Gary Drayton

Patience, Persistence, and Perseverance

Just what is a “top pocket find” or a “bobby dazzler”? We’ll look into the metal detector expert, and treasure hunter, Gary Drayton, and find out. He was born May 30, 1961, in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England, UK, and spent many years as a bottle digger.

He spent the time digging old Victorian trash pits[1] and “mud hopping” along the river banks in search of old bottles, clay pipes, doll heads, and marbles. Some of the bottles he found dated back to the early 1600s and the clay pipes from the 1500s. His oldest bottle find was a Roman perfume bottle dating from the Roman occupation! It was bottle digging that eventually led to his interest in metal detecting; every year Gary would find more and more coins while digging for bottles. He moved to South Florida, where he still resides, and started metal detecting the beaches.

He was hooked on his first day out as he dug up a Spanish Silver Piece of Eight[2]. Then a few months later he found a 1715 Spanish Fleet Gold[3] and Emerald Ring. Since then has found hundreds of Gold Rings, Jewelry of all types, Coins, Silver, Rolex’s, Bronze Ship Spikes, War Artifacts, and Spanish Treasure! Famous Late Great 1715 Spanish Fleet Salvager Bob Weller[4] complimented Gary for having the 3 P’s – Patience, Persistence, and Perseverance.

Gary Drayton makes a good living doing what he loves. He writes books, gives treasure-hunting lessons, and hunts for more treasure. His Spanish treasure finds even caught the eye of Hollywood producers which led to several appearances on TV shows before finally joining the cast of “The Curse of Oak Island”, the top-rated treasure-hunting show in the US, as the resident metal detecting expert.

Gary utilizes a range of Minelab detectors. His first Minelab metal detector was the Excalibur, a metal detector he still uses today. Searching for Spanish treasure on the beach Gary prefers the awesome, deep detection power of the GPX 5000 and large Commander search coils.

As any long time Minelab user will tell you, the only way to beat a Minelab is by using another Minelab so I always have other specialist tools in the old tool shed

Gary Drayton

Gary’s most memorable find is the magnificent 300-year-old Emerald Treasure Ring worth a cool $500,000, a true find of a lifetime! Crafted from 22-and-a-half carat Inca gold and set with nine glittering emeralds, the ring was being transported to Spain from the New World when the galleon was lost in a hurricane close to the coast of Florida.

As far as Gary is concerned, the ring ranks as his ‘ultimate bobby dazzler’. He has found the mysterious, possible Knight’s Templar lead cross on Oak Island as well as coins, tools, jewelry, ox shoes, fasteners, etc. during his time there. Gary has written 13 books on a range of topics, from a “Beginner’s Guide to Beach Hunting,” a “Hardcore Beach Hunting Guide,” a “Jewelry Hunting” guide,

and a few manuals on how to use the expensive metal detector equipment that is featured on the show. He’s got two daughters — Anya and Katya — and a wife, Jennifer. His social media is full of pictures of him and his daughters, as well as some throwback photos of his father and a touching anniversary photo of his wedding. He’s also an avid dog lover and admits to FaceTiming with his pit bull while traveling for work. 

  1. Dump digging is the practice of locating and excavating old garbage dumps with the intent of discovering objects which have potential value as collectibles or antiques. These dumps are sometimes centuries old but often date to the late 19th century or early part of the 20th century. Among other things, the practice of dump digging is directly linked to antique bottle collecting and glassmaking. It is a form of historical digging which involves long hours working with a shovel, pick, and other hand tools. Finding evidence of potential antique bottle dumps or middens is done by searching areas where it is likely that older garbage was deposited. Diggers generally look for clues of pre-1920s junk piles in the woods or down embankments, places where old houses or businesses stand or once stood. Hiking along waterways and swampy areas, particularly during droughts, can also produce important clues and lead to good discoveries. Additionally, many coastal cities are surrounded by landfills or “tips”, places where enormous quantities of trash were deposited in the past, intended to free up additional acres of viable real estate. It can take many months of searching each of these locations for a decent dig area to be found. [Back]
  2. The Spanish dollar, also known as the piece of eight, is a silver coin of approximately 1.5 inches in diameter worth eight Spanish reales. It was minted in the Spanish Empire following a monetary reform in 1497 with a content of 25.563 g = 0.822 oz. t fine silver. It was widely used as the first international currency because of its uniformity in standard and milling characteristics. Because the Spanish dollar was widely used in Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, it became the first world currency by the late 18th century. [Back]
  3. The 1715 Treasure Fleet was actually a combination of two Spanish treasure fleets returning from the New World to Spain, the “Nueva España Fleet”, under Capt.-General Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla, and the “Tierra Firme Fleet”, under Don Antonio de Echeverz y Zubiza. At two in the morning on Wednesday, July 31, 1715, seven days after departing from Havana, Cuba, all eleven ships of the fleet were lost in a hurricane along the east coast of Florida. A 12th ship, the French frigate “Le Grifon”, had sailed with the fleet. Its captain was unfamiliar with the Florida coastline and elected to stay further out to sea. The “Grifon” safely returned to Europe. [Back]
  4. Bob “Frogfoot” Weller has been salvaging Spanish galleons off the coast of Florida since 1960, locating and salvaging many shipwrecks sites. He became involved in underwater work as a frogman in the Navy during the Korean War, serving in Korea from 1951-54, hence his nickname “Frogfoot”. Artifacts and treasures in his collection have been featured in National Geographic, and he and his diving wife Margaret “Lady Goldiver”, have appeared on numerous television specials including NBC’s “Hunt For Amazing Treasures”. [Back]

Further Reading


History UK
Gary Drayton Treasure Hunting Blog
Gary Drayton

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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