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Lost Treasure Library

By Land ~ Sea Discovery Group Staff

Did you ever get that urge on a rainy Sunday afternoon to hunt down a treasure story at the local library? Perhaps it's two in the morning and you can't sleep because you just know there's a lead you missed somewhere when you were doing research? Maybe you just enjoy a good treasure story now and then.

When you're involved with prospecting and treasure hunting you find yourself reading a lot. It seems that when you're not in the field you find yourself in a library hoping they're not about to close before you finish your project. Sometimes you show up at your local prospecting shop and spend some time flipping through pages of treasure books on the shelf. You glance up at the sign on the wall "THIS IS NOT A LIBRARY" and hope no one notices you. Friends, if you had trouble with history class in high school I guarantee you, your teacher wouldn't know you now. Historical information is just one of the keys to successful treasure hunting. Well mates it was all of the above that started my hunt for my own lost treasure library.

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Part of the authors lost treasure library.

I suppose I have dreams like everyone else of finding the "Lost Mine" or the clues to the whereabouts of a sunken ship and its buried treasure. Sometimes the dream can be as simple as, myself being the first to metal detect a park or the site of an old building being torn down. Whatever the case may be, try to specialize your subjects as much as possible in your library hunt. Stick to an area that is as local as you can get and a subject that you want to work with or you'll end up with books that collect a lot of dust, and I don't mean gold dust. When you first start searching you may be overwhelmed by what you find and if you haven't limited yourself to a certain subject area and a budget you'll find yourself snatching up all you see. For example you might find a wonderful old book about the silver mines in Nevada, and though it's not very expensive, it will set you back ten bucks. If you've got the ten dollars to blow, go ahead, but if you live in California and want to research gold mines then you've just created a dust collector's item.

So, where does one start? My first books where purchased from my local prospecting shop. They were mostly how to books. How to pan for gold, how to metal detect, and how to do this and that. These books along with treasure hunting magazines give most people a great beginning library. The books give you the how to and the magazines give you the ideas and thoughts of other treasure hunters.

My next book was from a sportsman's outfitting store. It was a simple book of trails in the area I live in. This book has been very valuable to me as trail books tend to lead you through history. Old mining camps, creel clubs, and ghost towns will spring off the pages at you. Now you want to know more about these places, like when they were popular, who went there, why, and so on. So now you look to books on local history.

Local history books can be expensive. Keep in mind that many people of different walks of life want these books for a variety of reasons so the book seller prices the books according to supply and demand. The best place to find your hometown history book is "out of town" as they will be far less expensive. Mostly used and rare book stores carry them. Search the shelves well when you go, not just for local history but other areas that may go hand in hand with your hunt. As an example, while at a book store looking for local history on the San Gabriel mountains I found a very interesting book about an incline railroad and ghost town that was in the hills above Pasadena not two miles from millions of unsuspecting people. I found the book under the railroad section. Some book stores specialize in certain areas. It pays to tell the clerks what areas you're looking for.

Other places to search for books are local museums or your local historical society. Even if they don't have a book you want, you'll get an eye full of information. You can also find interesting material through mail order. Usually in the back of magazines you'll find their adds. A self addressed, stamped, envelope usually gets you on a mail list for a year.

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Just part of the horde of treasure hunting magazines found in an estate sale.

My favorite places to search for books are rummage sales, garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales. The books you find at these sales are just unwanted books. You have to be early when you go out looking because the good deals don't last long. Many book dealers hunt these spots also. Books are mostly priced around 50 cents to a dollar even for hard covers. If you ever intend to stray from your subject matter this is the time to do it. At a recent church rummage sale I strayed from gold mining to pirates when I found five great old books in a box under a table covered with true romance paperbacks. Always dig through the boxes completely! You may comb many a garage or estate sale before you find one book, but then there's the mother lode just around the corner. In the better neighborhoods you find the better books. I found the mother lode at an estate sale in Riverside, California. The man that had died collected magazines, they were every where in the house, life, Post, National Geographic, and on and on. Off the kitchen were the laundry room and a pantry. Stacked on the washer and dryer were Desert mags going back to the thirties and in the pantry, floor to ceiling, were western and treasure mags! They were complete runs. I asked the lady if they were selling well and she looked at her sales sheet and said "No." I offered her 200 dollars for them all and to my amazement she said "Sure." I scored over 2800 magazines that day with a wealth of treasure hunting information to last a lifetime for 200 bucks!

Another great place to get books believe it or not is from the library. Many libraries have an organization called "Friends of the Library" They accept donated books and discards and then have "book sales" to earn more money to buy better books for your library or to supplement reading programs. Membership can be as low as 5 dollars for a year. If you're a member you get invited to their sales before the general public.

Your lost treasure library will become invaluable to you as you research your next hunt. Questions and answers will pop up with more frequency and your curiosity will grow. Your next stop, hopefully will be lost treasure.


1. Prospecting shops
2. Outdoors outfitter stores
3. Bookstores
4. Garage, rummage, & estate sales
5. Western, gun, Indian, mining, trade shows
6. Museum book stores and gift shops
7. Thrift stores
8. Friends of the Library organizations

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