Walt Bannon with his Hookah dive system, which he uses while diving for treasure. Contributed / Walt Bannon

Freeport resident Walt Bannon has been collecting antique glass, coins, tools and other old treasure from land and sea for years.

He was first introduced to collecting at age 14 when he met a gentleman who collected glassware, but Bannon didn’t quite get it.

“I had no idea why he was motivated and inspired by all this glass that was all over his shelves,” he said.

It wasn’t until years later, when Bannon came across a few rare glass bottles himself, that he got it.

“Ten years ago in Bridgton, I found an old antique bottle, and then this bug hits you and you just jump in,” he said.

A few of the glass bottles Walt Bannon has collected. Contributed / Walt Bannon

He loved the searching and the thrill of finding something worth showcasing. “I was digging every single day,” first in the woods, and then after he became certified as a diver, in the ocean.


Diving “opened up a whole new world of finding treasures,” he said. Seafarers often tossed glass porter bottles off ships into the harbor, he said, and those bottles are some of his favorite finds. He especially looks for handblown glass, particularly from the 1800s and earlier; bottles from the 1900s and later are usually machine-made.

Eventually, Bannon said, he’d collected so much old glass that he decided to open a museum to showcase it all. At his Maine Antique Glass Museum in Naples he met other collectors, became connected with glass digging and coin collecting groups and continued to add to his shelves.

After a few years he began to miss digging and diving, and he sold the museum to spend more time on the hunt, he said.

When he moved to Freeport a little over a year ago, he started using a metal detector as a way to search for artifacts, which he refers to as “ground fishing.”

“I’ve learned the art of the trade,” he said. “So now I’ve got three potential ways to find treasures.”

The collection of antique coins Walt Bannon found in a mud patch. Contributed / Walt Bannon

One find he is particularly proud of happened last year when he discovered a cluster of coins in a mud bog, the oldest from 1792. He has framed that collection and plans to bring it to a signing event for his self-published book, “Digger, Diver, Dreamer,” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 28 at the M.A. Storck Co. coin and collectibles shop in Freeport. The book describes Bannon’s journey to and through the world of treasure hunting, and how he came to see himself as a “modern-day pirate.” 


Sullivan Day, owner of M.A. Storck, said he’s always loved treasure hunting and the “thrill of the find,” so he’s excited to showcase Bannon’s work at the upcoming event.

Day’s favorite items are early American coins and unique Maine artifacts, but his shop accepts collectibles of all kinds.

“I do antiques, gold and silver, stamps, crystals and any kind of old collectibles,” Day said.

He said people are often surprised by the valuable items they can uncover once they really start digging, and hopes that younger generations will “carry on the tradition” of hunting and collecting.

Bannon hopes his book will “motivate and inspire” more people, especially young people, to get into searching and collecting, to get outside and discover the world and its treasures, he said.

This book is a follow-up to his first, “Digger Down,” in which he tells the stories of his “misadventures” in treasure hunting.

New treasure hunters can start with something as simple as walking the beach and scanning for sea glass, he said.

He hopes to see new and old faces and talk about his work at the Oct. 28 event.

“I’ll take the folks that are there down to the depths with me to the bottom of the river.”

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