By Art DelFavero RM552, Verne Walrafen HLM620
On May 10, 2008, I called Verne Walrafen, and told him that I had just received an incredible original hobo nickel that was won in an eBay auction five days earlier for the sum of $212.50 (first photo below). As I described it to him, I remember saying that the person who carved this was the Steve Adams of his generation. Now knowing that there were two more specimens by this artist previously sold, Verne asked if I had a name for him. I replied “Checkers Magee,” (referring to a carving attribute). Two or three hours later Verne called me back and said let's name him “Virtuoso,” due to the artist's skill and ability, rather than a reference to a carving trait. I thought to myself, and then said out loud, “that's the perfect name”.
Our second example shown was sold as Lot 115, in the OHNS Auction 10 (January 12, 2002) for $385 including the 10% buyer's fee. Number three was won on eBay on July 4, 2004 for the sum of $613. Recently a fourth example was sold on eBay for the sum of $387 (July 2, 2008). Average price across the board $399.38. Our personal assessment of quality is above average (high) to superior.
The carving characteristics for “Virtuoso” are listed as follows:
- Host coin 1913 high grades.
- Liberty and date remain intact.
- Hair and beard are punched.
- Much Engraving skill used in various ways to shade.
- Nicely shape ear with inner vertical center line.
- Three dimensional hat with band and bow.
- Nicely formed engraved collar.
- Lapel engraved with a checker formation.
- Alterations to the profile ranging in mild to heavy (crooked nose).
- Hair on the forehead below the hat brim.