Photographing metal detecting finds with a cheap digital microscope

I’ve been messing around with a cheap digital microscope to see how useful it would be for photographing metal detecting finds:

PLON - London mint of ConstantineCoin of Crispus minted in London, pretty blurry.
Flavius Magnus Magnentius coin with very early roman christian iconographyCoin of Magnentius with very early roman christian iconography.

The picture of the coin of Magnentius isn’t too bad, I think I need to work on my focusing. One of the problems with the digital microscope I am using is that it is very difficult to focus the thing without moving it, which means you have to focus it again. Maybe practise makes perfect?

Although I made sure that the microscope would work with Windows 7 when I bought it, the microscope software is clearly not fully compatible with Microsoft’s latest operating system as the software window does not display properly, rendering some of the microscopes functions unusable.

Even with my poor job of focusing, it is clear that the image quality will never match that of a half decent digital camera. Maybe the more expensive digital microscopes can produce better quality images, I’ll have to see if I can borrow one from somewhere and find out.

Although I am going to continue messing around with this digital microscope, it doesn’t seem that it will be all that good for finds, it is a lot of fun to play with though!

Maybe I can get better images out of it once I am more familiar with it, or can find a software upgrade that will make the microscope fully compatible with windows 7!

More pictures tomorrow if I get time!

And all this messing around with digital microscopes reminds me that I need to get the guide to photographing coins and artifacts pages done for the main web site!

Viking silver ingot found on Isle of Man declared as treasure

A viking silver ingot weighing 20 grams has been declared treasure on the Isle of Man. The silver ingot was found by John Crowe in October 2009, in a field in Andreas.

(With thanks to  TheSearcherMag, who posted this story on twitter)

How to donate to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal

I just received a reply from the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery about how to donate to the Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal:

“People can phone and pledge their donation on 01228 618743 or they can fill the attached donation form and send it back with their preferred method of payment.”

Download the donation form here: Donation form – gift aid (word document) right click and save. You can donate by credit and debit card using this form. No mention of Paypal or any online payment methods though.

Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet Appeal

Tullie House launches urgent appeal to keep Crosby Garrett Roman Helmet in Cumbria

From: [Link now dead]

“Please help us to keep this signifcant find in Cumbria. See the images below.

Pledge your support by phoning Tullie House on 01228 618743 or join our Tullie House facebook group

Tullie House launches urgent appeal to keep rare Roman Helmet in Cumbria

A Roman helmet of national significance, found locally in Crosby Garrett, North Cumbria, will be auctioned on 7th October. Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery is launching an urgent public and corporate appeal to help to secure this exceptionally rare Roman Cavalry Parade Helmet, dating from the end of the 1st to mid 3rd century AD, as a centrepiece for its new £1.5m Roman Frontier: stories beyond Hadrian’s Wall gallery, due to open summer 2011.

There are only two other comparable helmets known in the UK and neither of these is as complete or elaborate as the Cumbrian example that is a Roman copper-alloy two-piece face mask visor helmet. This type of mask is characterised by idealised (Greek) youthful male faces, mostly clean-shaven, with luxuriant curly and wavy hair.

According to an extract in the diary of Flavius Arranius, 136AD, ‘those of high rank or superior horsemanship wear gilded helmets to draw attention of the spectators. Unlike helmets made for active service, they are made to fit all round the faces of the riders with apertures for the eyes.’

Tullie House’s archaeology collections are extensive with a particularly important collection of Roman Cumbria material, especially from Carlisle and the Hadrian’s Wall area. In the development of its collections Tullie House prioritises artefacts that are judged to be of high importance to the local heritage and to ensure that items remain or are returned to Cumbria.

Tullie House needs to raise between £300-400,000to secure this major Roman artefact and is launching an urgent public and corporate appeal to encourage individuals and businesses to pledge their support now to keep the Cumbrian Roman Helmet in Cumbria.”

Please support this effort if you are able!

Metal Detecting Accessory Bargain of the Year – Mini Spade for Under £4

Metal Detecting Accessory Bargain of the Year – Mini Spade for Under £4

Silverline Mini Round Nose Shovel - mini spade
Silverline Mini Round Nose Shovel – mini spade

Take a look at this: Silverline Mini Round Nose Shovel. That has to be the metal detecting accessory bargain of the year, a mini spade delivered from for under £4!

I can’t comment on the quality because I haven’t got mine yet, but for £3.17 you probably can’t go wrong.

The “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section on the product page suggests that a lot of detectorists have been buying this digger. Anybody received one of them already? What is the build quality like?

Earliest Known Sighting of Halley’s Comet – Comets and Meteors on Ancient Greek and Roman Coins

It seems the ancient greeks spotted Halley’s comet in 466BC.

This got me thinking about ancient greek and roman coins that depict comets or meteorites (or at least appear to depict a comet or meteorite). There are more than a few of them, but wasn’t there a very rare ancient greek silver coin minted sometime in the fifth century BC that depicted a “meteorite”? I wonder if the coin was really commemorating the appearance of the Halley’s comet?

I have been searching around the web trying to find pictures of it and some more details, but so far it has eluded me. Trying to remember the details of this is doubly frustating because I am pretty sure I recently saw one of these coins for sale on

I guess I might be thinking of the Armenian king Tigranes the Great, who produced a coin depicting what is believed to be Halley’s Comet in 87BC.

Did anybody out there see a greek coin depicting a comet or meteorite on ebay in the last few weeks?

See this link for more ancient coins that depict comets and meteorites.

The ancient greeks are believed to have worshipped meteorites and kept them in their temples. Until recently The Black Stone of Paphos, a large dark coloured stone found at The Temple of Aphrodite in Paphos, Cyprus, was believed to be a meteorite.

The Crosby Garrett Helmet – Best Detecting Find Ever (Maybe)

Take a look at the latest Christie’s catalogue, the Roman Cavalryman’s helmet pictured on the cover was found by a metal detectorist in Crosby Garrett, Cumbria in May 2010 and was recorded by the Finds Liaison Officer at Tullie House Museum.

The helmet dates from the late first to second centuries AD, is made from tinned bronze and is 16 inches high. Christies have placed an estimate of £200,000-£300,000 on the helmet, which seems, to me at least, to be a very conservative estimate on such a large and significant piece of Roman military equipment. I would be very surprised if the auctioneer’s hammer came down at anything less than half a million pounds.

My major concern about this incredible metal detecting find is who will buy it? Does the Tullie House Museum have the cash to buy this incredible piece of Roman military history? Is the British Museum waiting in the wings for auction day to rush in and save it for the nation? After all of the post credit crunch cut backs, does the British Museum even have the money in reserve to buy it? The sale takes place on Thursday 7 October 2010, so time is short, if there isn’t a rescue plan in place is there time to organise one?

My biggest fear is that the Crosby Garrett Helmet is destined to leave our shores forever. Could the helmet go to the US, Japan or who knows where else? Surely any attempt to export the helmet would be blocked?

I would love to see the Crosby Garrett Helmet go to the Tullie House Museum, but if not to Tullie House, then the British Museum would be the next best thing. I just hope the helmet stays in this country and that the helmet ends up somewhere the general public can go and see it.

Is the Crosby Garrett Helmet the best metal detecting find ever? It may well be. I have certainly added stunning Roman Cavalryman’s helmet to my “must find” list!

There are more pictures and information about the helmet in the online edition of the Christies catalogue on pages 118-123 (pages 116-121 of the print version)

The Return of a Legend – Arado Metal Detectors Back in Business!

Arado Metal Detectors Back in Business! – The Return of a Legend

If it was April I would suspect an elaborate April Fool’s joke, but this seems to be for real – Arado are making a new metal detector!

Arado 320 Deep-seeking Analytical Detector
“The Arado 320 Deep-seeking Analytical Detector has been designed to achieve greatest possible depth on desired objects at the same time as giving highly accurate identification of unwanted iron.”

The Arado 120B is the stuff of legend, almost 30 years later, the original Arado metal detectors sometimes change hands for sums of money above and beyond their original recommended retail price.

Hard to believe the Arado 120B was originally released in 1978! As a kid I always wanted the Arado 130, but I never had the money and later ended up getting the C-Scope 1220B. And yes, I still have the C-Scope 1220B and it still works brilliantly!

Although Arado have returned to the hobby industry, I am no closer to achieving my dream of owning an Arado, the new Arado hobby model, the Arado 320, retails for around £1295. Still cheaper than an Minelab E-Trac, but still more money than I’ve got.

The Searcher Magazine reports that they will be publishing an independent field test report on the Arado 320 in the October issue. I for one can’t wait to see how the new Arado fairs against the Minelabs!

For some pointless but wonderful metal detecting nostalgia, be sure to check out this page on the Arado website, seeing all those old adverts brought the memories flooding back! [Sadly this link is now dead, I’ll update if Arado brings the page back – 13/05/2015]

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