By Marc Banks RM538, Chris Dempsey LM64, Fred Avan RM908
At the end of December (2017), I was delighted to purchase a skillfully engraved hobo nickel (1) with the name "IZZY" carved where the date would be on the host Buffalo Nickel. This carving is without any doubt a match to two carvings owned by Chris Dempsey (2) and Fred Avan (3). These carvings show extensive engraving and the use of a liner tool. A case could be made that Specimen 3 is the earliest of the three carvings based on differences noted below. Specimens 1 and 2 are very similar suggesting the artist had begun to perfect the way he depicted this character. Whether "IZZY" is the artist of these works or is the individual whose portrait he carved remains a mystery. It does, however, make an appropriate nickname for this talented, unknown artist.
The carving characteristics for "IZZY" are as follows:
- The date has been replaced by the name "IZZY" in large block letters.
- Domed hat with fine cross-hatch pattern on crown, shallower crown on Specimen #3.
- Pointed, three-dimensional brim incorporating the Indian's feather at rear.
- Hat band with vertical lines on Specimen 3, no band on other two examples.
- Engraved hair, moustache, beard (wavy on Specimens 1 and 2) and eyebrow.
- Nicely detailed ears touching or just below the brim.
- Modifications to eyes, pupil added.
- Modification to nose- straightened and outlined near bridge
- Neck reduced and braid removed (Specimens 1 and 2) forming an Adam's apple.
- Engraved accent lines to highlight cheek, nose and neck
- Narrow rounded collar on Specimens 1 and 2
- Shoulder decorated in same manner as the hat; accented with fine lines and squares.
- Fields cleanly dressed on Specimens 1 and 2, some roughness under chin and above hat on Specimen 3. LIBERTY left intact.