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Coins Rings

Greetings,

Has anyone out there heard of rings being made out of coins by men
in the service years ago?

I have heard of sailors at sea tapping the edge of a coin (nickel?)
with a spoon and forging a ring out of it.

I started to experiment myself, but quickly abandoned the spoon and
went for a tiny hammer. Much more efficient.

Any more info out there that you can share??

Thank you,
Jeff Regan
CapeCod

Jeff,

Yep, that was a pretty common way to make a ring. I’ve probably
made half a dozen of them, but not in decades. You need to use a
coin that’s reasonably precious, silver or gold, if you want it to be
worth doing.

I used a spoon the first time, but made myself a little oval-faced
hammer for the others. If you’re careful the edge of the coin will
curl over nicely and you can still read the letters around it on the
inside, both the obverse and reverse. You have to use great care
when cutting out the center after you’re done, so as not to scar that
part up.

I’ve also heard of someone drilling a hole in the center and beating
the inner edge outward, with a wooden block to absorb the impacts and
avoid scarring the outer face. When completed, the faces of the coin
appear (highly distorted) on the outside of the ring, with the
milled edge running around the center. I’m sceptical of that, but
I’d love to see someone more patient than I am try it.

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com/

My father wears one, that he spooned from a silver dollar while he
was on a ship in WW2. They were headed for New Guinea as his 1st
stop,at the time. My father is now 83 years old and his health is
failing. Its about 10mm wide, smooth and plain on the outside, but
inside you can still make out some of the writing from the coin, and
bits of the picture(at least you could still see this stuff 40 some
years agowhen I was a kid. Its very possible that its all worn
smooth inside nowadays). He said he drilled a hole in the center,
and then took the spoon from his messkit, and I assume a hammer(dont
know where he got one onboard a troop transport), and he tap, tap,
tapped it into a ring. He said there wasnt much to do for weeks as
they were shipped over to the Pacific front. My father told me an
interesting side story from this journey. The troops were given
individual serving size cartons of ice cream once. They were hard to
come by , so they were very coveted by all. Some loudmouth jerky
soldier kicked my father’s carton overboard, and when my father
retaliated by punching the guy, the man went overboard, and was lost
at sea, never to be found again. This makes my father sound like
some kind of roughneck, but actually he has always been one of the
kindest, most gentle people you will ever meet.

Ed in Kokomo

Yes, Jeff, someone gave me a ring made from a quarter. It was made
by a customer I often served at the soda fountain in the (family)
drug store where I worked for a couple of years while I was in high
school. He and his wife were favorite “regulars”.

I loved wearing it. Interestingly, some of the stamped design /
words were visible on the inside, though distorted a bit.

Pam Chott
www.songofthephoenix.com

I knew a gentleman who used to do this…he is a native american…
I remember him telling me it was done with a spoon and it was called
a “10,000 tap” ring.

the one that I was shown was BEAUTIFUL. the really skilled craftsmen,
like the gentleman who showed it to me…could retain the design of
the coin, though stretched and faint, on the inside of the ring.
AMAZING! good luck, it really looked like it showed a great deal of
patience. 10,000 taps is an awful lot! ( a hammer, though probably
prefered may ruin the image on the inside of the ring)

-julia

Hello Jeff,

You asked about rings made out of coins. My mentor (who apparently
spent some time with the Native Americans) told me that when dimes
were still made from coin silver, the young people who looked after
the stock/sheep would do just what you described. They would pierce
a hole in the center of the coin and put it on a nail. He said a
metal spoon was then tapped against the coin’s edge, gradually
enlarging the center and forging a band. The resulting ring could
be sold for a dollar - 10 more silver dimes that could be made into
10 rings, each to be sold for a dollar… etc. It was a way to make
a few bucks.

My dad who served on a US Navy destroyer in WWII, spent a lot time
creating things from stainless steel using needle files. He made
his cuff-style watchband and a small pendant cross. Frankly, there
wasn’t much to do and quarters were very tight. I wonder if the
source of the stainless steel might have been kitchen utensils…
I’ll be interested to hear other stories.

Never tried it myself, Judy in Kansas, where we are seeing warm temps
and drizzle to light rains - possibility of snow on Sunday!!

I'll be interested to hear other stories.

I have a friend I met through the local rock club. While in the
military he made watch bands and link bracelets out of Iconel (high
temperature nickel alloy used in aircraft). All he had to work with
is hand files and spend 40 hours on each one. He sold them for $20.
The bracelet and watch band he made for himself still looks new. He
challenges anyone to try and break the bracelet off his wrist (no one
accepts the challenge because he’s elderly).

I’m not sure what the price is on Iconel but if you find a scrap
piece it would make for some durable jewelry.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Colorado Springs, Colorado
http://home.covad.net/~rcopeland/

FYI…

I spotted half dollar silver rings in the Sundance Catalog not too
long ago. If you haven’t seen one before you can check it out at
www.sundancecatalog.com type dollar ring in the search box.

It’s pretty amazing!
Pam

My dad who served on a US Navy destroyer in WWII, spent a lot time
creating things from stainless steel using needle files.  He made
his cuff-style watchband and a small pendant cross" 

Those stainless steel cuff style bands were very popular at that
time. They were also mass produced too. They are called Don Juan
bands, and are still being made today. I keep a few around and sell
one every once in a while. People who have tried them, swear by
them, and never go back to any other type. Several times over the
years , I have had people buy entire 6 pc carded displays full of
them so that they never run out.

Ed in Kokomo

My dad taught us how to do this while we were in high school a few
years ago. Very economical for kids in 10th grade with a sweetheart.
You need to use a silver quarter, that is, one made before 1964, I
believe. You use a spoon to tap (bang!) along the edge, turning the
coin as you go. It is slow, noisy work, but the coin will start
getting a lip which becomes the band. When you have finished banging
the coin to the right diameter you need to drill out and finish the
center. My brother did this with our dad’s limited power tool
resources. In the finished product you can often see the date of the
coin inside the band of the ring. The end result is a very pretty
little silver ring. Make sure to use a heavy spoon and a real silver
coin and you’re in business.

Caitlin St. John

Ah, coin rings! We got really excited when we found a ring that
said “Napoleon III” on the inside of the band among my late father
in law’s things. We figured some ancestor must have been in a
French army and gotten the ring as a thank you, since we had read
this is done sometimes. But a jeweler dashed our hopes of tracing
some family history when he explained it was a coin ring.

Rose Alene McArthur

 While in the military he made watch bands and link bracelets out of
Iconel (high temperature nickel alloy used in aircraft). 

Is Iconel anything like Nichrome? In the same time period, m.o.l., my
father made an “egyptian scroll link” bracelet for my mother, which I
still have. Bright, shiny, strong and attractive-- as long as you
aren’t allergic to nickel!

–Noel

Having made several of these rings, I’m sorry to say that the ring
in the Suncance catalog, in my opinion, could not have been made
with the spoon method. The top surface and the inside of the ring
could not both have inages on them. One of the surfaces would be
smooth.

John Teegarden

Pam,

The silver dollar ring shown in the sundance catalogue is not the
same as those in this thread. The rings we bored sailors used to make
ends up with a plain top.

Jerry in Kodiak

I'm not sure what the price is on Iconel but if you find a scrap
piece it would make for some durable jewelry.

And unwearable if you have a nickel allergy. My wedding ring was
made of Monel; made my finger blister.

Christine “it was an omen” Quiriy, in Littleton, Massachusetts

I spotted half dollar silver rings in the Sundance Catalog not too
long ago. If you haven't seen one before you can check it out at
www.sundancecatalog.com type dollar ring in the search box.

I checked it out. It made me want to try it. However, skeptic that I
am, I can’t imagine that every ring they sell has been hand made.
The ring in the catalog was just so perfect, and there was no
disclaimer that the ring you receive would be any different from the
ring pictured.

Christine “am I stating the obvious?” Quiriy, in Littleton,
Massachusetts

On the subject of the rings in the Sundance catalog-- They appear to
me to have been made by a method that is very quick and easy if you
have the right tool.

You can buy a set of dapping-type tools that are intended (I think)
for making seamless bezels, round or square. There are graduated
tapered holes-- picture cone-shaped depressions in steel-- and a
matching punch. You would drill a hole in the center of the coin,
put it in the matching-sized hole, and tap it down with a punch,
yielding a truncated cone shape. In other words, a band that flares,
smaller where the center of the coin was, wider on the rim. Then you
either reverse it and tap til the ring is straight, or move it to
some other mandrel and mallet it til even. The metal will be much
thinner on the side that was originally the middle, as it has been
stretched quite a lot, but you should have a band that looks just
like the one in the catalog.

You could, of course, do this without the special tool, using a
mallet and a ring mandrel. It would just take longer. It occurs to
me that this could be a great project for teens-- maybe at a
birthday party! I can hear it now, like a woodpecker convention.

–Noel

   I spotted half dollar silver rings in the Sundance Catalog not
too long ago. If you haven't seen one before you can check it out
at www.sundancecatalog.com type dollar ring in the search box. 

The pictured ring was not made by the “spoon ring” process. The
design of the coin appears on both the inside and outside of the
pictured ring, with what was the outer perimeter of the ring
appearing on one edge of the coin. The blurb for the coin says it
was hand worked. My guess would be that it was raised with a
hydraulic press.

Lee Einer
Dos Manos Jewelry
http://www.dosmanosjewelry.com

I spotted half dollar silver rings in the Sundance Catalog not too
long ago. If you haven't seen one before you can check it out at
www.sundancecatalog.com type dollar ring in the search box. 

I’ve seen rings a bit like that, and the method used is completely
different from what we’ve seen discussed so far. In their process,
a hole is drilled as close to the center of the coin as possible, and
it is forced onto a tapering shaft, distorted into a conical shape
and then gradually worked down to a cylinder, one end of which is the
original hole in the center, and the other end being the outer edge
of the coin. Probably takes a couple of hours, at most.

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com/