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Introducing  “Raymond”  and  “Cactus Face”
{ from  Fall 2006 BoTales }   −by  Stephen Alpert
Introducing  “Raymond”

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T
his article nicknames “Raymond” as the unknown old hobo nickel artist who carved the two hobo nickels illustrated here. I chose “Raymond” because of the bold rays used to dress the entire field. In addition, there are many other similar features on these two hobo nickels, as listed below, to assure the same carver made them. Please note that “Raymond” did not make other old hobo nickels with a radial-rayed field unless some of the other diagnostic features are present.
I
just purchased the specimen with the open mouth this year on ebay, for just over $120.00. I liked the bold facial features and how the rays highlighted the head. In placing this hobo nickel into my collection, I discovered I already had a very similar specimen (the other hobo nickel pictured here). I had obtained that one back in 1988, as part of a large collection of old hobo nickels I purchased from a tokens and medals dealer. The collection consisted of 135 hobo nickels; the price was $2,500.00 for all 135. (Yes, hobo nickels were that inexpensive back then.) The collection was mostly below average to average quality pieces, but there were a few very nice ones. The “Raymond” carving from this collection is also illustrated in the OHNS Hobo Nickel Guidebook at the top of page 26.
O
bviously, the two hobo nickels pictured here were made by the same artist. I cannot recall seeing any other hobo nickels by “Raymond.” The open-mouth specimen has received a lot of wear since being carved. It may have been carried as a pocket piece. The reverse grades Almost Good. (The other specimen is on a F-VF coin.)
T
he diagnostic features of a “Raymond” hobo nickel are as follows, based on these two known specimens.
1) Straight bold radial carved lines fill the entire field and surround the head. Liberty is removed.
2) The derby has a thin straight brim, with a hatband above.
3) The profile is altered, with a notch at the top of the nose, and enhanced lips.
4) The facial features are altered: altered eye with a bead for the eyeball; altered nostril;
      altered mouth with enhanced lip and a crescent-shaped groove on the cheek.
5) The hair and beard are formed by unusual carved curly grooves. No mustache.
6) The ear is smallish, with a groove around the back of the ear.
7) There is a bold double collar.
8) Both carvings are on a 1913 Raised Ground buffalo nickel.

Introducing  “Cactus Face”

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I
first saw the work of the early-unknown artist that I am here nicknaming “Cactus Face,” illustrated on page 42 of Del Romines 1982 "Hobo Nickels" book (right column, second from bottom). To me the portrait resembles a cowboy, with a chunk of his hat missing at the top towards the rear, and sporting a spiny stubble-beard.
T
his same specimen (so I believe) appeared as lot 25 in the OHNS 1995 ANA auction held in Anaheim, Calif. I won it with a bid of $180 ($198 after 10% fee).
T
hen in mid-July 2006, a nearly identical specimen appeared on eBay, which I won at $232.50. (I have not received it yet; the picture of it, on the right, came from the eBay auction.) All this time I thought I had a one-of-a-kind old carving. Now it is apparent that an early carver had produced two or more nearly identical carvings of this design, making him worthy of a nickname.
I
compared my specimen again against the picture in Romines' book, and they appear to be the same specimen. The low resolution of the picture in the book prevents me from being 100% certain, but every detail appears the same.
A
lthough the big hole in the hat is very distinctive, I feel the appearance of the beard and mustache is just as unusual: being depicted by sparse, widely spaced, little thorns or needles, like on a cactus. Thus, I am nicknaming the artist “Cactus Face.”
T
he diagnostic characteristics that identify a “Cactus Face” hobo nickel are listed below:
1) The faint beard and mustache is formed by sparse, evenly spaced, little cactus-like spines or needles.
2) The cowboy-like hat has a big angular hole at top in the rear of the dome. The hat brim is
      bold, wide, raised, and pointed at the ends.
3) The nice ear has a thick bold outer ridge. The ear overlaps the lower part of the hat brim.
4) Nicely-carved curly hair is behind and in front of the ear.
5) There is a plain collar at top, above a strongly lined collar, above a diagonally lined coat
      (or shoulder). The date is obliterated.
6) The profile and eye are unaltered. LIBERTY is removed on one specimen, but left on the other.

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