Introducing Uncle Abe

By Mark Banks RM538, Art DelFavero RM552

In recent years I have acquired a small number of carved coins on denominations other than nickels. In 2013, I purchased a classic carving (#1) depicting the iconic Uncle Sam character done on a 1915 Lincoln Cent. In February of 2014 it became apparent that the carver of this cent had made others examples of this character when two others appeared in a week's time. Owen Covert (RM-686) brought to my attention a group of three carvings sold on eBay that included a close match (2) to mine done on a 1917 penny. A few days later a third example (3) done on a 1913 penny by this carver was auctioned on eBay. OHNS Archivist Arturo "Cinco" DelFavero was the lucky winner. This spring a fourth match to these carvings by Uncle Abe done on a 1909 Lincoln cent appeared (4). To my knowledge this is the first time carvings done on pennies have been attributed to a single individual. Perhaps a match carved on a nickel will surface in the future. I am nicknaming the carver of these pennies "Uncle Abe" after the handwritten name on the holder of the coin I purchased.

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The carving characteristics for "Uncle Abe" are as follows:

  1. Extensive use of a graver.
  2. Carved lines outline the hat, shirt collar and jacket lapel.
  3. The top hats have a checkered pattern, bands with 3 or 4 carved stars and a slightly downturned brim.
  4. The hat's dome and hatband do not quite reach to the back of Lincoln's head.
  5. Long cut lines are used to create the hair and a long goatee.
  6. Lincoln's eyes have been modified on two examples.
  7. An ear is visible on two of the examples.
  8. A tall, pointed collar points up in the direction on the mouth.
  9. The bow tie has been enhanced.
  10. The jacket is altered to varying degrees.
  11. The first example has vertical lines across the jacket and shirt.
  12. All examples to date are carved on Lincoln cents from the 1910's.