A few months back, I was out hunting a early colonial village that had been abandoned in the woods of central Massachusetts. The site has been a popular location for metal detectorists over the years. Targets are few and far between. I had to get smart and started moving brush and logs out of the way stepping down on barberry bushes to get my coil over the ground. I decided to take a walk into the woods to see if I could locate another cellar that may have been missed by others detectorists over the years.
To my surprise, I came across a very small shallow cellar depression in the ground. I started swinging the DEUS with my 11″ coil over the ground on the outer lip. Running the Hot Program I was getting a lot of low iron signals and some high 98-99 iron signals as well. I usually go by sound mostly so decided to notch out 98-99. After a few minutes I got a faint high tone in between some iron. I dug down and popped the plug out. When I began to pinpoint the hole I pulled out 3 nails and some scrap metal but there was still something there! I swing my coil over to re confirm. Started pinpointing around the hole again and it was driving me crazy because i couldn’t find the target!
Finally after all the nails and junk I narrowed it down to a small pile of dirt. To my surprise I pulled out a complete cuff-link!. Is I cleaned it off I began to see a fancy design that looked like what appeared to be a pineapple. Thinking no more of it I placed it in my pouch and moved on.
Returning home to clean up my finds I realized that the cuff-link design was not a pineapple but in fact a hot air balloon! As I normally do I posted my finds to one of the Facebook groups that I am a part of.
One helpful member was able to shed some light on my hot air balloon cuff-link. Turns out that this cuff-link was made to commemorate the first hot air balloon flight in 1783 (On October 15, 1783, Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d’Arlandes were the first human passengers on a Montgolfier balloon. The balloon was in free flight, meaning it was not tethered. On January 19, 1784, a huge Montgolfier hot air balloon carried seven passengers to a height of 3,000 feet over the city of Lyons.)”
The public was fascinated by balloon flight, and a craze for all things balloon was firmly established. The rage inspired clothing, jewelry, and just about every conceivable form of adornment for home or person. It illustrates just how momentous the development of flight really was and how the ability to fly has changed our world. That is my story of the finding of the 1780s commemorative cuff-link and my research into understanding the “Balloonania” craze that inspired the design!
~ Jon Tetreault