Original Hobo Nickel Society
12000 Sunset Ridge Drive
Ozawkie, KS 66070-6045

An Introductory Newsletter

Dear Hobo Friend:

                Thank you for your interest in the Original Hobo Nickel Society.  We would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about the society.

               We all share an appreciation for Hobo nickels!  These unique pieces of metal combine the fields of numismatics, folk art, and history.  The Indian head nickel is one of the most admired of all U.S. coins.  Its design is true Americana!  The years of its reign, 1913 to 1938, takes us through some of the most memorable periods in the history of the United States - the first World War, Prohibition and the Roaring 20’s, and the Great Depression - times we must not forget.

Each hobo nickel is unique as they were all individually hand carved, using the design of either the Indian or the buffalo as a base, and altering it to another design altogether.  The Indian has been changed into clowns, women, other Indians, friends and loved ones, bearded men, ethnic figures, famous people, and self portraits.  The buffalo has been turned into men with backpacks, and animals such as a donkey or elephant.  The influence of the events of the times can be plainly seen as we view hoboes, servicemen in uniform, flapper girls, prisoners in chain gang garb, shopkeepers, and read dates, names, places, or other inscriptions put on the coins.

These nickels, carved by yesterday’s homeless, were traded for meals, a place to sleep, a ride, or other favors.  Some were carved with images of loved ones as mementos of better times, or to honor those lost to time.  The specimens in our collections have stories to tell - wonderful stories to teach and educate future generations about men and women who struggled to survive, yet kept their faith in our Creator, themselves, and the American dream.  They may have been wanderers, but they worked hard for what they needed, helped each other, and honored a code among hoboes.


The Original Hobo Nickel Society


The OHNS was formed at the 1992 ANA Summer Conference in Colorado Springs, after Bill Fivaz presented a slide show on hobo nickels.  The goals of the Society were: start a newsletter (Bo Tales, now published quarterly), begin


a hobo nickel evaluation service (fully underway for many years), educate numismatists and the general public about hobo nickels (an ongoing project), and conduct an annual auction of hobo nickels (at each January FUN Convention in Orlando at our annual meeting) to raise money to sponsor ANA scholarships for young numismatists (successfully done since 1995).

In the early 1980s after articles and the first book on hobo nickels appeared, several people began creating copies of the old hobo nickels.  These are fairly easy to recognize as modern.  But since 1995, some very talented engravers have been producing beautiful original-design carvings; these are worth as much as the nice old original specimens, which they may resemble. The OHNS is devoted to collectors of all hobo nickels, both old and modern.

DUES in OHNS are as follows: $15.00 for one year (or 3 years for $42.00, or 5 years for $65). Junior members (under age 19) and Associate Members (same household) - $7.50 per year (share all mailings).  Life Membership is $250.00.

Included is a subscription to our quarterly journal Bo Tales and the annual auction catalogue.  Each issue of Bo Tales (except for the December auction catalogue issue) contains news, illustrated articles on hobo nickels and the artists who made (or currently make) them, articles on hobo history and related collectibles ( such as old hobo postcards and modern struck hobo tokens), historic old hobo cartoons, etc.  Members may borrow items from our hobo library, participate in the auctions, write articles, and buy our annual hobo tokens and publications often at a discount.  We have about 350 active members, and welcome more.  The club is educational, service oriented, charitable, and fun!

  Please watch our web site at:


for the latest club information.

 Thank you for your interest and support.  We hope you will become an involved member of the Original Hobo Nickel Society.

Steve Alpert,  President

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