Tom Grove Jr. shows and talks about the probe rod he uses during privy excavations. Grove digs under old outhouses to find unusual or rare bottles. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Jason Plotkin)

Many collectible enthusiasts search high and low for the items they treasure most, whether it's coins, jewelry, dolls or other antiques. Old bottle enthusiast Thomas Grove Jr. mostly searches low -- preferably below old privy sites.

"Many young people don't know what a privy is," said Grove, of Dover. "It's another name for an outhouse."

Grove has been digging at privy sites for eight years, always hoping to find something rare.

"I don't do this for any kind of profit," Grove said. "I've been digging for bottles since I was 8 years old. It's an interesting hobby."

Grove took some time to describe a few of his digs Monday night at the West Manchester Township building.

"It doesn't take long to find out which properties had a privy," Grove said. "There are actually a lot of privy diggers out there. It's a huge, growing hobby."

Grove goes on digs when he has free time between his family life and career as a sales engineer.

During his presentation, Grove shared information from his digs in Pennsylvania, specifically in Columbia, Dover and Danville.

"There was one area that we thought was a privy area, but it turned out to be a well," Grove said. "We don't usually dig too deep, but we dug through this well which turned out to be 22 feet. ... And what did we find at the end of the well? A lot of rocks."

Grove has found many bottles dating to the 1850s -- his favorite being old medicine bottles. Often, the bottles make Grove think.

"When I was digging in the well, I found a bunch of bottles that held pain medicine," Grove said. "I wondered why someone would have so many bottles of it. Shortly after, I found a human molar with a giant cavity in it. That answered my question."

Grove has more than 1,000 bottles collected, but one of his favorites is a rare beer bottle from the 1870s.

"It's a pony beer," Grove said. "They made the beer in York for about two years."

Even though Grove doesn't collect his bottles for profit, he said there can be big money in the field.

"The world record for a flask sale was more than $101,000," Grove said. "I know of a guy whose whole career is in bottles. I don't know how he does it. He probably isn't married or have kids."

Grove's wife, Cheryl, thinks her husband is slightly more than a bottle enthusiast.

"He's obsessed," Cheryl said. "I like some of his bottles, but I'm not into it as much as he is. I have my China packed in boxes so he can display his bottles."

Grove sees no end to his interest in bottle collecting.

"It is said that bottle digging is the last thing out there that has the same draw as digging for gold," Grove said. "All I want is to do a good job with my digs and get the word out."