By: Gary Lee Hicks
It was a cold, sunny day in November when my friend Eric Ellis called to see if I wanted to go detecting. We agreed to meet at a nearby sod farm and search an old house site. The sod had just been removed, and the ground was as flat as a pool table. The location was notorious for the number of lead bullets found there. The previous inhabitants must have shot off their front porch daily to pass the time.
I had my White’s XLT, and Eric was detecting with his White’s Eagle. We quickly ground balanced and walked out into the field, swinging. I preferred to run patterns, while Eric walked wherever the spirits guided him.
After about 30 minutes Eric decided to take a break and just wander about the field, looking for surface relics. I got a nice signal at 6'', removed 3'' of topsoil, and checked the target area again. The meter jumped from 40 to 87. This was getting interesting! After removing more soil, I saw a green coin in the bottom of the hole. I shouted for Eric to come over and share in the recovery. We could see that it was a large cent, but dirt covered the date. After some cautious cleaning a date of 1827 was revealed. High fives and laughter ensued.
My find inspired Eric to return to detecting. His first signal was in the ID range where “slaw” (what we called cut up pieces of aluminum can) was expected to surface. As I continued to dig old flat buttons, suddenly I heard Eric talking to himself. “This isn’t slaw!” he exclaimed, and then I heard laughter. He was holding a tiny piece of silver- a cut half of a Spanish 1/2 real. He handed me the coin, and I saw that he was lucky enough to have the date side of the coin. I said, “Guess the date.”
“No,” I replied, “it’s a 1781!”
As we continued to detect, we recalled that another friend, Fritz Clemens, had also found a cut 1/2 real nearby, about five years earlier. We wondered if it could possibly be the mate to Eric’s find.
When we got back to my house to celebrate, we Skyped Fritz and told him the news. He was excited about our good luck, and we then asked him the big question: “Does your 1/2 real have a date?”
I took photos of Eric’s coin and sent them to Fritz via e-mail. The next morning I got Skyped again by Fritz, who said, “It’s a match!” The two pieces were indeed from the same coin. What are the odds of that happening?
We all came to the conclusion that some poor guy had cut the coin in half to make change, and the two pieces then went their separate ways, not to be reunited for over 230 years. I have been reading treasure magazines for over 30 years and have never heard of two halves of the same coin being found, especially Spanish silver, five years apart by two different people.
Eric later sent his half to Fritz as a gift, saying that they belonged, “Together again.”