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Two More Nicknamed Old Hobo Nickel Artists
{ from  Summer 2005 BoTales }   −by  Stephen Alpert

This time I am introducing two more old nicknamed hobo nickel artists. One is an old friend we抳e seen many times before (but his carvings are hard to find). The other is an artist whose works you probably haven't seen before.

Introducing “The Traveler”

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Traveler 1929           Traveler 1930

This early artist apparently created dated self-portraits during his travels in the late 1920s to mid 1930s. Illustrated here is a 揹ate set of his carvings, 1929 through 1936. We have previously referred to him as an itinerant worker. I am now formally nicknaming him “The Traveler.”

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Traveler 1931           Traveler 1932

Examining this dated series in sequence, we can see some trends. On the earliest carving, dated 1929, he tried to chisel the entire field smooth. On subsequent carvings, he used the chisel to make a coarsely-textured ornate field. On the last coin, 1936, he carved the message 揑t抯 great to Be Home behind the neck. Also note the absence of a beard on the 1936 carving. He apparently cleaned himself up for his return home.

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Traveler 1933           Traveler 1934

Identifying a hobo nickel by “The Traveler” is easy as his self-portrait design is very distinctive. The diagnostic features of a Traveler hobo nickel are:

1) The flat-topped hat (on which the Indian's hair may still be visible),
     with a fairly straight brim and simple hat band.
2) The hair-beard-mustache is formed by straight to slightly curved
     cuts (a little like “Bo” but more like John Dorusa).
3) The profile is slightly altered, usually just a blunting of the tip of the nose.
4) The ear is round-ish, usually with rounded internal detail.
5) The field is entirely chisel-dressed, with LIBERTY removed, creating a cameo-like head
     on a roughly-textured or faceted background.
6) The carvings are dated, from the late 1920s to 1936, either using the coin's date,
     or carving the date below the neck truncation.

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Traveler 1935           Traveler 1936

Assembling a date-set of hobo nickels by “The Traveler” would be a rewarding challenge.

Introducing “Tall Collar”

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Article Expansion
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Two Carvings by “Tall Collar”

(The name “Tall Collar” should not be confused with our old friend “No Neck”
who carved a very high and thick crude collar to avoid having to dress the neck.)

Last year I obtained a hobo nickel just like one I bought in 1993. Obviously, they both were made by the same talented early artist, who I am here formally nicknaming “Tall Collar.” He's named after the tall shirt collar (starched?) on his carvings, with a nicely engraved bow tie at the front.

Everything on a “Tall Collar” hobo nickel is nicely and delicately engraved or punched, with extensive use of a liner tool on the hat, hat band, bowtie, and coat collar (and lightly used on the field, tall collar, etc.).

Diagnostic features of a “Tall Collar” hobo nickel are:

1) The smooth or very finely lined tall shirt collar, with a lined, square-ish bowtie at front.
2) A nice derby with fine lines or heavier shading lines on the dome. The brim is thin and
     nearly straight, with the front of the pointy brim ending by the left side of the B of LIBERTY.
     The hat band is lined, with a bow or rectangle band loop over the ear.
3) The hair appears punched, using a small punch, with dense overlapping punches that create darkness.
4) The profile is unaltered.
5) The ear is small, and may be hidden in the hair.
6) The field is nicely dressed.
7) The lined coat obliterates the date of the coin.

The two illustrated “Tall Collar” hobo nickels are on fine and very fine P-mint type-II buffalo nickels. If anyone has a “Tall Collar” carving in their collection, let us know how it compares to these two.

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