Click to return from whence you came! Mike Pezak, Modern Nickel Carver
Click on any photograph for enlargement.

Fred Benson ~ Spring 2004

Some information on Mike was taken from an article written by David E. Schenkman
for the TAMS Journal ~ Token and Medals Society, Inc. ~ Volume 43, Number 4.


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      As a long time member of OHNS and former member of its Board of Directors, I just naturally could not keep my nose out of anything that had HOBO NICKEL connected to it. While cruising the Internet about 2 years ago, I came across a site called "The Hobo Nickel Guy". After accessing the site and having a look around, it soon became evident that this was no ordinary carver and that he seems to be projecting a good wholesome image for hobo nickels. It was not too long after that, I became a fan of Mike Pezak.

      I purchased a few nickels of Mike's on eBay and was happy when I received the nickels and at how different they were from what I was use to seeing. I decided to write to Mike about his carving and to tell him about OHNS, one thing led to another and before long I was on the phone with Mike talking about his carving and how he got started. He was friendly and open about his work but explained to me that his pictures really don't reflect the depth of his carving, I soon discovered what an understatement this was. He went on to tell me that he has only been carving for two years and that he has many ideas for his carvings. I suggested he join the OHNS and that he get one of the books on hobo nickels and copy some of the nickels from the old carvers, Mike told me he had the books but he didn't feel copying the old nickels was proper for him as an artist. He just kept telling me that he wanted to do "other things" with his carving and it is obvious he has done just that.

      Mike was a member of the OHNS for 2 years, around 1999, but he quit his membership because he was not sure where his work fit into the tradition of hobo nickels. We had many talks about that and his carvings since then. I reassured him that while his carvings were not the "traditional hobo nickels" that he still had much to offer. Over the next year and a half I purchased some of Mike's "good nickels" as he calls them. I knew his work well from the nickels I had but he would always explain how the picture did not show a lot of the details and that the nickel would look much better in person. He offered me a nickel of a gold miner he carved, the price was over that I was use to paying for his nickels but he told me that he stands behind his work and if I felt that it was overpriced to just send it back. I bought the nickel on that guarantee and remember the day I got the nickel. I knew there would be no sending it back when I saw it, the work was clean and much more detailed than expected and with magnification I just kept seeing more and more little details carved into it.

      Mike seems much more comfortable with Reverse carvings. Although some nickels by various artists were carved on the reverse, by far the majority was carved on the obverse. Mike started to make more and more reverse carvings and it was in this environment that his main character "HOBO HARRY" became the focal point of his work. Mike carves 'HOBO HARRY" in various everyday activities including fishing, snoozing in a hammock, spooning with his girl in the moonlight and even gold mining (the nickel I have in my personal collection). I have to say that the detail on his carvings of "HOBO HARRY" is mind boggling. Harry has soles on his shoes, pockets in his pants, a belt buckle on his belt and other facial features that can only be seen under 20x magnification. Every time I take Mike's carved nickels out, I discover some things I never saw before.

      Drop by his website and check out his work, his link is on the OHNS website at www.hobonickels.org. Unless I am seriously mistaken, our society and the hobby in general will hear a lot more about Mike Pezak in the future.

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Webpage last updated:   Monday, August 2, 2004