Introducing Level Head


By Art DelFavero RM552 and Stephen Alpert HLM10

In January of 2020 I was fortunate to acquire a hobo nickel that was listed as a $13 BIN on eBay (Example 1). The subject of work was the common theme of a bearded man wearing a hat. I knew that I had seen at least one other match to my acquisition, so of course, I ventured into the archives.

One thing that stood out to me about this carving was the nature of a very noticeable segmented and grooved out hat band. This tell-tale hat adornment became my focus, and soon after I found a match via a 2006 QD submission (Example 2). Within a couple of days another was found among archival photos from the Heritage Auction website (Example 3). As I submitting this nicknaming, I found a fourth example in the OHNS archives.

Initially I submitted these three photos to the deciding board with a potential nickname of “Groovy”. Steve Alpert suggested the names “Level Headed”, “Level Hat”, and “Level Head”, because the hat band resembled a carpenter’s level. In the end I went with “Level Head”.

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The carving characteristics for "Level Head" are listed as follows:

  1. Bowler style hats with a segmented and grooved out hat band.
  2. Punched in head and facial hair.
  3. Well-placed, simple outlined and scooped out ears.
  4. Front of hat brim always to the left of L in LIBERTY.
  5. Early dated host coins.
  6. Well-groomed bare necks with no collars.
  7. LIBERTY and dates are left intact.
  8. Nicely executed fields.
  9. Light to no profile alterations.