Introducing Melon Head

By Marc Banks RM538

In 2013 I was high bidder ($256) on a hobo nickel on eBay (#1 below) with a high crowned hat that matched two other carvings that had sold earlier in the year. One of these (#2) was Lot 100 from OHNS Auction 21. Including the buyer's fee it sold for $302.50. The second (#3) also listed on eBay sold for $315. Soon afterwards OHNS archivist "Cinco" DelFavero located a forth example (#4) while searching the OHNS Archives. I have nicknamed this carver "Melon Head" after the distinctive hats depicted on all four examples. The shape of the crowns and the vertical accent lines on the hats remind me of half a watermelon.

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

The carving characteristics for "Melon Head" are as follows:

  1. A nicely carved domed hat with a crescent-shaped brim and a wide band with either a pointed or v-shaped fastener in the middle.
  2. Fine texturing created with small punch marks is present in the field behind the head and around the edges of the hat. The hat is textured in a similar manner.
  3. The hair, moustache and beard are composed of C-shaped punch marks that create a wavy look.
  4. Hair & beard on two specimens reach the collar while remnants of the Indian's braid are visible on the other two.
  5. The carvings have a raised or oval ear with a punched center, C-shaped ear.
  6. The eye is punched and may have a crease at the corner.
  7. The profile is altered with a deep notch at the bridge of the nose and the nostril is enlarged (outer edge of nostril accented on two specimens).
  8. The collar created with cuts lines with acute angle at the front.
  9. The fields are cleanly dressed with LIBERTY left intact.
  10. These four are done on nickels dated 1913-1917. Traces of the ribbons are present on all of these examples.