The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 47, November 16, 2014, Article 32


Dick Hanscom of Alaska Rare Coins in Fairbanks, Alaska edits a wonderful publication, the Alaskan Token Collector & Polar Numismatist. Dick is also a semi-pro coin maker, and this article from the Nov/Dec 2014 issue tells the tale of how his latest creations came to be. At the end you may be saying to yourself, "Now, why didn't I think of that!" -Editor

Tom's Tooth token in gold Tom's Tooth token in silver

As noted in the last issue, I had to go to Seward to be a presenter, along with Kaye Dethridge and Irene Shuler, at the Alaska Historical Society’s annual meeting. The high point of the trip was a late breakfast with Kaye and Irene, and also Tom Dalrymple.

During our meal, Tom made the comment that he had had an extraction the previous day, and slid a small plastic box across the table to me. It was a cute little box, with a tooth fairy on the top. Inside was a gold crown from one of Tom’s wisdom teeth. Some might say that this was not an appropriate meal time topic, but it was only the crown, no tooth. As he slid it across the table, he said “Make something for me.”

Tom is an assistant professor of accounting at Kenai Peninsula College. After spending three days with him at the coin show at the Kenai Peninsula Fair in Ninilchik in August, I came to appreciate his sense of humor. I am sure he found this greatly entertaining.

Driving to Anchorage to catch the flight back to Fairbanks, I was thinking about the tooth. About the only thing that Tom could even think I could make was a token. So, what kind of token? Let’s see. It was a wisdom tooth, so “WISDOM” something. “MAY YOU HAVE WISDOM.” The other side would simply be TOM’S TOOTH.

I figured this would be easy. It was not. When melted into a button, because of the alloy of dental gold, the tooth had a very dark top surface. The lighter components go to the surface and oxidize. Various means were tried to remove this discoloration. Finally an acid bath was successful.

Once the dark film was removed, I could start forming the button into a planchet using the screw press. After one or two presses, it must be annealed again to prevent cracks from forming around the edge.

And the dark film was back, which means back into the acid. After several rounds of flattening, annealing and acid bathing, the button was large enough to cover the dies.

This done, I set up the dies in the screw press and gave the swing arm a good throw. I looked at the results - very faint. It was so faint, I had a hard time reseating the token in the dies. I pressed it 4, 5, 6 more times, and it was still faint.

It was once again back to several rounds of annealing, acid bathing and pressing. This procedure was followed at least four times before I gave up. It was as good as it was going to get. Besides, the dies were now bent out of shape. And so was I! This had taken four hours.

And the lesson I learned was....don’t play with dental gold. It is too hard.

I made silver tokens for Tom to go along with the gold (after all, he did pay for breakfast), and these pressed like butter!

For more information about the publication (which contains a very extensive fixed price list of Alaska tokens), contact Dick at -Editor

Kolbe-Fanning website ad4

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2020 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster