Ed Mosier metal detects 4-5 days a week. His hobby has made him dig up a lot of trash and even some items he considers treasure. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Ed Mosier metal detects 4-5 days a week. His hobby has made him dig up a lot of trash and even some items he considers treasure. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
VAN WERT – Hobbies come in all forms and include a wide variety of activities, but the hobby of one Van Wert man includes digging up a lot of trash to find a little treasure.

Ed Mosier is a retired reserve Van Wert fire fighter who has enjoyed metal detecting for nearly 15 years.

“You never know what’s going to come out of the ground,” said Mosier. “You dig up more trash than you do treasure, but treasure is defined by the person doing the digging. Some of my favorite finds are things that have zero monetary value.”

Mosier has tackle boxes full of interesting finds. On a sunny afternoon, Mosier shared his finds with The Times Bulletin during an interview. He pulled out old coins dating back to the 1800’s, various types of jewelry, old metal cars that were likely lost by a child, the top of a scabbard to a civil war sword with the families name, who still live in Van Wert, engraved into it, and many more items.

His personal favorite item, however, is a metal fireman’s helmet that he found in his own back yard. Mosier believes the helmet to be from the 1940s or 50s.

“Every piece you find, you put that in your hand and you think to yourself, ‘Who is the last person who touched that? When was the last time it was touched?’” said Mosier. “A lot of these pieces were probably someone’s trash at one time but now it’s laid here long enough that I turned out to be the one who found it.”

Mosier spends around 4-5 days a week metal detecting all around Van Wert, but he always makes sure to get permission from land owners before making his way on to properties.

“People normally don’t have a problem with you doing it but it’s like anything else, you get one person that goes out and ruins it for everybody else,” said Mosier. “You have to have permission; you can’t just randomly walk up and start digging up yards.”

The machine will beep as he walks, waving it back and forth. The detector he uses has many settings that help him find objects like coins. When something is under the detector, it will keep beeping and will tell him how far down the object may be.

Mosier noted that he typically goes back to the same properties many times. After a heavy rain, a ground freeze, or other acts of weather, the ground shifts and can bring up items that weren’t detectable before. Most detectors, like the one Mosier uses, can reach 8-9 inches into the ground.

“You never clean a property out,” said Mosier. “I’ve been through my own yard a gazillion times.”

“Crazy things come out of the ground sometimes,” continued Mosier. “One of my prized coins is a 1851 penny.”

The penny he spoke of was twice the size of what a penny today looks like.

Mosier started metal detecting out of boredom but has enjoyed the thrill of the hunt.

“Your odds in hitting monetary stuff [isn’t high],” said Mosier. “You dig a lot of trash, [but I like doing it] because of the prospect that the next one you dig might be something.”

The list of items that Mosier has found is endless. From buttons to old metal lipstick containers to large bullets, every hunt can bring something new. It’s not uncommon for him to find a lot of lead toys as well. He noted that he finds quite a bit of lead toy soldiers, which are no longer made due to the hazard that lead possesses.

All of his finds have also led him to become more knowledgeable in history. When he finds an item, he researches it to see what it is, where it may have come from, and how old it may be.

Mosier also prospects in his free time. He will go to rivers to pan and work for gold.

“People look at me like I’m crazy until I pull out a bottle [of gold] and show it to them,” noted Mosier.

Metal detecting can be a fun and time consuming hobby but Mosier suggests people give it a try.

“It’s fun to do, it requires a lot of getting up and down but the most important thing is permission, permission, permission,” said Mosier