Introducing Saucer Hat

By Mark Banks LM64 and Art DelFavero RM552

Among a group of hobo nickels I purchased in 2012 was a classic carving (#1) of a man with a stubble beard wearing a derby. I sent a picture of the carving to OHNS archivist Arturo "Cinco" DelFavero who thought he had seen a similar carving and subsequently located a match (#2) to my coin in the OHNS archives. What "Cinco" had remembered was the "flying saucer" shaped hat. In 2013 a third match (#3) was offered on eBay and a deserving "Cinco" was the high bidder. Two more examples have since surfaced. Coin dealer/hobo nickel collector Corbitt Chandler (was RM378) brought his hobo nickel collection to the 2014 FUN Show and sure enough he had a nice example (#4). I noticed the final example while browsing the pictures from an old auction catalog from a local auction (#5). This specimen varies somewhat from the other four but still has the saucer shaped hat and appears to be an earlier work by this carver. By now you know where the nickname came from.

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The carving characteristics for "Saucer Hat" are as follows:

  1. Bold cut lines outline the hat, shirt collar and jacket lapel.
  2. A wide arc at the front and back of the brim create a 3-dimensional appearance.
  3. The rounded crown of the derby combined with the brim makes the hat look like a science fiction "flying saucer."
  4. A wide hat band sits slightly high on the crown with a bow at the center (#s 1-4).
  5. Cut lines create a long ear. The hat covers the top of the ear (all but #5 which is smaller and located lower on the head).
  6. The hair, eyebrow and beard are punched. #5 has no hair behind the ear and is the only specimen with a moustache.
  7. The shirt collar meets the jaw line. There is a triangular fold at the front.
  8. The jacket lapel has a button hole (#5 has what appears to be a button at the front of the collar).
  9. The eye and profile are unaltered.
  10. The fields are cleanly dressed with LIBERTY removed. The date is missing on all examples.