By Stephen Alpert LM10
This article nicknames “Raymond” as the unknown old hobo nickel artist who carved the two hobo nickels illustrated here. I chose “Raymond” because of the bold rays used to dress the entire field. In addition, there are many other similar features on these two hobo nickels, as listed below, to assure the same carver made them. Please note that “Raymond” did not make other old hobo nickels with a radial-rayed field unless some of the other diagnostic features are present.
I just purchased the specimen with the open mouth this year on ebay, for just over $120.00. I liked the bold facial features and how the rays highlighted the head. In placing this hobo nickel into my collection, I discovered I already had a very similar specimen (the other hobo nickel pictured here). I had obtained that one back in 1988, as part of a large collection of old hobo nickels I purchased from a tokens and medals dealer. The collection consisted of 135 hobo nickels; the price was $2,500.00 for all 135. (Yes, hobo nickels were that inexpensive back then.) The collection was mostly below average to average quality pieces, but there were a few very nice ones. The “Raymond” carving from this collection is also illustrated in the OHNS Hobo Nickel Guidebook at the top of page 26.
Obviously, the two hobo nickels pictured here were made by the same artist. I cannot recall seeing any other hobo nickels by “Raymond.” The open-mouth specimen has received a lot of wear since being carved. It may have been carried as a pocket piece. The reverse grades Almost Good. (The other specimen is on a F-VF coin.)
The diagnostic features of a “Raymond” hobo nickel are as follows, based on these two known specimens.
- Straight bold radial carved lines fill the entire field and surround the head. Liberty is removed.
- The derby has a thin straight brim, with a hatband above.
- The profile is altered, with a notch at the top of the nose, and enhanced lips.
- The facial features are altered: altered eye with a bead for the eyeball; altered nostril; altered mouth with enhanced lip and a crescent-shaped groove on the cheek.
- The hair and beard are formed by unusual carved curly grooves. No mustache.
- The ear is smallish, with a groove around the back of the ear.
- There is a bold double collar.
- Both carvings are on a 1913 Raised Ground buffalo nickel.