Introducing Trouble Clef

By Adam Leech LM65, Chris Dempsey LM64

The first example of this carver, on a 1913 Type 1 nickel, appeared on eBay in December of 2012 and was purchased via Buy It Now by Adam Leech for $300. At the January FUN show, Adam approached a dealer who was also collecting hobo nickels, and he had the subsequent two examples. The second example shown is on a 1913, type 2 nickel. I (Chris Dempsey) was lucky enough to acquire the third example for my date and mint mark set, which is carved on a 1913-D Type 2 nickel.

Adam went through several name choices, but he ultimately chose the name "Trouble Clef." When I asked how Adam arrived at that name, he said "Well the ear really resembles a Treble Clef, and boy, he just looks like trouble."

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

The carving characteristics for "Trouble Clef" are as follows:

  1. Plain Derby with no hatband and a curved brim.
  2. Backwards "S" that resembles a musical treble clef.
  3. Beard and eyebrow carved with short cuts from a line graver.
  4. Two beard points extend below the chin.
  5. Bare neck with no collar.
  6. The profile is unaltered.
  7. Field over the derby and behind the head and neck is stippled.
  8. At the time for this write-up, carvings by "Trouble Clef" appear on early date nickels.