Recycling Mistake

by forrest fenn

These vignettes from Forrest’s collection are only to share. To see 294 additional pieces  please visit


The 40mm anti-aircraft autocannon has been a popular weapon in many of the wars since 1930, when it was invented by the Swedes. It was certainly used in the Vietnam War, and in great numbers. Here is what the brass MK2 shell casing looked like after its explosive projectile was fired from the 40mm cannon.

Bottom of casing

An enterprising Vietnamese merchant in the little hamlet of Tuy Hoa acquired some of these brass casings and started turning them into lamps, vases, beer mugs, and other oddments.

Finished vase is nine inches tall

He employed three or four workers who reshaped and polished the canisters. There was a ready market in American GIs who wanted a souvenir to take home. The Viet Cong soldiers were not happy with their countrymen fraternizing with the “Yankee Imperialists,” so they raided the store, killed everyone inside, and confiscated the inventory, which they sold individually on the black market.

This vase, given to me by my crew chief, now resides behind some books where I don’t have to look at it unless I want to, and that’s not very often. It’s not on my list of most favored objects. f


101 thoughts on “Recycling Mistake

    • I agree Jake, my hope and my reality is Good Will prevail!!
      Too hell with Evil, and evil men and women who have no soul!
      God have mercy and may his light continue to shine in the darkness of War’s!
      Like Mr. Fenn said people need to leave other folks alone!

      • Yup Martha,
        Life is such a mystery.
        Without good there would be no bad.
        Light – dark
        Positive – negative

        I guess we need opposites to balance out everything in the universe we are in.
        How else could we compare?

        I would just put some deadly flowers in the vase, so it doesn’t think I was trying to trick it’s original purpose.

      • Yes sir Jake, you definitely can’t mistake a swine all they do is whine! There kind will never shine because of there design!

  1. Thank you for the story Forrest. There seems to be no shortage of creative people or ideas in the world. I can only imagine what other things are hidden on your shelves. One thing I like about your posts is they always make me stop and think. I just now read about brass and how it has some similar properties to bronze. I consider it a good day when I’ve learned something new and that makes every day you post something a good day. Thank you Dal for your site and keeping us all informed. The snow is melting slowly but surely. I’m patiently waiting for the season to start. Blessings to all in the chase!

    • Michael, I agree with you.
      That vase given to Mr. Fenn from his crew chief is beautiful!
      I also understand why he hides it from view!
      I personally dislike Communist, but hate is a word that better disscribes my feeling towards that system! I know that’s strong language, but so be it!
      Better Dead than Red!
      Have you considered how China has just been sitting back, besides building that island in the Pacific to control shipping lanes, and how the united States has bacially built there own enemy.
      When you look at all the plastic garbage China sells too America, it’s discussing and we don’t even want to mention the real estate they own in the United State’s!
      Because of all the trade, Trump asked China our enemy for help??? Consider this what if China pull’s a TROJAN HORSE
      On the United State’s?
      Never in the little history I know has the United State’s asked for help from the enemy!
      To think that China has 300,000 troops in place is just so unimaginable too me!
      Too deal with North Korea, unreal!

  2. Tuy hoy = 3 horns

    MK RV = must be hidden in Mike Kammerers R.V. with a rack of caribou horns mounted on the bumper sitting on lot 20 or 27. HA!

  3. Forrest was shot down twice. I wonder if this is the type of thing that brought him down. If it was me, I would want to hide it behind a couple books also.

  4. That vase is really something else. Thanks for sharing that Forrest and Dal.

    “And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:4)

    • Just for the record.

      Joel 3:9-10 9 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: 10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

  5. Thanks for the post Forrest. I guess that the moral of the story is to not take unneeded risks. The artisan may have been able to feed his family for a few months, but to what end – he lost his life, and the life of his workers – HOW SAD!!! JDA

  6. Mr. Fenn,
    I completely understand why you seldom veiw the vase, I do have a small collection of vases, perhaps because I love flowers.
    It break’s my heart what the Vietcong? Did to that man and his family!
    I really have a serious problem with the tyrants that control area’s of this earth, but I have faith that one day, one glorious day justice will prevail! I look forward to that day and all humans that have exist from the beginning, will behold the greatest, glorious, judgement of all time!
    Thank you Mr. Fenn, for the reality check that few people never think about!
    Dal, thank you also.
    With complete sincerity, Martha

  7. Many people were tricked into taking dangerous jobs during the war. Sad stories. They were under pressure to make money for the family.

  8. This vignette reminds me of a video I recently saw of Kenyans making cooking stoves out of old metal barrels using only hand tools. It’s kind of a fascinating activity to watch:–Es

    I imagine the Vietnamese who made these vases operating in a similar fashion. Although it is sad that the Viet Cong ultimately turned the story of this vase into a tragedy, it makes me happy thinking of the Vietnamese laboring on their works of art with similar joy and industry as these Kenyans.

  9. Hmm, reminds me of the artillery casing I found on folly beach SC. with a metal detector last summer, I too find no reason to remember them very often and probably why I left them there that day. The wife was frolicking with a pod of dolphins than would swim up on the beach that evening and I found filming her was the most valuable treasure on that beach at the time.

  10. My wife and I were just in Vietnam last month me were less than impressed. Pollution is awful, their scooters make Italy look like the Mickey Mouse Show, and they don’t seem to care about tourists much, the local citizens that is, EXCEPT if you want to buy something from them. Communist too.

    Won’t be going back.

    • Funny those are some of the same complaints that western Europeans have when they come to America on vacations. Go figure…

  11. The vase did good today by opening the minds, hearts, and imaginations of all who read this post. Now let me know if you need help putting it behind those books again.

    Thanks, Forrest, for all you have seen and are showing us, at a personal toll I am sure.

  12. I keep picturing that ugly thing stored in a vault whose door in concealed by a bookcase. Probably watched too much Webster as a kid. Lol.

    • Jonesy…you may enjoy this. We had a bar in Durango called the Bookcase. You walked into what looked like an old school Barbershop and gave the secret password to the keeper of the gate (password was always changing but could be found on their FB page). The gatekeeper then swung open a very large door that was disguised as a floor to ceiling bookshelf. The drink menu was based on the favorite drinks of various famous authors. Each author had a mini-biography page in the menu. I always had the Hemingway, sometimes the Capote. Sadly, they went out of business. It was a blast while it lasted.

  13. Purely consequential…just as Forrest/Dal posted this thread I was enjoying a much needed pedicure at a Vietnamese nail salon in Texas. Feet needed attention after a beautiful hike through Bandolier.

    Regarding the Vietnamese American citizens I call my friends. Several ladies that do my nails were relocated to the US through a program which relocated children born out of wedlock who are offspring of American servicemen. In Vietnam these people are unfortunately considered 1/2 Vietnamese; illegitimate; and below the lowest class. My friend Vivian speaks with embarrassment and pain about being kicked out of her family and physically bullied at school – to the point her only escape was starting a new life completely alone – in the United States.

    War leaves wounds that slice deeply into the souls of vets & their families, Vietnamese families, and marginalized children of weekend love affairs.
    I cannot imagine their pain.

  14. I’m sure this vase is a very sad reminder of innocent lives lost simply because they were trying to make a living, but it’s also a reminder that the merchant & his employees lived & were trying to make the best of the circumstances they were in. I think, even though sad, it honors their memory to have kept it. And now, we remember too.

  15. Hi f and Dal . Again thanks for the post.

    It is funny how we can change things as humans. Where something used in a violent way as these were, and then recreated into something beautiful . In my mind shows the true spirit of a man mind. Shame they lost their lives for those things.
    May God bless those men , and forgive the ones who took those beautiful folks form us. One big pot to mix up all the things we find ugly , and make works of art. Thank you for teaching us , and personally me so much .

  16. Recycle => reclaim, recover, regain, retrieve

    Mistake => hiccup => a minor problem that was corrected and doesn’t affect the final result/outcome

    Cannon => Canon 40 mm trail cam with auto detect sensors

  17. What I get from this story is a guy riding a horse. Another fishing. And yet another with a pan doing dishes or maybe gold panning.

  18. Reminds me of the flag makers in SB 96. The Viet Cong were the Nazi’s of SE Asia.
    I would display that vase proudly in the memory of all of the innocent people lost in that war that have no memorials or special holidays to honor them.

  19. I have reason to believe that f forged a fake treasure chest, a forgery, which currently resides in the vicinity of the real thing. Does anyone else share that belief? The hints of a fake come from the book and the poem. His exact motivation here is still a mystery to me. My opinion.

    Caution, this post might ignite chicken wielding searchers to dance in a frenzy.

    From => Form => Forge

      • Tried responding two other times, but didn’t come up. I do not believe Mr. Fenn made a counterfeit. We’re looking for the chest shown in the book.

    • Hi Iceman. I do not share your belief, though I was planning to crack open the lid of the chest and take a quick look inside before leaving the hidey spot, so just doing that should take care of any concerns about the possibility of there being a second decoy chest in the area.

    • Iceman;
      A little over a year ago, I saw a YouTube of a person making a bronze chest that was identical to the one we are searching for.

      The link to the YouTube is:

      Who commissioned the “Fake” Indulgence, and when, is anyone’s guess, but the reality is that there ARE two out there somewhere.

      Possibly Forrest commissioned the “Fake” BEFORE he hid the real one to test how safe his chosen “Hidey spot” was. Could it go undetected for – who knows – a couple of years?

      Once the true “Indulgence” is found, it will be interesting to learn if, in-dact, Forrest commissioned the “fake” one.


      • … or did f forge it himself. He certainly knows how to do it. Is this another one of his talents that is discovered 100 years from now by some unsuspecting fly fisherman? Who knows?

        • Did you look at the YouTube I linked you to? IF you did, you will have see that the artisan poured the molds himself – NOT Forrest! If you had watched the video you would not have made your above statement. If you know anything about bronze casting, you know that unless the molds are destroyed, any number of casts can be poured. Whoever commissioned the work “owns” the molds, usually under a contract. JDA

      • Great find JDA! Very interesting to watch the lost wax process and all the steps required, some very dangerous, to turn it into a final work of beautiful art. I don’t recall him saying how many hours were needed to complete it, but I would think easily 300 or more.

        I have to ask a question though. The oldest review is from 3 years ago, but do we know when this chest was actually made? Is it possible this IS the chest.

        And what gives with all the ladders? I know they were there, but not so many. Could this video be the ultimate hint though several years old?


        • You ask, ” Is it possible this IS the chest.”

          Forrest clearly states that Indulgence is a 12th century Romanesque chest that he paid “too much for” – about $25.000.00. YouTube says that this video was “published” April 2014. The video COULD have been made at ANY time, the publishing date means NOTHING!

          If not Forrest, who would pay an artisan BIG bucks to get a reproduction? IF Max (The artisan shown in the video) did not make the original clay molds, from which the silicone molds (shown in step one) were made – who pains-takingly reproduced the drawings into clay? Or the BIG question is – Were clay models needed?

          Usually, – If the original is available – the latex or silicone molds are poured over the original, eliminating the clay step. This would have meant that Forrest took “Indulgence” to Max, and said, I want a duplicate of this made. Max would have poured silicone or latex molds from the original, and then the video would have started where it did.

          It is possibly that Max showed the pictures of the chest to mislead us into thinking that Max did NOT have access to the original – Just “supposin'” – JDA

      • WOW, JDA! Thanks for sharing this! I am totally weirded out and now I am not sure WHAT to think about this and Iceman’s original notion posted above.

        There was a person named Frank Rizzo who posted some comments on the YouTube page claiming to have found the treasure chest already at Gibbon Falls, WY and sold everything off for $1.2 million. I like to think that he was just a troll. I took a quick look at the area and don’t see how that location falls in line with the poem.

        This is quite a bizarre twist indeed!

      • When I first saw this video over a year ago, I observed something of note, that Ihave kept to myself – until now, as I don’t think it is that big of a secret. You will notice that all the pictures of the chest that were shown in this video only show the top, the front side and the right side as you look at the chest. FWIW, I have never seen the back, left or bottom of the chest in any pictures, anywhere. I do not think that is a coincidence. Any forgery will be lacking the detail needed to authenticate it with anyone in the know. So, I’m guessing that the video has two sides that are nearly identical and the other two are as well. It is my supposition that the original and true Indulgence has 4 different sides. This is all my opinion, as I have yet to hold Indulgence in my hands. 🙂

        • Since he molded ONLY the top and two sides, I agree, he only had pictures to work from, showing ONLY the top, front and right side, OR in the original, front and back ARE the same, as are the right and left sides the same. If this is true, only the three molds (Top, R and L) would be necessary to mold. Why make two molds or R and L, IF they are identical? Extra time, work and energy expended for no good reason. JDA

      • That video has been around for a couple of years now. When I spoke with Forrest about it he told me he did not commission it and thought it was a very poor copy not worthy of being called an imitation and certainly shouldn’t fool anyone if that was what it was intended for.

        • Dal, thank you for clearing that up. Perhaps there is a wealthy practical joker out there waiting for someone to fall into a trap.

        • Thanks, dal!

          I was blown away that someone would go through such lengths and expense to create a copy for whatever reason. I’m glad that you were able to talk to the main man about it and get his confirmation that he didn’t have anything to do with it. But wow, did Forrest ever anticipate that someone would ever go to such lengths as that? I certainly would be surprised if I was him! Creating a manipulated photo-image is one thing, but a bronze-cast forgery? That is absolutely wild!

          But from what I’ve gathered, a father commissioned this as a gag for his kids, who were heavy into the Chase. So it sounds like someone was doing a lavish gesture to have fun with his kids and decided to freak out the general internet on the side for fun. So I guess it’s all in good fun (at a great expense)!

    • Conspiracy theorist at best… But what difference would it make if anyone made replica? I mean, you know you were 3′ from the chest, right iceman?
      Not my words… yours.
      I wonder if these fake chest{s} have been engraved with CE5 on the latch…

      Geezus, next thing you’ll know is, a searcher will claim to have pics and sent them to fenn, and fenn is just waiting for that searcher to retrieve the chest in two years time… Oh wait… that has been claimed as well.
      I need to buy a new pair of boots, it’s getting deep here.

      • Seeker;

        When I responded to Iceman, my intention certainly was NOT to be part of a conspiracy. There is only ONE original Indulgence, and she is still out there. TRUE, at some point in time, a replica WAS made. Who made it?
        When and why was it made?

        I have NO guess. As you said Seeker, “What difference would it make? As far as I know – NONE! Just my opinion – JDA

  20. Old news…new players. Research is your friend. That is one of the reasons Dal tries to run a tight ship…keeps the rumors and I found its at bay.

    • Ken, this video was news to me (because I’m fairly new to the Chase) and I don’t think I would have ever thought of looking up such a story unless someone specifically mentioned it like JDA did just now.

      Can you share where this video was originally discussed on Dal’s site? Because I’m not coming up with anything searching via Google.

      • Hello Blex. It seems to me I have seen a discussion or two in regards to the video. I’m trying to remember when I saw it. You may want to try the latter part of 2014 to sometime in 2015 in Odds ‘n Ends, but again, I’m not positive. There may be others that will know exactly where to locate it.

      • (Second try.) I’m not positive, but you may want to try Odds n’ Ends in the latter part of 2014 to sometime in 2015. I believe that was the first time I saw it mentioned

        • Thanks pdenver, but I looked and could not find anything about this in the Odds n’ Ends archives during this time period, but I’m sure it’s there somewhere under another category perhaps. Man, there’s a lot of stuff buried around on dal’s site!

          • You’re welcome, Blex. I concur, there are many interesting discussions shared by searchers.

      • For what it’s worth, Blex, I learned of this video many months ago from HMA. Don’t know if he found it himself, or learned of it from here or one of the other blogs. I’ll ask him…

          • Thanks, Zaphod. I checked out the link you pasted, but still couldn’t find where JDA had posted the YouTube link. But it doesn’t matter; I guess I went back and found enough information on this to satisfy me. I’m still surprised that someone went to such lengths to create a copy like that! Craziness!

            By the way, were you searching up in Montana recently? Lugnutz seemed to think you were, and I was curious to know if he was correct.

          • Hi Blex: JDA definitely posted that link last year but I admit I didn’t try it out, but I assume you read the context and know it was the same video.

            As for my treasure-searching activities I do not telegraph them (no pun intended). 🙂

  21. Blex…I did not say or imply discussion on Dal’s site. This video has been out there in cyber space for quite some time. Personally…I like to stay abreast here @ Dal’s, but there is a lot of other stuff available. It was shared at one time who this chest was made for and why.

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