top of page

Is Today the Day?

Maybe, maybe not. But that never stopped local treasure hunter, expert metal detectorist, and author Fred Banke.  He prefers to say “strap on your sandals and  hit the beach… adventure awaits!”   Those are the words you’ll find on the back cover of his book The Reale Deal, and Fred has been strapping on his sandals and hitting the local beaches for well over a decade, accumulating hundreds of finds to his collection, and authoring two books on the subject.

While most people associate the “treasure” part of the Treasure Coast with Mel Fisher and the 1715 Spanish Fleet, metal detectorists like Fred Banke remind us that our area is ripe with artifacts that often confirm a more extensive history than the doomed fleet that tends to define the conventional narrative around treasure.

Most recently, Fred found a silver ring that he believes might well be an authentic Knights of Malta artifact. The ring is cast with the Maltese cross, associated with the Knights of Malta. Examples of this cross have been found on many rings, but an important clue was, like anything else, in the context of how it was found.

“I found it among a bunch of bronze spikes. Bronze cannons, spikes, and pins were used before iron was used in the 1600s. Iron became a replacement for bronze due to lower cost in material.”

Ornately jeweled religious crosses shaped like the Maltese Cross have also been found from the 1715 Fleet. But he wonders if this particular ring might be from a much earlier shipwreck. He’s had the tested and it is 99.99% silver. The ring also appears to have been cast with the number 103 which is also a religious symbol denoting new beginnings and opportunities.  The characteristics of this find add more intrigue to the possibilities of its origins, especially for enthusiasts like Fred Banke.

It's an Adventure

You don’t have to be a professional salvor with an expensive offshore enterprise to know the adventure of treasure hunting, especially in this region.  All you need is curiosity, a love for beach combing, and an adventurous spirit.  Naturally, metal detectors are helpful, and Fred gives lots of advice and education about these devices and accompanying equipment in both his books. He also covers a wide range of detecting techniques, best practices, prime locations, and etiquette.

Most importantly, his knowledge of and experience with the kinds of artifacts and other goodies that can be found beneath the warm sands ignite the imagination. Everything from cannons and sword handles to pottery and emeralds, and more can wash up on any of our beaches at any time. So maybe, to quote the most famous treasure hunter of our area and era, “Today’s the Day” but you’ll never know until you strap on those sandals and give it a whirl. Just remember to be kind to the environment, don’t dig around turtle nests, and fill in your holes.


About Fred

Fred Banke is a U.S. Navy veteran, FAA-certified aircraft mechanic, and long-time metal detectorist. A graduate of Colorado Aero Tech, he enjoyed a successful career in composite repair with Flight Safety International and served as a composite consultant to both NASA and the United Space Alliance.  Fred has been detecting on the Treasure Coast for nearly 20 years and has published two books that help treasure hunters become treasure finders!

Find his books, The Reale Deale (parts I and II) at Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum, the McLarty Treasure Museum, and Amazon








bottom of page