Introducing Spring Beard

By Art DelFavero RM552

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While searching eBay in April of 2008, I spotted a gem of a hobo nickel with a $100 Buy It Now listing. Funny as it may sound, I actually waited about twenty or so minutes before committing to the purchase, leaving it unprotected and open for anyone to take. Upon receiving and examining my new hobo, it hit me that I had seen this work before. Having been recently perusing the O.H.N.S. auction catalogues made it a good place to start. Finding a match while flipping through the pages of auction #10 seemed all too easy. The real shock was finding a third match two days later, when I was not really looking for one. I had systematically been reading through old BoTales issues, catching up on articles that I had missed during the years that I was not a member. In the December 1997 BoTales, Vol.6 No.3, I found an article by Gail Baker Kraljevich titled “Ethnic-Style Hobo Nickels.” There was the third specimen of “Spring Beard” (the name that Verne Walrafen used in his description of the first specimen). Now the rest is hobo nickel history. My personal quality assessment is above average (high).

The carving characteristics for “Spring Beard” are listed as follows:

  1. An erratic spring like looking beard made by way of a multi grooved or tipped punch.
  2. Altered profile to create an ethnic face.
  3. Large strange looking ears.
  4. Lines cut into face (eye, nose, forehead, and cheek) by way of fine round graver to create character.
  5. All have an Adams apple.
  6. A high domed derby hat with a lightly wriggle cut hat band.
  7. All on early dated San Francisco minted nickels (1913, 1914) dates intact.
  8. Long angled collar and shoulder area.
  9. Nicely done fields smoothed then enhanced with fine liner tooling.