Introducing The Mole

By Marc Banks RM538

Early this year I was lucky to win a high quality hobo nickel (1) that snuck through eBay without a lot of attention. As can be seen from the picture, the carving was a traditional hobo carving of a bearded man wearing a hat. By the details incorporated into this carving (i.e., finely finished hat with a raised brim, raised ear, neatly punched hair and beard, fully dressed fields, etc.) it was clearly the work of a talented artist. The feature that stood out was the mole on the man's cheek. I wasn't aware of any matches to this carving. However, even before the nickel was delivered, OHNS archivist Art DelFavero located another nickel (2) that was clearly the work of the same skilled carver while going through the society’s archives. About a week later as I was looking through the OHNS web site and stumbled across yet another hobo nickel (3) by this carver. This last match was one of the carvings on the banner of the spring 2006 issue of Bo Tales. Carving #3 differs in that block letters were added that read "ISH_GA_BIBBE". The photo is of lower resolution and less in focus than the other two but, a mole is not apparent. Never the less I am nicknaming this carver "The Mole" after the distinctive feature on the first two specimens.

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

The carving characteristics for "The Mole" are as follows:

  1. A well finished hat with a high dome, wide hatband with a large three-section bow, and a long raised brim. There is also a vent hole centered over the bow (less apparent on #3 because of the photo quality).
  2. A small raised ear up against the hat brim.
  3. Neatly punched hair, moustache and beard. A long, punched eyebrow.
  4. Alteration to the nose and neck varies on the three examples.
  5. There is a mole on the cheek of #s 1 and 2. #3 does not appear to have the mole but again the photo is of lesser resolution.
  6. Double collars, a lapel on the jacket collar. Accent lines and/or cross-hatching on the jacket collar.
  7. Cleanly dressed fields with LIBERTY removed.
  8. Specimens #1 & #2 on 1913 Type 1 & 2 nickels respectively. The date on #3 appears to be 1913 as well.