If you'd seen a couple of pros use their metal detectors to find coins and a gold ring recently in a Bountiful baseball field you might be ready to buy one of the electronic devices and make your fortune.
James A. Normandi, San Rafael, Calif., came to Utah to speak to several treasure hunting and coin and token hunting clubs. After visiting with Joe Rawson, Bountiful, a fellow coin-shooter, the two experts went to a grassy playing field near 400 North and Orchard Drive to hunt.Both men had metal detectors, and within a few minutes they had found and deftly pried up two quarters, several other smaller coins and a gold ring.
Normandi, who uses the pen name Jimmy Sierra in the numerous articles he writes, has found treasure troves of gold and silver coins, gold nuggets and even paper money, with the aid of a metal detector.
He said the newest metal detectors can actually pinpoint the location of a roll of paper money because of the metal in the ink used.
"I got interested in metal detecting during the Korean War when I saw soldiers looking for land mines with large detecting devices," Normandi said.
"I was a pharmacist and opened up a pharmacy in California after the war and then got interested in treasure hunting and started selling metal detectors in my store."
At 59, he has been all over the United States and to many foreign countries looking for coins and gold.
While he has found many caches, Normandi is most famous for finding the Goat Doctor's Cache, a horde of silver dollars he dug up in Placerville, Calif., several years ago.
"I found three coffee cans full of silver dollars and a strong box full of paper money and coins about six feet deep on an old ranch. I always get permission of the landowners before I hunt, so I never have any trouble.
"Sometimes people let me hunt with no strings attached and sometimes they want me to split whatever I find with them and that's fine."
You don't always need a metal detector to find treasure, Normandi said. "I know a man in California who was fixing a fence on a farm he had just purchased and when he pulled out a rotted post and started digging the hole deeper he found a mess of horseshoes in the ground.
"He kept digging and smashed into a big bottle of gold nuggets. After that, he was more careful and found several more bottles full of nuggets in other post holes, buried under layers of horseshoes. He has found 27 ounces of gold and is still digging up his fences."
"People call me all the time to ask me to look for money they buried years ago and can't find."
Normandi said a man called him a few weeks ago and asked him to look for a diamond ring on his front lawn. "The man said he didn't know if there really was a ring there or not, but he said many years ago a young couple had a fight in a car as they were passing his home and the girl threw her diamond ring out the car window.
"The first thing he knew, the couple had stopped and were hunting in his front yard for the ring. They didn't find it and didn't leave their names and the homeowner must not have thought much about it for 15 years or more until one day he heard about me and called me."
Normandi said he looked about 10 minutes before he found the ring, which had a full carat stone in a center mounting and several diamonds on both sides of it. "It was worth our trouble," he said.
"There are people looking for coins and treasure all over the world.
"People in the Philippines are hunting for billions of dollars in loot, including the crown jewels of Thailand, buried at the end of World War II by the infamous Japanese general Yamashita.
"In Australia, people use metal detectors to hunt for giant gold nuggets worth from thousands of dollars to more than $1 million. In the United States, people hunt parks, beaches and playgrounds for coins and in wastelands for gold and silver."
Like hunting for metal in Utah? Join the club
Coin hunter Joe Rawson, 71, took up metal detecting when he retired 10 years ago.
Rawson says his favorite hunting grounds are the ski slopes and has found several bank boxes full of silver coins, tokens and gold rings. He also hunts up to 4 feet deep in streams, fresh water lakes and reservoirs and the Great Salt Lake, wearing fishermen's rubber chest waders and using a special underwater detector.
A charter member of the Intermountain Treasure Hunters Association and past secretary-treasurer of the club, he invites anyone interested in treasure hunting, prospecting or coin-shooting, as his sport is called, to attend club meetings.
The club meets the second Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Kaysville American Legion. The club sponsors outings and contests.
To learn more about metal detecting and coin and treasure hunting, contact Rawson at 292-0904; Todd Anderson, Logan, president of the club, at 752-7658, or Brian Allan, Layton, club vice president, at 546-4512.