Axel Macon with his Minelab detectors.

Historical Treasures, Vintage Bottles, and Shark Teeth

Charleston, South Carolina gives up a Smithsonian artifact and other pieces of time.

Chicago, IL (March 28, 2024) – Little did Axel Macon know when his detector signaled a target, it would turn out to be his favorite find of all time and end up on display in the Smithsonian Institution.

Axel came from an area of rich history in North Carolina called Carolina Beach. It’s the home of Fort Fisher and close to Wilmington, which was one of the last ports to fall in the south during the Civil War.

Axel eventually settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where his passion for metal detecting began. Being a history buff, Axel became interested in Colonial history and started searching for items that related to the history of these times. He said, “I found myself doing tons of research, reading lots of historical diaries, and going out and inspecting everything I could.”

Freeman badge found by Axel. Currently on display in the Smithsonian.

His first detector belonged to his grandfather. When he moved to Charleston, he snatched a $50 pawn shop find and eventually moved up to a Minelab EQUINOX 800. This machine was a better fit because of the salt and blue clay in the area. There is a large amount of mineralization in the soil and the EQUINOX handled that problem easily. While the 800 is his go-to machine, Axel also owns a Minelab EQUINOX 900 and CTX 3030.

When asked what types of areas he usually detects, he responded, “I mostly hunt riverbanks, shorelines, and deep woods with ruins of plantations lost in time.”

A display case of assorted buckles Axel has found detecting.

His reply when questioned if Axel ever attended seeded hunts was, “I have only attended seeded hunts when working with Minelab.” While most folks detect with friends or family, Axel says he usually hunts with a couple friends and his two great Danes, Duke and Moose. He didn’t share if he had taught them to dig his targets yet or not.

As a Minelab Detexpert, helping newcomers to the hobby is important to Axel. He shared some beginner tips and tricks for this story: “I think the biggest tip I can share is to hunt in all metal mode. I tend to run all metal and use volume discrimination. I simply turn down the volume on the signals that I do not want to hear as much, that way I’ll still hear them and can dig them if I would like. Since Charleston has Colonial roots, we tend to dig everything, even the nails. There’s no telling what will come out of the ground at any VDI number, and I try to express that in my videos on YouTube.”

A solid shot cannonball brought to light by Axel with his detector. The arrow on top identifies it as a British Revolutionary War relic.

While most detectorists have their own technique for gaining permission to detect on private property, Axel shared his ideas on how he finds the owner of a property and where to locate that person. “I typically look up the owner’s name and info on X Hunt, Huntwise, GIS, or Door Knock. I’ll also email and send letters for multi-owner parcels.”

Being from an area that has hundreds of years of history, Axel has found a wide variety of treasures in his relatively short time detecting. When asked to mention what some of his favorite finds included, he answered, “Some of my favorite finds are the custom fabricated items, such as field cast buttons, homemade copper nails, and custom tools. I find a lot of iron tools, military buttons, and revolutionary war items like gun pieces. 1600’s-1800’s buckles are my favorite to find, but I think my absolute favorite find is currently at the Smithsonian on display. It is the Freeman Fire Badge and the first proof of an all African-American fire company in the history of the United States, dated 1861. This group of Freemen volunteered for their part of town deemed the Freeman village and were operational pre-emancipation.”

Some of the many tools, horseshoes and other relics found by Axel with his Minelab detectors.

Besides finding all kinds of relics and artifacts with his Minelab detectors, Axel searches bottle dumps and uncovers many rare and valuable bottles, which were discarded as trash many decades ago. His collection also includes some large shark’s teeth. He usually finds these under fallen trees while detecting creek banks and root balls.

Some years ago, Axel met Debbie Smikoski, Business Development Director at Minelab, at an American Digger relic show in Charleston. He took Debbie and some of her friends to one of his permissions on Wadmala Island, where they all found a wide variety of relics. Axel now spends much of his time teaching people about detectors and how to use them.

Axel has numerous videos on YouTube and other social media sites. Go to YouTube and search Lowcountry relic recovery. It will also bring up Axel’s sites on Instagram, TikTok, and more.

Display showing shark teeth and other items found while searching creeks and shorelines.

A display case with a wide assortment of relics found in South Carolina.

Story by Rich Creason




Minelab is an Australian, multi-award-winning business that has successfully scaled world markets to command global leadership in its key areas of operation. Based in Mawson Lakes, South Australia, with regional offices in Cork, Ireland; Dubai, UAE; Monterrey, Mexico; Itajai, Brazil; and Chicago, U.S.A., the company specializes in advanced electronic technologies. Since its origins in 1985, Minelab has been the world leader in providing metal-detecting technologies for gold prospecting, treasure hunting and landmine clearance. Through devotion to research and development and innovative design, Minelab is today the major world manufacturer of handheld metal detector products. Over the past 30 years, Minelab has introduced more innovative and practical technology than any of its competitors and has taken the metal detecting industry to new levels of excellence. Minelab is a Codan Limited company (ASX: “CDA”). To learn more about Minelab, visit


Noel Vick

Traditions Media