The July 2009 issue of the Alaskan Token Collector features a nice article by editor Dick Hanscom on a very unusual topic: earthquake tokens and medals. Dick kindly sent me a copy of the text. Some excerpts and an image are republished here. -Editor Back in May, one morning about 5:30, we were jolted awake as the house shook. Jan and I kind of looked at each other, said "earthquake" and went back to sleep. It obviously wasn’t big enough to do any damage, and it was just too early to get up. Since that initial jolt, there have been 3 or 4 more that could be felt at our house over a span of a couple weeks.
Earthquakes are extremely common in Alaska. Most are not felt, but are recorded by sensitive instruments. The ones we felt at the house were only 3+ according to the newspaper. That is quite small to shake the whole house, so I went on line to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center (http://www.aeic.alaska.edu/Seis/recenteqs/index.html) to see where the epicenters were. They were 1 to 3 miles SE and SSE of Ester, a small bastion of liberalism 10 miles outside of Fairbanks.
Our house overlooks the Ester valley, so I knew we were close. A customer who works at the Geophysical Institute at UAF studying volcanoes came in. While he is a volcanologist, he is in close contact with the people who study earthquakes. I showed him on a map where we live, and he said that we were pretty much on top of the epicenter, about a mile or so away.
There have been over 50 quakes on this previously little known fault line since before the first one that we felt. All but a few went unnoticed by the general population. They have since died down, but if they start up again, I may have a seismometer installed at the house by the folks at Gee-Whiz, as our location makes nearly a perfect triangle with two others they have in the field.
And with the shaking going on, I thought it would be a good time to note the 45th anniversary of the "big one" in 1964. There were several medals and tokens struck making note of this massive quake. This earthquake, originally rated at 8.4, has been re-evaluated and placed at 9.2, the seconded largest ever recorded (http://www.aeic.alaska.edu/quakes/Alaska_1964_earthquake.html).
The most common earthquake medal is shown below. This was made in cupronickel (both bright and oxidized), bronze and brass. I have to believe it was also made in silver, but I have not seen one. It is 40mm and looks like a Wendells product.
The article pictures and lists other earthquake medals and tokens, but Dick notes the list is likely not complete. Let us know if you're familiar with any others. -Editor
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