Appalachian Medicine

Mercury Dimes and Teething

coin collection on board

“As babies we all wore a Mercury Dime around our neck on a string so we wouldn’t have teething pain. I guess it worked Mama had 5 kids and we all wore the dime. We had that dime in a cup with old coins, the dime had a hole drilled in it. When Mama’s house was broken into the cup was stolen, we used that dime’s description in case someone tried to pawn it. We never got it back.”

—Vera Guthrie – 2019

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I’ve never seen a baby with a mercury dime around its neck, but if I’d know about the folklore when my girls were teething I would have certainly tried it 🙂

Tipper

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Betty Jo Eason Benedict
    May 15, 2020 at 6:31 am

    Twice I’ve have found a “half dime”…….even smaller than a regular size dime. Both of them had a hole drilled in the top!!! Now you have me wondering the “why” of the hole. One of them was in my mother in laws sewing basket and tarnished so badly I almost threw it out!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    April 19, 2020 at 4:02 pm

    We’ve used a Nettle Necklace made by a Cherokee Indian lady with special medicinal powers on several children for teething pain and they seem to work.

    we

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    April 18, 2020 at 1:56 pm

    This explains the dime with a hole in it attached to a paper clip which was in my grandmother’s things. I’ve never heard of this bit of folklore.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    April 18, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Momma did tie ,but just a string around our necks for teething. It did not have no dime on it. Now as i got older, us teenagers did wear a penny on a chain as a necklace to look cool so we thought.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 18, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Tipper,
    Like my friend Ed Ammons, I knew Dr. Bacon at Swain County Hospital. He delivered my 1st. Girl. He told me that it was hard for Little Girls to have Little Girls. My wife, at the time, stayed in the Hospital for 13 days. She had to have 3 DNC’s before they let her come home. Lauralea was just fine, I never knew she was in the top 98% in the nation in the tenth grade. Her teachers sent me a letter home by her, asking me to let her go to Durham, to the Governor’s School of Excellence. Later they changed the name to N.C. School of Science and Math. After she graduated, she went on to the Tarheel University and became a Person Who Sells Dope, legally.

    Jennifer is Smart too, after graduation, she went on to a school owned by Georgia Teck and became an Insurance Coder for Doctors. She works at home and on the Computer and like my Mama—the Best Little Christian I know. …Ken

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    April 18, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Vera, I remember the dime with the hole in it. I don’t remember wearing it and I can remember events that occurred before I was a year old.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 18, 2020 at 9:30 am

    When my brother Stephen was born he had a umbilical hernia (ruptured bellybutton). Doctor Bacon told Mommy to keep it taped up and it would heal itself. When that didn’t seem to be working he told Mommy to tape a silver quarter on it. In the meantime Mommy had taken Stephen to the DeHart Reunion where he had won an uncirculated 1900 silver dollar for being the youngest person there. Well, the quarter wasn’t big enough and Doctor Bacon told Mommy he would need surgery. Mommy told him about the silver dollar and he said it might work but if it didn’t they would have to sew it up. It worked! It took 2 or 3 years but it worked.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 18, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Never heard of that one either. There is a little thorny tree called a ‘toothache tree’ that will numb one’s gums if the bark is rubbed on them. I have only seen it once, growing at an old house place. I tried it and it does work.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanthoxylum_clava-herculis

    • Reply
      aw griff
      April 18, 2020 at 10:46 am

      Thanks Ron. I first thought of the Devils Walking Stick but after going to the site I saw it was not the same. Being a very curious person I would have tried the toothache tree too. Wished we had them here in KY. I’m assuming you found them in its native range.

      • Reply
        Ron Stephens
        April 18, 2020 at 11:34 am

        Actually it was in southeastern KY. Native range is said to be southeastern US. Never have understood that since they must be very few and far between. I’m confident I found it where I did because it had been planted for use as an herbal remedy.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    April 18, 2020 at 9:07 am

    That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of that.

  • Reply
    tmc
    April 18, 2020 at 9:03 am

    Boy, if we’d known that we’d sure tried it, our Daughter use to beg for Orajel and it tastes awful, she just no doubt needed releaf.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    April 18, 2020 at 8:36 am

    No one tied a dime around my neck although Im not one to rule out the idea of it helping. Granny wore a copper bracelet to alleviate arthritis pain. ( I’m considering inventing the copper body suit.) I was soooo ugly as a child, they did tie a pork chop around my neck to get the dog to play with me….. it’s all in good be it dry humor! Some of us have dry humor. Like the time I sat atop the mountain ( where there’s an unmanned refreshment center usually closed.) Folks would park, ( mostly outsiders) walk like they were on their last leg in the desert heat with tongues wagging dry parched only to get disappointed and SHUT DOWN by a closed refreshment stand AND closed public toilet. The disappointment was palpable. So I sat there hidden laughing all day because boy have I known disappointment and it hurts…. those faces and body language did not grow old as each reaction was unique…..

  • Reply
    Shirl
    April 18, 2020 at 8:31 am

    It must have worked or Vera’s mom wouldn’t have kept it through five kids. That’s a new folklore for me.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    April 18, 2020 at 7:58 am

    I’m totally bumfuzzled on this one.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 18, 2020 at 7:03 am

    I never heard of that either.

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