Introducing Maestro

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).

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

The carving characteristics for "Maestro" are as follows:

  1. A large-headed bald man with a fringe of hair around the back of the head. Nearly the entire obverse is altered.
  2. The profile is highly altered, with a prominent large nose.
  3. A nice large ear with internal detail.
  4. The beard is narrow, ending in a goatee that extends to the edge of the coin.
  5. Facial alterations include an eyebrow, wrinkled brow, altered nostril, faint mustache, a smiling mouth, and a slightly enhanced cheek.
  6. There is very little field (which may be textured) behind and above the head. LIBERTY may be partially or totally removed.
  7. The neck and collar are very wide and thick, with a little notch in the collar at the bottom towards the front.
  8. The date is removed.
  9. Above-Average-High quality workmanship.