A love of the outdoors, a soft spot for nostalgia, and an adventurous spirit kindled a passion for sea glass in this month’s beachcombing collector. Mix that with a couple decades worth of determination and some luck thrown in and that was enough to land Matthew Umbro the kind of beach that collectors’ dreams are made of.
Matthew’s love of beachcombing began during childhood when his father would take him “treasure hunting” on local beaches outside of New York City. There was certainly no shortage of relics from times past that washed up on the beaches he combed. His eyes would often focus on the horizon wondering what lay on those beaches just out of reach.
There were two memorable moments that changed things forever. One day while combing for sea glass on Long Island Sound, Matthew said aloud to a friend “I wish I’d find a marble!” Believe it or not, a few minutes later he found his first marble!
The other one happened while he was in the same area walking along a seawall after a massive storm. “I found a completely intact frosted bottle from a brewery in New York City,” he says. “I never thought these beaches contained such treasures and now that I knew, there was no going back!”
Fast forward a couple years to when Matthew found his treasured spot, and now a typical day at the beach brings home a handful of perfect marbles, stoppers, bottle tops, and bottoms—just about everything a collector could hope to find. His collection has now grown to over 150 marbles and stoppers each, dozens of whole bottles, countless bonfire chunks, cobalt blues, and glassware and art glass, and so on.
“It’s been great to make friends with other beachcombing enthusiasts,” says Matthew. “I love seeing finds from around the world and how beachcombing connects all of us.”
When not collecting sea glass Matthew can probably be found climbing a mountain or in his kayak racking up miles. That childhood propensity to gaze out to the horizon and wonder what lies beyond is something that he has never outgrown and has been the drive for countless adventures that have provided a lifetime of cherished memories.
Matthew helps manage an environmental group called the Hutchison River Restoration Project that is dedicated to the cleanup of a local river. The group has a solar powered boat that is used to monitor the river and is also great for some good old fashioned exploring. You never know what’s around the next turn!
Matthew has checked off most of the items that many beachcombers have on their bucket list, but he’d still love to find a sea glass dragon egg from the UK and some art glass sea glass. Some day, Matthew would love to travel somewhere tropical to beachcomb, and then to the UK and the Mediterranean. Until then, he will continue plying the waters of the Hutchison River, the Long Island Sound, and the Hudson River, treasure hunting like he has been since he was a young boy.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine March/April 2019 issue