Penn State Student ‘Prospector Tuck’ Discovers Buried Treasure On TikTok
When the world shut down in 2020, Penn State sophomore Tucker Coccodrilli — known to thousands as “Prospector Tuck” rediscovered his childhood love for metal-detecting.
One day, Tucker made a particularly interesting discovery when he uncovered an Italian chain with 14-karat gold charms. He innocuously decided to create a TikTok account, @prospectortuck, in the hopes that a few people might appreciate his find. However, nothing could’ve prepared him for the attention his discovery would receive.
The video received over 700,000 views in just two days, and his views soon rocketed into the millions with each passing find. His account now sits at over 300,000 followers, and Tucker has accordingly expanded to YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
Tucker is from the small town of Blue Bell, located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He first became interested in metal-detecting while growing up on his family’s farm in Wayne County. His grandfather on his mother’s side introduced him to coin collecting, while his other grandfather used a metal detector to find artifacts buried around the farm.
When he returned to the farm to isolate himself during the first few months of the pandemic, he saw an opportunity to pick up his hobby again.
“I got a Minelab Equinox 800 metal detector as a graduation gift,” Tucker said. “I started finding these crazy things, I started filming what I found, and now I’m here.”
With editing skills and a bit of luck, his hobby snowballed into gold rings, valuable coins, and overnight fame. Despite detecting new finds on a regular basis, Tucker’s first viral discovery has always stayed with him.
“I wear the charms around my neck every day,” Tucker said. “They’re my literal good luck charms.”
Tucker specializes in early American and colonial-era artifacts. He recently found a King George II half-penny, which was minted in England between 1729 and 1754. The next coin on his bucket list is a Spanish real from the 18th century, which was used by the United States for its silver.
Tucker once applied to universities with archeology programs but chose Penn State for its challenging energy engineering program and eclectic student life. Since coming to Penn State, though, he has found it much harder to pursue his hobby.
“I have tried almost every park in a 30-minute radius, but there is nothing to find,” Tucker said. “I rely heavily on public land to search, and some townships just don’t let you metal-detect their land. What that basically means is that I need to go home to Blue Bell or Wayne County to be able to metal-detect.”
In order to keep his content fresh, Tucker records informational videos about coins and local history using a green screen in his apartment. Even still, he is constantly on the lookout for new sites to metal-detect. He points out colonial-era houses when he is driving and takes note of stone walls that can indicate fields that have been plowed for hundreds of years and would be good spots to find dropped coins and buttons.
“Little things that I had never noticed [before], I notice now,” Tucker said. “I’m crazy about finding stuff on the ground.”
Tucker’s fame on TikTok has come with the challenge of consistently finding exciting new artifacts for his growing audience. He typically live-streams his searches, which allows him to interact with followers in real-time but sets him apart from most other hobbyists.
“If I go somewhere for eight hours by myself and find two good things, I can just put those two things into a video and it looks like I found great stuff that day,” Tucker said. “But if I’m there in front of hundreds of thousands of people, like on a lot of my streams, it’s that much more pressure.”
Tucker’s favorite find so far was ironically something that he did not keep. After he dug up a gold ring in a public park, Tucker noticed that there were initials on the inside. He got in contact with the adjacent school and was able to get the ring returned to its owner.
“I’m trying to promote positivity with this hobby. I know a lot of people think that metal detectorists are greedy and think that they take what people have lost,” Tucker said. “I’m trying to show people that you can be a good person and return things to people if possible.”
Despite his newfound popularity, Tucker says that his goal is not to create a business. Instead, he hopes to share a hobby he’s passionate about.
“I have never sold a single thing I have found from metal-detecting,” Tucker said. “It’s more about the experience of finding it and how excited I am when I see something that’s 300 years old come out of the ground. That feeling is so special.”
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