By Barry Homrighaus RM1548
Early this year I won the first coin shown below in an eBay auction for $30.00. After a bit of research, I discovered that two very similar coins (#2 and #3 below) had been sold in past OHNS Auctions, the first in 2007 and the second in 2008. Although the early auction photos were not very clear, the distinctive facial features and odd depiction of the bow made it seem that I had found a match. The question was, were these coins the work of a previously unidentified carver, or perhaps earlier works by the nicknamed carver "Curly", well known for the deeply carved, curling hair, side-curls and beards on his very ethnic hobos.
Three coins couldn't resolve this question to anyone’s satisfaction, but as luck would have it another coin (#4 below) appeared on eBay in June of this year, and I won it for $358.00—quite a jump from the $30.00 I paid for the first one. With two coins in hand and two older photos to compare, the OHNS Nicknaming Committee determined that these carvings were not by "Curly" but represented four works by the same hand.
Now onto the assignment of a nickname. Of course, "Curly's Cousin" was a contender, along with various references to the knotted bow, or squinty wrinkles. But it was the swollen lips, and generally unpleasant visage that led me to choose "Lippy," which is sometimes defined as ill-mannered, ungracious, or insolent. Seemed like a good fit to me!
The carving characteristics for "Lippy" are as follows:
- Facial features are so strongly modified as to appear comic, with enlarged, bulbous noses, enlarged nostrils, squint lines behind the eyes, and swollen lips on an unsmiling mouth.
- Three of the four coins exhibit multiple small hatch marks on or near the bridge of the nose, as if this character is experiencing a bad smell!
- All four examples feature a high-crowned derby with a looping three-dimensional brim, and a wide hatband with a large, knotted bow which forms a distinct “V” where the band does not continue behind the bow.
- The crowns of the hats vary in height; the top of the crown is close to the rim on all four examples.
- The deeply notched lapels are crudely carved.
- The front of the hat brim has obliterated the “LI” in “LIBERTY” in each case, leaving “BERTY” and the date legible on each coin.
- All four carvings are on 1920s dated coins, and seem to represent a skills progression, with the later dated coins (1926 & 1927) showing more skill and detail in the carvings.