Richard Browne, 66, of South Yarmouth, Massachusetts has given more than 100 gold rings to their owners in the past 30 years. It started in 1982 when he bought his first metal detector in Manassas, Virginia where the infamous Civil War’s Battle of Bull Run occurred, and he found a few musket balls. Browne states, “I found a couple musket balls and other junk in a cow pasture behind a house we owned. I came around the side of another house and said, ‘Well, let me try one more time. It worked and there was a little gold ring there.” The ring piqued his interest much more than the war artifacts, and he immediately took it into his house to show his wife. After discussing that further, Browne realized it was his neighbor’s ring who lost it years prior and decided to return it.
From there, his hobby took off and he is now a member of The Ring Finders, a world-wide network of metal detector specialists who help locate and return people’s lost items. His favorite place to hunt is is along the coast of Cape Cod, after it was recommended to him he start searching for hidden treasures in the water. Despite having found hundreds of rings, there is one ring in particular that has the most meaning. A 1911 US Naval Academy class ring. Browne States, “After spending 20 years in the navy I said, ‘I can return this.’ But that was in 1994. When you stop to think he was probably 24 when he graduated in 1911, so he’s 80-plus years old, I went back to the Navy and found out he passed away in 1965. It’s just a beautiful ring and I wear it in honor of him every once in a while.” Browne says that his wife is patient when it comes to his passion for metal detecting. How long will he continue his treasure hunting? Browne argues, “There’s one chap in the Yankee Territory Coinshooters, and I believe he’s 87. We took him to Puerto Rico five years ago. Even at age 82, he was down there having a great time.”