Something quite unusual is happening in the UK at the moment. We’re basking – in my case melting – in the heat. But I’m not complaining. Not much anyway. The catalyst for this this blog post was an item on the BBC website and the Sunday Times about the perils of the English countryside where they mentioned cows, wild boar, adders, deer … but not much about the little critters … the insects!
For detectorists out in the field, kepi-type hats are essential to protect the neck from the sun, but how many have to good sense to take other precautions … until it’s too late!
The threat of mosquitoes was far from my mate Dave’s mind when he set off last weekend for a couple of days detecting. After all, this was England and not the Med! He’d remembered the cans of beer.
When he returned home, his arms and legs were a bloody mess, both literally and metaphorically. On the Monday, he had to take a day off work because he felt so ill.
Anyway, I guess the farmer is pleased for this very un-British summer. The crops are lusher than normal due to the best growing season for years, and insects are also having a whale of a time. Through the shimmering humidity, detectorists should be aware, not just of the mosquitoes, but clouds of other potentially dangerous insects. This is a very bad year for biters. The ants are also on the march!
Horse flies are flourishing and are also capable of giving a painful bite to humans. In the North East we called them ‘clegs’. Then there are the blood-sucking ticks that can transmit Lyme disease, which can result in death if untreated. It’s a battlefield out there!
Then there are the irritants! When encountered in the field, they can drive you crazy. I’m talking about thrips or thunder flies. On days like this it is far too hot to leave doors and windows closed. I’ve just read hundreds of solutions for keeping them off plants … but none for suggesting how I can prevent them from getting behind my computer screen!
If this situation becomes the norm then I’ll be seriously thinking about buying shares in companies that make insect repellant! But remember, it’ll only take one bout of severe cold winter weather to banish silly thoughts like that from my mind!
A find from the Thames foreshore proved initially to be a bit of a poser for the UKDFD identification team. Nigel Nicholson eventually came up with the definitive answer he had gleaned from an article in the March 1997 copy of The Searcher magazine.
UKDFD 11921 shown below illustrates a white metal die-cast toy variously known as a clicker, cricket or sometimes referred to as a clacker. I remember having one of these shaped as a frog when I was younger. The picture below shows how it was placed in the hand. To make the noise, you pressed down on the metal strip inside the housing and then quickly released it – click-click! I seem to recollect that the versions of my childhood resembled a small plastic box.
Chris Littledale, the founder and director of the Brighton Toy and Model Museum said that these cheap toys were made all over the world for a very long period and this example probably dated from the early 1900’s. The diagram below shows actual size the four elevations of a frog-type clicker.
The maker’s identity can be determined by the initials CR and ‘Paris’. Charles Rossignol (1868-1962) specialised in painted tin clockwork vehicles. Incidentally, but I’m sure that you know, the word BREVETE is French for patent. Although I haven’t seen any of these toys around lately, I am told that dog-trainers use clicker-training to great advantage and is an easy way to train your pet for they don’t require strength or much coordination on the part of the trainer!
Adapted from an article originally published in the UKDFD newsletter Borrowed Times, April 2008. Pencil illustrations by kind permission of The Searcher magazine – March 1997, page 28.
‘Hutch’ of the British Metal Detecting forum has told me that my post has solved a mystery for him. One of his found objects has now been identified after reading this blog post. His find also incorporates a whistle. Thank you for allowing me to post the object on here. It is appreciated.
Update 2 – April 2013
I was delighted to see another insect clicker in the shape of a wasp on the Detecting Scotland forum. The finder, Greig Getty has kindly allowed me to show it on here. You must agree that it’s a cracker! … no, a clicker!
Update 3 – 3rd September 2013
Mike Morgan sent me the picture of an artefact that was causing some confusion within the detecting community with ID’s ranging from Roman to Medieval to Victorian. Then he came across my blog and all was revealed. Mike was pleased. I thank him for the picture of the (hare?) clicker and that of the underbelly too, which is so important.
Update 4 – 23rd July 2014
Tartan Wonder of the Detectorist Forum posted to say that he’d found something similar about 5 years ago and thought it was perhaps the lid from a tobacco box. At leas he now has a positive ID! He also supplied 3 great pictures, which I have stitched together.
Update 5 – 24rd July 2014
Hoops McCann from the Detecting Scotland Forum has sent me these fine examples he has found. Thanks for sharing, Hoops.
This blogpost has not only been resurrected, but more material has been added making it just a little more comprehensive and interesting … well, I think so!