Ellwood’s Patent Ventilator

23rd July 2017 — 20 Comments

Sometimes finding a positive identification for the amorphous bits of metal and ‘partefacts’ found by detectorists can lead us up many garden paths before arriving at a satisfactory conclusion.

The eventual discovery of what an item might be can be particularly sweet, especially if the journey has been one with a winding and often tortuous route – such as that taken by Australian detectorist Darrin Hodge.

Darrin was searching on what had been a large Chinese camp situated on the Indigo goldfields in North East Victoria when he came across what he termed as, “A lovely little relic,” clearly marked with the legend, ‘Ellwood’s Patent London’. Clearly shown on the 38mm brass disk was a rampant lion. Plenty of clues, then! Take a look.

Courtesy Darrin Hodge

Elwood Haynes

Always out to improve his researching skills, Darrin did what most of us do in the first instance – consulted Mr. Google and his vast resources. He found out that the American Elwood Haynes was the inventor of the self-propelled buggy in the late 1890’s. Great! It was all falling into place; the latest coin found at that spot was dated 1901. Furthermore he formed the first company in the US to produce automobiles profitably. From his findings Darrin concluded that what he had found was the middle of a steering wheel or may be a hubcap from one of those vehicles. But, was it? Remember, it’s only 38mm diameter, Darrin!

Alas, in his excitement Darrin had also failed to transcribe the name properly. Instead of ELLWOOD he had searched on ELWOOD. He had spent a long time time searching up the garden path, getting nowhere and coming to the wrong conclusions … and, he suspected this was the case. It was time to consult the Australian Metal Detecting and Relic Hunting forum ( AMDRH ) for a second opinion.

And, as they say, we ‘cut to the chase.’ A fellow member did a simple search and found out that the item was a sweat valve from Ellwood’s ‘air chamber’ sun helmet. Positive ID; case solved. More details here courtesy of MiltarySunHelmets.com

The arrow points to what Darrin had found – picture courtesy of the Roland Gruschka Collection

Another shot of the interior illustrating the only way for air to be ventilated through the top ventilator cap is through the inner shell. (Collection of Roland Gruschka)

What Darrin had found and rather unusual little artefact, the use for which had eluded him and he made a false assumption as to its use. He was led up that garden path because of his simple error. I think we have all done this. The moral of this story – if it has one – is to make sure that you feed Mr Google with the correct spelling of names or words when you do a search. An extra L can make an L of a difference.


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20 responses to Ellwood’s Patent Ventilator

  1. That was one “cool” find…..and I did something similar not too long ago. Can’t remember the word or term but I was also off by one letter.

  2. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 23rd July 2017 at 1:58 AM

    Yes I know I have done the spelling error on more than one occasion too.

    The other thing that is difficult to sort out is people that will post a close up photo of an object asking for help, but don’t have anything beside the mystery object for scale.

    I enjoy try to “crack the code” so to speak, but all of the information you have at the time certainly helps.

  3. I love that term partefacts John.. a very apt description of what we find.

    And who among us has not made a few spelling errors? LOL


  4. UK meatl detectrists shuld lern to spel. your saying? Thats a good idear. Then the ones what carnt wont look like such unsculed fules LOL LOL [emoticon] {emoticon]

    • Paul – I don’t usually post all your comments, especially if they are foul and obnoxious. However, this one does show another – albeit warped – point of view and maybe worth exposure. Many of my friends would disagree about that, but It also illustrates the sort of person you are.

      My next blog post is dedicated to you, Mr. Barford. You are somewhat unique in the annals of moronic and biased comments re detectorists? I don’t think I’ve ever met a dickhead of your calibre.

      Coming your way soon … like tomorrow, innit!
      Call in the lawyers now!

      • For once I found Pauls comments humorous. Indeed, it is the sort of thing I would have written. But then I also am sick.

      • Wow-Barford’s got jokes! Who knew?? I think we should be kinder to him, he’s obviously trying to mask his cries for help with humor.

        Now on to something more important–great post John, I think we all learned a little from that story. Have a great day!

  5. Who could have imagined that the item would come from a sun hat?
    This great hobby of ours would be very frustrating without the help of Mr Google.

    It must have been extremely difficult to ID finds before computers became popular.

    All hail Mr Google.

  6. Google can be very useful, but you need to be careful what you search for. Many years ago I found what I thought to be a small heavy door knob and after some time later it was identified by the PAS as a Roman spear butt.
    Keen to find out more I googled it forgetting the Roman tag, the results were surprising to say the least!

  7. Make sure that you put my friend Dick Stout in the right sequence … or you are bound to have trouble! 🙂

  8. Thank you again John, for your enlightenment, and entertainment. As you say, this was one “L” of a mistake. I was thinking that it was a token of some kind.

    Goes to prove, no matter how much experience we have, there is always something new to take into the grey matter cupboard, and this fits the bill entirely.

  9. he he john nice little bite at pale barfoored look forward to your article

  10. An amusing and edifying post once again! Reminds me of the Feb 2009 Page 66 Searcher Mag item titled ‘Mystery Key’ which was variously described as perhaps 14 – 25 Century or maybe Roman due to the intricate and well described design. I instantly recognised it as one of what used to be ubiquitous Edinburgh ot Glasgow ‘Latch Keys’ used to open the big street facing doorways giving access to the common stairwell of tenement buildings. They were the stock in trade of posties, police officers, delivery people etc who needed to get access from time to time.
    It was amusing to see the key so gloriously described and being so mystifying the finder and others, as they had no means of knowing it’s true character.
    No disrespect or mockery intended by the way! Maybe just a little smugness on my part as I had knowledge that they didn’t – on that occasion! I’m sure I will have and will again make similar erroneous judgements with past and future partefacts!

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