Many of us have watched from a distance, as we followed the trials and tribulations of treasure hunters Marty and Rick Lagina in the hugely popular History Channel program The Curse of Oak Island.
While some enthusiasts of the show may not know it, they can own and run their fingers through excavated material in the treasure hunt that is famously chronicled on television screens around the world.
The Oak Island Shares the Dream online auction is back for a second year, running September 30th to October 3rd.
Last year, the fundraiser proved highly popular with bidders around the globe. The event raised $19,000 for the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore and the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society.
"It's something around here that people feel they're a part of. That we have this right in our own backyard, this international sensation.... It's a great story for the South Shore," Alison Clements, Development Officer for the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore, enthused to LighthouseNOW.
The idea to use core samples from the digging that has taken place on the island off Western Shore in an auction to support local charities is the brainchild of Terry Matheson, a geologist with the program.
"While shooting The Curse of Oak Island, Season 5 we stored a large number of Money Pit soil and shaft samples from our treasure hunt that year," Matheson said in a media release. "As I was actually dumping our carefully documented samples onto the ground it occurred to me that people who really care about the program, and the search, might be interested in these products of 'the hunt', and might want to purchase this small part of the dream. It would be a unique fundraiser, and 'Oak Island Shares the Dream' was born"," Matheson explained.
Clements admitted she didn't know what to think when Matheson first approached the foundation with his plan.
She understood that he "wanted to give back to the community that the show runs in on the South Shore. But he also has ties through his family to the Colchester, East Hants Hospice Society."
However, she recalled commenting to her husband, "He wants me to auction dirt.
"So it was a very unique concept," Clements told LighthouseNOW.
As time went on, the auction got onto firmer ground because of the show's popularity.
"People love this hunt. The tours are sold out every summer," said Clements.
The core samples are identified. For example, they may be from a drilling area of 125 feet to 135 feet. The idea is that avid followers might recognize where an item, such as, say, chapel wood, might have been found and want to retain a part of that particular drilling.
Bidders can also have a go at items donated personally by hunt leader Rick Lagina.
"On top of being a treasure hunter, he also likes to craft things in his spare time. So he takes each rock that he finds that he thinks interesting on Oak Island, and he polishes them up and he makes necklaces," explained Clements.
Last year, 10 necklaces with a stone pendent polished by Lagina were made available for $100 each, "and they sold out within the first 15 minutes," said Clements. "This year, he's been generous enough to donate 30."
New to the auction block this year will be a collection of Oak Island year books, featuring professional, behind-the-scenes photographs of the show, as well as on-air scenes.
"Only cast and crew members get these books. It's not like you can purchase this through the History Channel, or anything like that. So that's what makes them so unique," suggested Clements.
Last year, bidders were online from as far away as Germany and Arkansas, in the U.S.
"This show reaches so far, that there's people all around the world bidding in the auction, and we're anticipating the same thing for this year as well," said Clements.
The Foundation's $8,000 share of last year's auction was channelled through its annual Radiothon and contributed toward the purchase of hospital ceiling lifts.
The Oak Island Shares The Dream: Take 2 auction goes live at 8 a.m. Atlantic Time on September 30 and will run through to 9 p.m. October 3.
The Oak Island samples from the 2017 and 2018 digs are all signed by Rick and Marty Lagina, Craig Tester and Dave Blankenship. All of the proceeds will be split between the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore and the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society.
The auction website can be found at www.32auctions.com/oakisland2
On October 3, from 7:00 p.m until 9:00 p.m., enthusiasts can also catch Matheson and historian Charles Barkhouse on a Facebook live stream by visiting https://www.facebook.com/OakIslandBook