Introducing Curly


By Verne Walrafen HLM620

In January 2010 I purchased on eBay the first hobo nickel shown (on the next page) on the left for $529. I was certain that I had already seen other carvings done by this same carver so I asked my friend Art DelFavero to search the OHNS QD Archive for us. He found the next two carvings shown; the first from June 2001 and the second from October 2005. I was not 100% convinced that my specimen was done by the same artist as the two Art found so we showed the three to Steve Alpert. Steve confirmed Art's considered opinion that all were done by the same hand. He further informed us that he had a fourth example on his desk from its owner at that moment for the purpose of creating a QD.

If you watch a currently active carver develop their skills over time, as I have with a number of them, artists change their style as they progress. They don't normally carve the exact same design over and over again. So I am willing to concede that, more likely than not, all four of these carvings were done by the artist I am nicknaming “Curly.” Quite clearly the last three carvings certainly were done by “Curly” so I have met the requirements necessary to establish a valid nickname.

My carving “feels” more accomplished to me as the others seem much cruder in their execution. For that reason, plus the fact that it has both the 1916 date and the LIBERTY legend remaining, it seems to me that this carving may have been accomplished later in “Curly's” career regardless of being shown first here simply because I encountered it before the other specimens. Then again I may well be allowing my personal preference/prejudice for carvings with dates and legends to affect my impression.

Click to view enlargment. Click to view enlargment. Click to view enlargment. Click to view enlargment.

The carving characteristics for “Curly“ are listed as follows:

  1. All have curly hair and beards with no moustaches evident.
  2. Three dimensional hats angled towards the back of head.
  3. All seem to be depictions of Orthodox Jewish men due to side curls of hair called peyos.
  4. All have long noses with nostril alterations.
  5. All have accentuated lips.
  6. Total profile alterations.
  7. Engraving, peening, and punching techniques used to create a sculpted appearance.
  8. Collar/shoulder work (with three specimens displaying an upside down triangle motif at bottom).
  9. Liberty and date removed on three specimens.