By Stephen P. Alpert LM10
The three hobo nickels illustrated here are obviously the work of the same artist, who I am nicknaming "Maestro" as to me the figure looks like an old-time orchestra leader. The design is very distinctive: a large-headed bald man with a large nose, very wide neck, with a smile and goatee.
I assume this talented artist also carved hobo nickels of other designs.
The first specimen I obtained twenty years ago back in September, 1994, from an exonumia dealer, for $140. My second specimen (with LIBERTY), just purchased on eBay in May, 2014, was much more expensive, at $1,525. Chris Dempsey owns the third matching carving (LIB of LIBERTY remains).
The carving characteristics for "Maestro" are as follows:
- A large-headed bald man with a fringe of hair around the back of the head. Nearly the entire obverse is altered.
- The profile is highly altered, with a prominent large nose.
- A nice large ear with internal detail.
- The beard is narrow, ending in a goatee that extends to the edge of the coin.
- Facial alterations include an eyebrow, wrinkled brow, altered nostril, faint mustache, a smiling mouth, and a slightly enhanced cheek.
- There is very little field (which may be textured) behind and above the head. LIBERTY may be partially or totally removed.
- The neck and collar are very wide and thick, with a little notch in the collar at the bottom towards the front.
- The date is removed.
- Above-Average-High quality workmanship.