As a kid I’d often visit the beach with my grandparents, just to peacefully watch the waves crash for an hour or so, and maybe look for sea glass or rocks that I’d later find were only pretty when wet from the sea water. On these trips we’d often see a man or woman slowly walking down the beach with a metal detector, smoothly hovering the thing over the sand. It was fascinating. I’d imagine what they would find – old coins, perhaps – maybe in a treasure chest, abandoned by the nonexistent pirates of Cape Cod. The truth, I’d later find after annoying one of the metal-hunters, was much less romantic. He told me that he mostly would find coins, the odd piece of scrap metal – a zipper, or a fastener. He’d found jewelry but always tried to find its owner rather than horde the precious metals and gems himself. I was a bit disappointed, and abandoned my dreams of becoming a full-time metal detector/scavenger.
It seems that the man I spoke to on the beach shares a code of honor with most people who wield the devices. They use them for good and for novelty, and not to gain wealth. A recent thread from u/TheRealJayAre provides great proof of this. After asking people who metal detect to share their greatest finds, the responses consisted mainly of being a happy child playing with a detector, or people finding priceless heirlooms and returning them to their rightful owners. So wholesome. The gratification of finding a lost wedding ring or sentimental locket is completely palpable in their stories. A good read for anyone having a bad day, week, month, or year. And perhaps enough goodness to convince a person to take up a new hobby.