Introducing Zoot Suit
By Marc Banks RM 538
Recently (August 2014), I was fortunate to purchase a skillfully carved hobo nickel (left photo) on eBay that was a match to a hobo nickel (middle) I had purchased in early 2013 as a Buy It Now on eBay. Another carving (right) clearly by the same unknown carver sold in another eBay auction later in 2013. All three carvings depict a bearded man wearing a fedora with a shallow crown and a jacket with vertical stripes below the lapel, and an ear composed of double engraved lines and a small round circle at the center. I am nicknaming the carver of these nickels "Zoot Suit" after the iconic jacket with bold stripes often worn with a fedora.
The carving characteristics for "Zoot Suit" are as follows:
- Fedoras with moderate to long brims pointed at front and back. Fine accent lines may be present.
- An engraved ear that overlaps the hat brim. Ear detail consists of a 2nd cut line and a small round circle at the center.
- The hair, moustache and beard were created with a series of short strokes with a liner tool creating a wavy look.
- The beard varies from close cropped to a long point extending to the rim of the nickel.
- Modifications to the eye appears on two examples. An eyebrow also done with liner tool appears on all three examples.
- All examples display alterations to the profile (nose and nostril). An accent line is placed behind the nostril. The mouth has also been enhanced with a downward turn.
- A shirt collar above the lapel has a triangular fold at the front. Lapel has a V-shaped indentation. Shoulder is decorated with vertical stripes that outline the date (difficult to see on the example on the far right which is slightly out of focus).
- The field behind and above the head are smoothly dressed. The fields on the example on the left are recessed. LIBERTY is left intact.
- The left and middle carvings were done on 1915 & 1914 nickels respectively. The date of the third cannot be discerned.