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  • Writer's pictureOld Bone

Thank God for "Amateur" Historians

Fellow detectorist, preservationist and Virginian, Bill Dancy, has written a comprehensive book about colonial artifacts in Virginia. I have already written a review for Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine .

Here's the bottom line on Bill's book . . .

In addition to a wealth of practical information on colonial artifact recovery, the book is also chocked full of historical tidbits; such as a brief history of colonial copper and silver coinage. The close up color photographs (nearly 1000) of the artifacts (the vast majority the author’s own finds) are among the most detailed I’ve ever seen and stunningly beautiful. Every page overflows with eye candy for the relic hunter and collector. The quality of the images rivals anything you’ll see in academic archeology textbooks or high quality magazines. . . . There is one more thing that I really like about this book. This effort proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that “amateur” archaeologists and historians are making serious and dramatic contributions to the study of history and archeology. Dancy’s work is a textbook example of how passion and practice can lead to expertise in almost any field without formal training. American autodidacts have contributed some of the most respected works in the fields of archeology and history. Shelby Foote, a college dropout, wrote one of the definitive works on the American Civil War. Bruce Catton, another renowned Civil War historian, was also a college drop out. Dancy notes in his acknowledgements that Ivor Noël Hume “had a big influence” on him and is one of his mentors. Most readers may not be familiar with Mr. Hume but I, too, am a fan. I mention Hume because he is the epitome of an autodidact who turned passion and practice into renowned expertise in the field of archeology. He was a prolific writer and, for 30 years, worked for Colonial Williamsburg where he became that organization’s director of archaeological research.

Bill is a credit to the hobby of relic hunting, metal detecting and to collectors everywhere. He exemplifies a professional and respectful attitude toward the care and preservation of artifacts.

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