About a month back I came across a Facebook group called relic-cons, arti-fakers and planters page. Intrigued, I asked to join the group. I will be the first to admit I was leery of the site. Over the years I have seen fellow detectorists accused of faking finds that I didn’t believe. One in particular that I remember well was when Minelab FBS technology was first hitting the U.S. market, people with other brands were trashing the people making great finds with their Minelabs. I have also seen over the years people newer to the hobby using an entry level machine call out people with years of experience simply because they aren’t finding the same kind of great finds as them.
Once accepted to the group I spent a lot of time in there seeing just what it was about. I have to say I was surprised. What I seen was a lot of experienced detectorists calling out blatant fake finds and debating questionable finds. So far I have to say I haven’t seen anything I don’t agree with. Sometimes it is simply a debate, often times with the outcome of most agreeing they aren’t faked finds. Other times it is so blatantly obvious everyone agrees. Then there are the ones where there is no doubt, there is proof something was bought or faked, those are the best!
Who started the group
After a lot of research I contacted Jeremy Simonetti, the founder of the group. I quickly understood why the group was ran so well and not just a bunch of calling people out. Jeremy has been detecting for about 30 years, he’s also an archeologist who has worked on many sites and studied artifacts for many years. Digging as many coins and relics as he has along with his background, this guy knows how to spot fakes. He has also put some great people in administrator positions to ensure all goes well in his group.
I wanted to have Jeremy on my podcast to discuss why he does this so I contacted him and he got right back to me. We did the podcast with him earlier this week (1/8/2018) and one of his administrators, Joe Toth accompanied him on the show. To listen to the show click here
How to spot fakes
Before I start this I have to first tell you, by no means am I any kind of expert at spotting fakes but I have dug and seen enough coins and relics come out of the ground to often know when something is fishy. One of the big red flags is people posting pictures of clean buffalo and V nickels. If someone is consistently posting dug nickels from dirt that are in great shape, take notice! Another thing is shiny copper Indian head pennies and large cents, I’ve dug a few hundred of each over the years and never have I found one that was shiny! People finding silver dollars on a regular basis, I’m not saying it can’t be done but it should throw up a big red flag as well! In my 20 plus years of detecting and all the people in this hobby that I know and have hunted with I only know of a few Silver dollar coins ever being found. To find one is about as rare as finding a gold coin! Another one you will see pretty often is shiny silver coins with no dirt around the recessed areas with a little dirt sprinkled on them, I always get a kick out of those!
These are just a few things to look for. As far as Indian artifacts, faked patinas, re-manufactured pieces, these are all out of my realm but it is all happening and probably more often than you think. This Facebook group is controversial for sure but I believe it is needed. It isn’t just about calling people out it’s also about educating others to spot fakes.
Why I feel this group is so important
Speaking as someone who has hunted with a person who fakes finds it’s not a good experience. Always wondering if your settings are right, wondering how you missed targets that they just found behind you. This person was running the same metal detector as me, hunting the same places I was yet they always seemed to squeak out more, better finds than me. There were some red flags along the way but when he walked up to me while detecting one day to show me a bright, shiny Indian head, I knew!
In the scheme of things this is pretty minor although it was aggravating until I figured out what was going on. It is troubling for people new to the hobby constantly seeing someone using the same detector as them, hunting the same kind of sites and pulling out much better finds and not knowing that person is faking finds for some kind of self-gain!
Many of these people looking for recognition are doing videos, posting on social media and forums. Let’s face it, if you want to get recognized in this hobby, the quickest way is to show your awesome finds. Faking finds will only catch up to you though! People new to the hobby usually get caught pretty easy by making many of the mistakes mentioned and more.
Last but not least, a lot of these people are faking finds for monetary gain! Unfortunately this is a big issue in our hobby, people faking relics and artifacts to try and make money off of others who aren’t able to spot a fake. This is why I support the group and hope others will as well. We need others to take a stand and although this group is still small it has already put a stop to people posting fake finds and deterred others from doing the same for fear of being called out.
I would like to see more Administrators of groups and forums utilize the group to at least get educated on how to spot fakes. People don’t need to be called out publicly but it does need to stop. Faked finds hurt the metal detecting and artifact communities and we need to work together to stop or at least minimize this issue facing our great hobby!