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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 32, August 6, 2006, Article 9

ON BRITTLE, POROUS GOLD

Dick Johnson writes: "I blew it - I gave an incorrect answer to Dick
Hanscomb two weeks back in The E-Sylum (vol 9, no 29, article 23).
Dick was having trouble rolling gold. I (mistakenly) thought this could
be solved like other coinage metals (silver, copper, bronze) with heat
treating and I wrote a couple paragraphs about the lack of collector
knowledge of this important coinage technology (this part was true).

I admitted up front in my remarks that working with gold was not my
strong suit. When I worked for a medal company and we had orders to
make gold medals we purchased the gold blanks from suppliers (who knew
our needs and were sure to supply the most suitable gold for fabrication).
We were not using native gold like Dick Hanscomb was working with.

The advantage of putting an item in E-Sylum is the immediate feedback.
In addition to an apology to E-Sylum readers, I would like to thank Ken
Douglas and Peter Gaspar for their insightful (and correct) responses
in regards to the purity of the gold (in last week's E-Sylum). It was
the impurities in the gold not the hardness that was causing Dick
Hanscomb's problems.

Truth will always come out in E-Sylum! After all, there are almost a
thousand of the most knowledgeable critics in the world reading these
words. Someone is bound to spot the most innocuous error."

[It's interesting to note that the two respondents (Peter Gaspar and
Ken Douglas) were the first and the most recent subscribers to The
E-Sylum, respectively.  This only goes to further Dick's point about
the collective knowledge of The E-Sylum's readership. It's what I'd
hoped to unlock with the power of the Internet, and it's proved true
again and again.  The real power of this forum is not the newsletter
itself, it's the readership.  -Editor]

Dick Hanscom of Fairbanks, Alaska writes: "I'm happy to report that
I have made the gold from the Forty Mile usable (I had gold from Nome
and Forty Mile that turned brittle and porous).  A friend provided a
flux consisting of silica, borax, sodium nitrate and sodium bicarbonate.
It took two melts and pours (melting the gold and pouring it into an
ingot mold) to cure the problem.  After the first pour, there was some
coppery looking material at the top (sort of a tail going down into
the mold). After removing this, the gold was melted again, and the
result was satisfactory. I was able to roll the gold to .6mm required
for my 1 DWT tokens.  I melted the gold (the scrap after punching out
the blanks) two more times and it continued to be solid.

Concerning the Nome gold: I will contact the miner and give him some
of this flux to try on his gold.

I want to thank all readers who provided suggestions concerning this
problem.  I passed all of this on to my friend who gave me the flux.
I suspect that there was enough information there to give him some
insight.  Either that or the simple fact that I melted this gold at
least a half dozen times and it just decided to cooperate!

I would also like to thank those that have provided information about
die engraving.  This will probably be a winter project for me, and I
know just enough to be dangerous.  Worse comes to worse, I destroy
some steel, and then pay some one to cut my die."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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