Reflections: A lonely Cedar Key V-Nickel

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By Thomas W. Ivines

This last weekend I took a trip back to another place in time. I metal-detected the beaches of the Cedar Key out Islands hoping to find some coins or perhaps a piece of jewelry or two. Those beaches are popular places for sun worshippers and picnickers. They lose coins and jewelry just like on other beaches.

As usual I found some coins. I even managed to find a little silver earring. The coins like on most beaches were so crusty you could hardly tell what they were. The salt and sand encrusted them with a layer of what looked and felt like sandpaper.

At the end of the day I had roughly forty crusty coins, mostly pennies. Some were eaten away so badly they had to be thrown away. There were also some silver clad coins and those were the ones I threw into my tumbler for cleaning. My gravel tumbler does an excellent job of cleaning crusty coins. Most come out looking brand new

After tumbling the coins over night I gave them a good looking over. They were the usual, mostly modern coins, quarters, dimes, and nickels. But, there was one coin that was different from the others. It was a 1910 V-nickel, obviously dropped over 90 years ago.

When you find a coin as old as that one it makes you wonder about the times and what was going on where it was dropped, especially on an outer Cedar Key Island.

I had heard there were people living on the Islands long ago, but signs of civilization eludes the naked eye. If there were any structures on the Islands they are long gone now, wiped out by hurricanes. About the only Island still showing signs of past civilization, is Atsena Otie. But, that's not the Island where the coin was found.

When you stop and think about it, 1910 was before the First World War and about the time cars for the masses were just becoming popular. You can bet there were not many cars around Cedar Key at that time, especially on an out island.

I can picture someone during that time, probably a rugged individual, having learned to live without many of life's luxuries; at least the kind we are accustomed to. To think what life was like anywhere at that time, let alone Cedar Key.

In 1910 a nickel was a lot of money to lose. My grandfather (now deceased) had mentioned to me around that time a loaf of bread cost two cents. He worked in a sawmill making three cents an hour. So, whoever lost that nickel lost a considerable amount of money.

Now that I know for sure there were people on the Islands at the turn of the Century, it has me wondering. I must look into the history of Cedar Key and the surrounding Islands to see just what was going on at the time. Hopefully the effort will lead me to more treasures like the "V" nickel. I know there are several publications about the history of Cedar Key available. The Cedar Key Beacon used to sell one.