Introducing VanBogh

By Marc Banks RM538, Arturo DelFavero RM552

About 5 years ago Art DelFavero and I realized that we each owned hobo carvings that were clearly the work of the same individual. The carvings depict a man with shoulder length hair and a long beard that reaches towards the rim of the nickel terminating in a point that resembled the tip of an art brush. The search for the third example proved allusive. We began referring to the unknown carver of the two nickels as "Paint Brush Beard". It wasn't until this year (2017) that I spotted another example being advertised. We discussed possible names including our original "Paint Brush Beard" and "The Artist", but decided "Van Bogh" (no ear on any of the three carvings) combining the names of two artists, post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh and classic hobo nickel carver George Washington "Bo" Hughes was just right.

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

The carving characteristics for "Van Bogh" are as follows:

  1. No ear.
  2. Hat has a shallow crown with a raised, crescent shaped brim that is either straight or slightly three dimensional on the ends.
  3. Finely carved shoulder length hair.
  4. Long carved strokes form the beard, no moustache.
  5. Tall collar tapering to a point at the front. Remnants of the Indian's ribbon visible across the collar.
  6. Unaltered profile.
  7. Field above and behind the head nicely dressed. LIBERTY left intact on examples 1 and 3, completely removed on example 2.
  8. Dates left intact on two examples (1920, 1937). Worn date on 1920 and the late date 1937 suggest these carvings may have been done late in the classic period.