The Lost Tavern
By: Diane Toogood
This is a story about our friend Arty and a hunting adventure we shared which will go down in the history books! What can I say about Arty? He has an intelligence and lust for life that many of us will never know. He is interesting, enthusiastic, and acts like a child on Christmas 365 days a year. His thirst for research is unquenchable! When he has his mind set to find a particular area that he has researched, there is no stopping him— not snakes, ticks, or whatever may be in the way.
Arty began metal detecting on the beaches of New Jersey, where he lives. He found a ship’s spike one day, which led him into the realm of research and, for him, discovery! When he speaks about areas he has researched it is like being in history class, only Arty is so much more interesting than any history teacher I ever heard of, excluding Ed Fedory. If we have a long way to drive to get to our destination, Arty could keep you entertained the whole trip with his knowledge and never-ending stories.
Arty is known as “Arty Facts,” on the TreasureNet forum, and that is where my son, Jim, met him. When they displayed finds they conversed back and forth about different sites that each has searched, and their finds. They decided to get together for a hunt in one of Arty’s fields where he said he had made some phenomenal finds. Arty told Jim he wished that he could have seen all the stuff that came out of this field the first time he was there. They found a lot of buttons and some coins their first time out. To reciprocate, Jim asked Arty if he wanted to go to a farm field where we had permission to detect and had found an outstanding number of buttons, coins, and other artifacts... our “Field of Dreams.”
When I met Arty he was like a kid in a candy store! He was so excited that he could hardly sleep the night before the hunt. When we would take a break he would talk about a certain field that he had researched, and it was previously unsearched just like the field that we were on. It was an old tavern site, and he said that he had dug over 300 buttons and coins that were in fabulous condition. I told him that I had written some articles for Western & Eastern Treasures, and asked if he would like for me to write an article featuring him and his finds. He said that would be great!
Jim and I went to Arty’s home, where he showed us some of the most beautiful coins and buttons I have ever seen. They were in fantastic condition! It blew me away to see what he had dug from this site that he had painstakingly researched for a couple of years at least. This field yielded buttons, coins, buckles, jewelry, cannonballs... everything imaginable! Jim and Arty have detected places where other people wouldn’t think of going. Arty had basically been a loner when he detected, but soon realized how much fun it is to have someone to share his finds with. Jim and I hunt together most of the time, and now we three detect together when we can.
Arty called Jim one day to say that the field where he had found all the buttons had been plowed and smoothed out. Would Jim and I like to join him for a hunt? Would we ever! I drove to Jim’s, and we left for our adventure. On the way Jim said, “I feel like today is going to be a good day.”
“When I get those feelings, I usually find something special,” I told him. “I hope you find something good!” I also told him that their “Secret Weapon” was going along, so they probably would do well!
We also spoke about coins that we would like to find. We talked at length about the hobby and other finds that we hoped to make one day. Little did Arty and Jim know what was in store for them that morning.
The field was a good-sized one, and we were totally stoked to get out there and detect. I hunted about 100' from where they started to detect, and there were a lot of targets to dig. We had been there about 30 minutes when Jim let out a yell! Arty ran over, looked at me with those big bug eyes, and said, “You aren’t going to believe what Jim found!”
At the same time Jim started jumping and dancing and whooping it up. Now, trust me... Jim doesn’t dance. As I ran over, he exclaimed, “Mom, I just found a George Washington button!” He showed the button to me, and I almost died. It was in awesome condition, especially for being dug! Well, we stopped and took some pictures and gave high fives all around. What a fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime find!
It was hard to get back to detecting. We were all on a natural high, and I can’t even imagine how Jim felt. Right after that, Arty let out a whoop and found a 1742 George II copper— again, in fantastic condition. This field had come back to life again since the plowing and rain.
About ten minutes later Jim shouted, “I found another one!” Sure enough, there he was with another George Washington button, the same variety as the one he had dug minutes earlier. We were all out of our minds in disbelief. We took more photos, followed by more high fives.
Suddenly, Arty said, “Girl, get yourself up here!” He was freaking out over the buttons Jim had found. I can imagine what was going through his mind at that point: “I hope I find one, too!” Well, guess what? Little did Arty know that his very next target would also be a George Washington button, exactly like the two that Jim found! We were all standing there in total awe and disbelief. One George Washington button is the find of a lifetime, but to find three in one area...!
Arty said, “If these are cuff or vest buttons, there should be more. Come on, Diane, find another one! Well, that would make a great ending to this story, but it wasn’t meant to be. There were seemingly no more to be found. We had pretty much pounded that site, and it was time to call it a day. Even though I didn’t find a George Washington button, I was on an awesome high, just having experienced such history and held it in the palm of my hand. All together we found 60 or so assorted buttons, the three George Washington buttons, a number of buckles, and plenty of other keepers.
When Arty got home, he posted his finds, and Jim posted his as well. They were still flying high and probably will be for a very long time. I still can’t wrap my mind around their good fortunes. It couldn’t have happened to two nicer people. They both made the Banner on TreasureNet with their finds, so we can call them the Jersey Banner Boys! I guess there may still be a happy ending for me. It is only a plow away. Thanks, Arty, for the memories.
Editor’s Note: Did Diane’s dream of finding a Washington Inaugural button come true? Turn to the Best Finds of 2013 in this issue for the answer!