Informant – “Sailors used to make rings out of quarters. They would set the quarter on a hard surface, standing up on it’s edge. They would tap the edge, rotate the coin, tap the edge, rotate the coin. Then they would drill a hole through the center.”
Informant – “I heard this from a navy friend of mine. He said they would tap the quarters with spoons, but I’m skeptical. I’ve made rings like these before, but I’ve always used hammers. But my friend swore they used spoons. I guess it makes sense. When you finish your chores on a ship, you have a lot a free time and nothing to do. My friend said they used to wear through spoons making these rings.”
Having made a ring like this myself (using a hammer), I can say that it is a very contemplative experience. There is a comfortable zen to the robotic monotony. It’s an easy task to perform on auto-pilot. You can zone out – a wonderful cure for boredom. Also, my informant’s friend was in the Navy in the 60s. There were still silver quarters in circulation then, so any ring a sailor made would be far more valuable than the quarter itself.
My informant first played this game in middle school and played it through high school. His friend taught him when they were hanging out together. He told me the rules as we played a small game together. It was typically played with four people, but could be played with more. To play, spoons are placed in the middle of the circle and there is always one less spoon than players. It doesn’t have to be spoons, but it is the most preferable. Each player has five cards. The first player draws a card from the deck and discards one next to him. The next player picks up that card and discards one of their own. And it goes on through the circle. The goal is to get four of a kind and when you do, the player with four of a kind grabs a spoon. Once one player grabs a spoon, all the others quickly try to grab one as well. One player will not have a spoon and they lose. The game can be played with elimination, but casual games just keep track of who lost the most times.
This game is not like typical American games where there is one winner. A player has to rely on the other members, but at the same time tries to trick them. What you have in your hand depends on what the person ahead of you has given you and to not lose, you have to pay attention to the other people in the circle. However, a player wants to be the first one to get four of a kind so that they will defiantly have a spoon and not lose. At the end, everyone who does not have four of a kind must compete with each other to get the spoon. This game is typically played at a time where kids are starting to learn how to interact with others in a way that is mutually beneficial, while still a bit self-serving. It teaches that there is a balance between the two, and good players know how to work that balance to their advantage. You don’t have to be lucky to win this game, just fast and good at reading people.