Introducing Bug Eye

By Marc Banks, RM 538 and Arturo DelFavero, RM 552

Soon after I won a holed hobo nickel depicting a shaggy looking character wearing a derby (1) on eBay in 2014, I found a matching carving (2) while searching the OHNS auction archives. Lot 41 in the 2010 auction also sporting a derby, had the same punched hair, eyebrow, moustache and beard, punched eye, modified nose and nostril, ear detail and double collar as the eBay carving. A short time after these appeared in the summer 2015 issue of Bo Tales, OHNS archivist Art "Cinco" DelFavero located the third match (3) in the Society's archives. This hatless carving of a bald man shared the same diagnostic markers found on the other two. I sent photos of the three carvings to OHNS QD examiners and long-time collectors who agreed that the carvings were the work of the same carver. The distinctive circular punched eye with raised metal surrounding it resembles a bug's eye, thus the name "Bug Eye."

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The carving characteristics for "Bug Eye" are as follows:

  1. The circular punched eye is surrounded by raised metal.
  2. Hair, moustache and beard are composed of small circular punch marks.
  3. The beard extends beyond the chin towards the rim of the coin.
  4. There is no separation of the hair line and beard below the ear. The punching extends to the collar.
  5. The eyebrows are finely detailed (also circular punch marks).
  6. The ear is nicely defined. Inner detail includes a groove at the top and an ear canal at the center.
  7. There is noticeable modification to the mouth on 1 and 3.
  8. Indian's profile has been modified with a deep notch removed at the bridge, enlarged nose & an altered nostril.
  9. Double collar formed by three cut lines that tapper to a point at the front.
  10. Fields are cleanly are nicely dressed. Specimen 1 has stippling behind the head. Specimen 3 displays a similar treatment. Liberty remains intact, faintly visible on 1 & 2 (not uncommon on 1913 Buffalo Nickels), bolder on 3.
  11. All three carvings are done on 1913 nickels