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Reporter tries her hand at treasure hunting

Melissa Topey • Apr 11, 2012 at 3:00 PM

I am a treasure hunter. I am completely hooked.  I am ready to go again with Kevin Lykins, treasure hunter extraordinaire, after only a brief outing in which the earth at Sandusky’s Central Park surrendered to us a quarter, two dimes and a ring.

My find was modest, but thrilling nonetheless.

Lykins, however, has found many coins in his years of treasure hunting — silver dollars, Standing Liberty quarters, everyday quarters, dimes and nickels.

He has found rings and jewelry, too.

Some of it is cheap paste jewelry, but some is worth a pretty penny, such as the men’s gold ring he wears, which has a 2-carat diamond.

On a recent weekday, Lykins and I capitalized on sunny skies as we set out for the park with a high-end metal detector.

When the finder screeched out a tone, it was game on.

Lykins would listen to the tone, then read aloud the finder’s display, helping me determine if it was the real deal or just a false reading.

It was a real reading.

We both dropped to the ground.

He handed me a digging device, and I was breaking ground quicker then a real estate developer.

First was a dime.

I thought, “This is fun.”

Some kids eventually noticed us and crowded around to get a piece of the action.

A minute later, the machine toned again.

The display indicated our find: a quarter.

But the machine was reading funny, too, as if it were picking up two signals. So I started digging.

The kids demanded to know: “What is it?”

I soon found the quarter, then checked the hole with a handheld probe that detects metal.

Always double-check the hole of a find.

The probe sounded.

The machine was right: Something else was there.

I started to dig.

Something metal — a flash of sparkle in the dark.

We both reached into the hole.

It was a ring.

How did it get there? Is it real? Was this a setup?

Alas, it was the real deal.

Now I was drunk on treasure. More. I wanted more.

Swinging the metal detector around, I surveyed the ground and stared at the machine, waiting.

Come on.

The machine toned out, the display advertising our find: a dime. We plucked the coin, and I was basking with loot in my pocket.

For those people who think someone with a metal detector is a joke, you are so wrong. Lykins has three metal detectors worth $9,000.

His finds have earned him much more than that throughout the years.

My bounty was worth nowhere near what some of Lykins’ finds have tallied.

I later had the ring appraised by Michelle Bertsch-Harold, of Bertsch Jewelers on West Market Street.

She said it’s worth about $45.

Lykins, meanwhile, has also found some amazing historical pieces.

To me, that’s the real treasure: the stories attached to these old pieces.

Who held them? How did they come to fall in this certain spot? Lykins once found an 1824 50-cent piece in Sandusky.

Almost two centuries ago, it was worth a lot of money to the person who held it in his hand. What was he planning to buy with it?

Another one of his great finds: a medallion that was given only to descendants of those people who came over on the Mayflower.

Lykins found it in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. A name and date engraved on the back of the medallion was scratched off by time, making it impossible to read.

There was no way to find the owners, no way to learn the true story behind the medallion. Maybe that’s what treasure hunting is about.

It’s a thrill to find buried treasure just inches under the soil, but the historical mysteries are an unmistakable lure, too.

I am a treasure hunter.  And I want another story.

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