Introducing Papillon

By Marc Banks RM538

The work of this new nicknamed caver should look very familiar. Example 1 below of a man with a full-beard sporting a domed hat with a turned up three-dimensional brim and a large bow, and a cigarette dangling from his mouth is one of six carvings on the cover of Delma Romines’s 1982 book Hobo Nickels: Prisoner Nickels, Shop Tokens, Modern Engravings. This carving also appears on page 45 of the book. It was one of a number of book plate carvings from the Don Haley Collection that were offered in the 2019 Heritage Auction in Orlando, Florida. Example 2 is found on page 26 of Steve Alpert’s Hobo Nickel Guide Book. Example 3 was purchased at a coin show in Massachusetts. I am nicknaming this unknown carver “Papillon” after the large butterfly-shaped bow that appears on the hat of each of the carvings.

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The Carving Characteristics for "Papillon" are listed as follows:

  1. A large bow resembling a butterfly located on the hat band behind the ear. Some vertical lines decorate the band.
  2. The hat has a low crown and a turned up, three-dimensional brim.
  3. The hair, moustache, beard and eyebrow were created with deep punch marks and darkened to add contrast.
  4. A C-shaped ear (with a punched center on two examples) sits across the bottom edge of the hat brim.
  5. Slight to no modification to profile and eye.
  6. A tall shirt collar with a triangular fold at the front. A button is visible on the fold.
  7. A jacket lapel across the shoulder. A button hole is visible on two examples.
  8. A cigarette with ash at the end hangs slightly downward from the mouth.
  9. The fields are recessed and cleanly dressed with LIBERTY removed. The fields are stippled on Example 1.
  10. No dates are visible. Examples 1 and 3 are on Type 2 “D” mint nickels. Only an obverse picture of Example 2 was available