and other assorted objects from her family's former home.

Make that "palace."

This 84-year-old is a princess—a descendant of the royal family that ruled the former nation of Hawaii more than a century ago, presiding from graceful Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu.

But much of the 19th-century palace's custom-made furniture, oil paintings and other treasures disappeared after January 1893, when a small band of businessmen overthrew the monarchy.

"We'd love the king's bed back," says Princess Abigail, the great grand-niece of Queen Kapiolani, who was married to the last King of Hawaii, David Kalakaua. His gilt-and-ebonized bed, made by the Boston-based A.H. Davenport Co., is one major item still missing. "We've had so many leads, and they've all been dead ends," the princess says.

Built in 1882, Iolani Palace was richly furnished when it was the home of Hawaii's last two monarchs. But by 1969, the creaky, termite-infested Italianate palace stood vacant. The Junior League of Honolulu helped found a nonprofit group called The Friends of Iolani Palace, which ended up running the palace as a museum. They tapped Princess Abigail's mother, Liliuokalani Kawananakoa Morris, to be the Friends' first president.
The groups commenced their recovery mission in the late 1960s. Working from a desk in the state archives, they spent several years scouring 19th-century newspapers for clues as to where the stuff might have gone missing. To compile a list of items, they used old palace photographs, household ledgers, furniture purchase orders, details from the last king's probate and auction records.

Known as the "Register," the list includes everything from the wines in the king's cellar to sterling flatware. Pattie Black, the sole remaining acquisitions volunteer, continues to follow up tips of possible sightings on eBay.

The Palace also posts a "Most Wanted" list on its website.

"Occasionally, we spot something that did come from the palace," says Mrs. Black, 86. "That's a thrill." She's been following some missing items for decades.

Palace bounty has trickled in from some unlikely places. In 1987, a California couple bought a pretty porcelain plate for fifty cents at a community college swap meet in Huntington Beach, Calif. After seeing a television program about Iolani Palace, they realized the plate, with its royal insignia, had come from the palace's French Pillivuyt china service. They donated it in 2007.

One chair from the palace's Blue Room survived a tsunami in 1946, which swept it out of a Maui home and deposited it on a beach, where the owners recovered it and eventually donated it to the palace in 1976.

Another was more recently recovered through sheer social pressure. A group of Iowa eighth graders learned from their teacher that a small mahogany table in the palace actually belonged to the state of Iowa, which had received it as a gift from an Iowa resident and then lent it back to the Hawaiians. The kids, calling themselves the Give 'Em Back their Table Committee, began a campaign in 1999 to persuade the Iowa government to permanently give the table back to the palace.

Iowa transferred legal ownership in 2000, and the table is now a permanent addition to King David Kalakaua's library, according to the palace. The eighth graders created "a little bit of pressure through embarrassment," explains David Cordes, the retired Iowa official who handled the details of the table's transfer. "And they were absolutely right."

Despite these successes, about half of the palace's contents remain at large. It hopes to recover a white Venus di Milo plaster cast that once graced the king's office as well as the last queen's tiara, whose 150 diamonds were sold off and will probably never be recovered. The palace declines to estimate the value of the missing items.

Palace staffers and volunteers say that even today they know where a number of items are after spotting them in private homes. Some owners refuse to give stuff back, they say; others do so anonymously.

Then there's the clutter factor. Some families have simply run out of room to store their Hawaiian treasures. Descendants of Theo H. Davies, a 19th-century British sugar baron, returned four large ceremonial bowls, known as calabashes, he'd bought at auction. They'd been displayed both in the family's large home in Hampshire, England, and its home in Honolulu. Eventually, the family decided to donate them to the palace in 2006. "Nobody has a big enough house" to properly display them, says Joan Davies, the widow of Theo's grandson.

Alice Guild, one of the founders of the Friends of Iolani Palace, recalls opening the front door of her Honolulu home in the mid-1970s and finding an 18-inch package wrapped in butcher's paper and string on her doorstop. Inside was one of the long-missing wall escutcheons that someone had evidently pried off the palace. She thinks the donor left it anonymously because it was likely spoils from the overthrow.

"We never ask questions," says Princess Abigail. "Let's face it: [Donors'] relatives might have taken part in the looting."

Princess Abigail herself has bought back some treasures. At a Sotheby's auction in Switzerland in 1991, she placed the winning bid of 65,000 Swiss Francs (worth about $46,000 at the time) for a Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of Kamehameha I, which she then gave to the palace. The seller: a mysterious man known only as "Monsieur J.P.L."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Working with a contract

I just received this from Rob, a friend of mine and one of our readers. I thought everyone might like to read this and see how sometimes, no matter what you have in writing, it always comes down to the people.

From the web:


(Lyon County, KAN.) — You can tell it gets Jerry Weaver irritated just by talking about it. “I’ll be honest, it is all about the money,” said Weaver from his Lyon County home. “I’m not greedy, I just want what’s mine.”

In 2008, meteorite hunter Steve Arnold came to Lyon County to look for meteorites. Certain locations in Kansas contain meteorites that fell from the sky thousands of years ago. Many are found by farmers as they work the land. Arnold made deals with 19 landowners in the area for permission to look on their property for meteorites. The contract terms stated the landowners would get 25% and Arnold would get 75% of whatever was discovered.

“I was interested and happy to do it,” recalls Weaver. “He painted a pretty picture that they were valuable.”

Arnold found two meteorites on Weaver’s land. Weaver and his family helped Arnold dig them out of the ground. Weaver says Arnold was excited about the find and kept talking about the value.

“He said they're worth millions. He kept asking where I wanted to have a vacation house,” said Weaver.

In all, Arnold discovered meteorites on ten of the 19 properties. Total weight of the meteorites was close to 2500 lbs. Weaver waited for his cut.

“I never heard from him unless I contacted him,” said Weaver. He says at first, landowners were led to believe the money was coming.

“He kept saying we'll have some money and there will be some check writing going on and all that kind of talk,” said Weaver. “But I've heard that for three years and there hasn't been nothing wrote.”

“We haven’t received a nickel.”


You may be familiar with Steve Arnold and his meteorite hunting. Arnold co-stars in a TV show called “Meteorite Men” which will enter its third season on the Science Channel. Arnold sat down with Eyewitness News to answer questions about the land deals and why landowners have not been paid any money.

Arnold says about a year ago, he realized the traditional way of selling meteorites just wasn’t cutting it. So instead of selling the meteorite whole or slicing it into pieces for collectors, he decided to extract gemstones and sell them in the jewelry market. All landowners, including Weaver, agreed to this change. The problem? Arnold says the gems aren’t making much money.

“It’s not like wheat that you can just take down to the grain elevator and sell for cash,” said Arnold. “In our particular case, we're actually having to help create a market because most people don't even know the stones exist.”

Arnold says he’s sold a few but not enough to pay the landowners.

“The agreement was that their royalties would be based off of profit and we've sold some gemstones but our expenses have been more than what we've sold so there just hasn't been any profit to share yet.”

But are the gems really worth millions? Arnold believes so.

“The gemstones are worth anywhere from three to nine thousand dollars a carat,” said Arnold. “So if you just take 5000 dollars as an average, all it takes is 2000 carats for there to be a million dollars worth of gemstones in there.”

After we started asking questions, Arnold offered Weaver and the other landowners the option of getting a portion of a meteorite back. But Weaver says the new offer isn’t fair because it gives landowners less than 25 percent of a meteorite and also prohibits them from selling it on the gem market for five years. Arnold says none of the landowners took him up on the offer.

When does he expect landowners to see some money?

“I'm confident that it's going to happen,” said Arnold.


This isn’t the first time Arnold has made land deals in Kansas to look for meteorites. Years before signing the contract with Weaver, Arnold made a similar deal with Kiowa County farmer Bob Ahrens. Ahrens deal was a little different from Weavers. Instead of a 25-75 split, it was three-way deal between Ahrens, Arnold and an investor.

“I wasn't expecting anything until they started digging,” said Ahrens. “It was like a buried treasure.”

Arnold found five meteorites on his property. Ahrens didn’t expect to see much money right away. He tells Eyewitness News he did receive a cash payment and then chose to get part of his meteorite back. He keeps the 100 lb. rock on the floor board of his pickup truck so he can show it to people.

“If you got it you might as well do something with it. It's not doing any good sitting in the corner,” said Ahrens.

He says in the end he was satisfied with his deal.


The investor who was part of Ahrens’ deal is now suing Arnold. In a lawsuit filed in Bexar County, Texas, Phil Mani accuses Arnold of fraud. Mani claims he fronted Arnold thousands of dollars for his meteorite expeditions and Arnold lied to him. He claims Arnold told him a farmer’s field was empty then later returned with his TV crew once their partnership had ended to find meteorites. He says Arnold “promoted himself over the interests of the partnership.”

Arnold says he’s confident he’ll win the lawsuit and is fighting it to defend his name and his business. The case is scheduled for trial February 22nd.


Don Stimpson owns Kansas Meteorite Museum and Nature Center near Haviland. Stimpson’s museum houses the world’s largest collection of Brenham Meteorites. Stimpson also cuts meteorites and sells slices to collectors through his internet business. For him, it’s not about the money but the science.

“If you value nature and the universe and you're interested in understanding and learning, it's just another piece of the puzzle.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Imaginary Points

As kids growing up a lot of us had really great imaginations. As adults, some of us still have really good imaginations, especially those treasure hunters looking for the ever elusive Knights of the Golden Circle treasures. Their imaginations are off the charts!

Having an imagination and finding an imaginary point aren’t exactly the same thing but you do have to have some of one to find any of the other.

For the most part, I only hunt outlaw and Spanish treasures and as a general rule, the outlaws didn’t use imaginary points. The spots they took you to on a map were usually marked in some way either at the spot or on the map so that you know exactly where you are on the trail.

The Spanish on the other hand had several ways of doing things and one of those involved what I call “imaginary points”. These points are places you have to find that aren’t marked, at least not in the normal fashion and they usually involve measuring. I hate measuring, it’s always such a pain in the butt and you usually have to do it in terrain that doesn’t lend itself to being measured easily.

The simplest way to use an imaginary point is with a triangle. The Spanish loved triangles and used them often however, you can have a forth point tied to a triangle that gives you a spot to look for the treasure or even a buried clue or hidden map. The Spanish were known to “flip” a triangle. This is done by using three marked spots in the field that form your triangle and then flipping the triangle over along one side to give you a forth and unmarked, imaginary point. This requires you to measure the sides and angles of the original marked triangle so that you can get to an exact spot on the other side.

The good news is that the math and measuring for this imaginary forth point is fairly simple. The bad news is, I have never found anything at a site that definitively tells you that you need to flip a triangle or which way you should flip it. This means, like most treasure hunting, you are having to work every possible solution to see if this is the actual solution. It’s about trying every possible combination until you hit on the right one or decide there isn’t anything there.

Keep in mind imaginary points don’t happen with every triangle but they do happen and should be considered when you find a triangle laid out by the Spanish.

Something new to me that took a couple of months to figure out is an actual corner of a triangle being an imaginary point.

We recently worked a Spanish site that had three triangles, the most important triangle had one corner that told us there was another triangle and in what direction to look for the other corners. The third corner of the triangle was unmarked except for a flat spot to stand on a ledge. To find this flat spot and third point of the third triangle we had to use a measurement and direction they had given us with the first triangle.

You’re probably thinking this sounds very complicated and to a point it was but on the other hand it wasn’t. The distance and direction to go to the imaginary third point was very obvious but at the time we didn’t know it took us to the third point. There wasn’t anything there except solid rock. We didn’t even know we had a third triangle when we found the distance and direction.

We knew this information was going to be extremely important but we just didn’t know how to use it at the time. Thanks to a good mapping program, some laser range finders, a compass and a couple of months working the site we finally discovered the third, final and most important triangle.

I still consider this third point as an imaginary one because it was not marked like the rest of the points of the three triangles. Those points all had rock piles giving specific information on where to look for the other corners of their respective triangles. The “imaginary point” could only be found by using the distance and direction given. I will also say that the imaginary point turned out to be the dead center of the first triangle. The spot that was the imaginary point was on a ledge about ten feet high and the flat spot of the ledge was about one and a half feet wide and just a couple of feet long. Just enough for a person to stand on and take a compass heading.

These are by no means the only ways to use an imaginary point and I don’t want you going out in the field and just imagining anything. Use some common sense and keep in mind that if you have an imaginary point there has to be a very specific and exact way to get to that point. It will require the dreaded measuring technique to find these points and you will have definite markers to measure from.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Treasure found

Every once in a while a story pops up on the internet about someone somewhere finding a treasure. I can always count on Homer catching the ones that I miss and this is one of the ones I missed. Thanks Homer!

From the web:

Honest Estonian cashes in on treasure find

TALLINN — An honest Estonian who turned in a treasure of more than a thousand ancient silver coins he dug up in a field got his just reward Thursday, when the government decided to give him nearly 100,000 euros.

"Under Estonian law, a person who finds and turns over ancient treasure to the authorities is entitled to the half of its value," the Estonian government said on its website.

"An expert study by Estonian heritage authorities found the treasure is worth 198,126 euros ($273,000)," it said.

The identity of the lucky treasure hunter was not made public.

"Most of the nearly thousand-year-old coins -- 80 percent of them -- are from Germany and the rest from England, Sweden, Denmark and Hungary. One silver coin seems to be from Italy," Mauri Kiudsoo, a Tallinn University expert, told reporters in the Estonian capital Thursday.

The man made the rare discovery on August 16 last year while digging in a farmer's field near Tallinn.

The treasure, contained in a broken clay pot, comprised 1,329 silver coins and nine other silver items.

The find came three years to the day after the previous such discovery in Estonia, when five treasure hunters discovered a trove of almost 1,000 coins, mostly from the 17th century, on Saaremaa Island off the west coast.

They were rewarded with 32,650 euros for handing in the money from Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

The average monthly salary in Estonia is 759 euros according to latest figures.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Technology and Treasure Hunting

In today’s world we have all come to rely on and enjoy the technology that surrounds us. In most cases, it makes our lives easier. Even though the people who hid the treasures we are now looking for didn’t have this kind of technology, we use it constantly to try to find those treasures. We routinely rely on our computers for using mapping programs, finding information from of the internet and contacting other treasure hunters. Add to that the digital cameras, GPS units, photo programs, etc. that we use and our lives as treasure hunters, even normal human beings are stored in a little box of wires and diodes and other stuff most of us don’t understand.

That brings us to the reason for this article. Rob, one of our readers, recently sent me an e-mail about backing up my computer before a catastrophic loss. This wasn’t news to me and unfortunately I had to learn the hard way, but just in case we have some newbies out there or people who have been lucky enough not to loose any electronic data, this is your warning.

It’s not about IF it will happen, it’s about WHEN it will happen. Because it will and always when you least expect it.

I urge all of our readers to constantly back up their files and on a regular basis. Depending on how much you use your computer and what you use it for, you may need to back up once a day or once a week or once a month. I would not recommend going longer than a month between each back up. That’s just asking for trouble.

There are several ways to back up your computer, you can use an external hard drive, something I’m very fond of, or you can use disks such as dvd or cd’s or you can even pay a small price and use an offsite storage company for your information. Maybe it’s just the paranoid lunatic in me but I don’t like the idea of my information being stored on somebody else’s equipment where anybody can get to it. Not that I have any big life altering secrets on my computer, I’m just naturally suspicious of people I don’t know and have a hard time trusting that my information will be safe. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t trying to get you!

I will leave it to you, the readers to decide what is the best option for you personally. I just want to make sure you think about, and at least occasionally back up your files so the information you have is not lost to the world like some of the treasures we hunt for.

Remember the Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Metal Detecting law

Our good buddy Homer e-mailed me this and I thought I would post it for our readers. If you live in Washington or hunt in Washington you might want to give your two cents worth.

Everyone interested in metal detecting,

We have a bill in the senate that is intended to open all developed areas in Washington State Parks, excluding those that are designated archaeological sites.

What we need to do is write the senators on the committee and ask for their support of the bill, the more letters of support that we get the better our chances for the bill to get out of committee.

All I wrote is . Short and to the point..................................

Senator ---------,
Please support SB 5506, the bill to keep state park lands open to metal detecting.

Thank you,

Your Name

encourage others to write also, it only takes a few minutes.

The Natural Resources, Ocean and Recreation Committee consist of the following.
Senator Kevin Ranker , Chairman, most important!

Senator Debbie Regala , vice Chair,

Senator Bob Morton, has supported us in the past

Senator Karen Fraser has stalled previous bills in committee, and they died

Senator Dan Swecker

Senator James Hargrove has supported us in the past

Senator Val Stevens
Write to one or all, but please write.
Thank you

Ron Sharer, pres,

Metal Detecting Association of Washington