Introducing Willie Wideneck
By Stephen Alpert LM10
Last November (2009) I purchased on eBay the hobo nickel shown here (with the shading above the hat). I already had a carving by this same carver (no shading, darker beard) that I purchased in 2003. Both works have a large hat, high collar, and a very wide neck. Art DelFavero found a third specimen (strongly checkered coat) in a July 1995 BoTales article (reprinted in the Fall 2008 BoTales) by Jeff Daniher. Jeff's nickel is pictured below on the right.
My 2009 specimen (on a VG nickel) was bought for $227.50 from a seller in Pennsylvania. My 2003 specimen (on an XF nickel) was also purchased on eBay, for $117.50, from a seller in Florida. Jeff's nickel was a gift from a neighbor. She was given it around the end of the Depression by a hobo in appreciation for food and being allowed to sleep in her parents' barn. That hobo said he was given the nickel by a man (another hobo?) named Willie whom he had helped. (See the BoTales article for the full story.) Thus I am nicknaming this old unknown artist "Willie Wideneck."
The carving characteristics for "Willie Wideneck" are as follows:
- A large hat, with a long downward-curved pointy-ended brim. The back of the brim lies on the shoulder.
- The hat band has a faint bow.
- The ear has internal detail, and touches or overlaps the hat brim.
- The nose is rounded.
- The beard, hair, and mustache are formed by overlapping zigzag wriggle cuts.
- The field is smoothly dressed. Wriggle cuts create the shading above the hat on one specimen.
- LIBERTY is removed.
- A high collar covers the neck, up to the chin, jaw line, or ear.
- A liner tool was used on the dome of the hat, and the coat shoulder area. The date is obliterated.
- The neck is very wide.
- Artistic quality is Above Average.