By Aaron Retherford
Have you lost a valuable ring or maybe an irreplaceable heirloom? Well, if you’re in Vermont, you’re in luck.
Armed with his trusty metal detectors, Mike Baker is central Vermont’s resident “treasure” hunter.
Based out of Barre, Baker prefers to conduct searches within a 75-mile radius, but he is willing to travel all over Vermont just to reconnect someone with a lost valuable.
“The rings that I did find, it’s just amazing the emotions that people have when they see it. They had pretty much given up,” Baker said.
Baker, who works for Clark Builders, has been metal detecting as an evening and weekend hobby for about four years now.
He got into it because his girlfriend’s grandmother discovered metal parts sticking out of the ground on her property. After digging some of the items out of the ground, Baker suggested renting a metal detector. The rental didn’t work very well, so he bought an expensive model and started finding many more items. That motivated him to get a better metal detector.
His hobby took off from there. Baker decided to join The Ring Finders, a directory of metal detecting specialists with members from all over the world. The philosophy of the organization is to reunite people with lost jewelry. They will accept rewards, but it isn’t necessary.
“Everybody in the group just likes doing it so much,” Baker said. “It’s kind of like an obsession for all of us. It’s really addictive. It gives us something more useful to do with it instead of just looking for things for ourselves.”
Baker said he has helped a half dozen people find lost items, including two rings this past winter. Oddly enough, both were men’s platinum wedding bands in Killington.
One of Baker’s most interesting finds has been an old class ring that had a name inscribed on it. It took some detective work to track down the owner because it had the woman’s maiden name on it. However, Baker said his most interesting find has been a piece off an old horse and buggy. He has found other old items that Bob Somaini from East Barre Antique Mall has helped identify.
With the improved weather, Baker hopes Vermonters will seek out his help. His girlfriend’s 14-year-old granddaughter is also looking forward to “ring missions”. She hasn’t found any gold rings yet, but Baker knows she will be excited when she does. Plus, he’d give her any reward.
“I just want to emphasize to people, don’t give up. Because even if they lost something a long time ago, there’s a good chance we can still find it, and it’s in good condition.” Baker said.