Introducing GW 'Bo' Hughes
By Stephen P. 'BigOne' Alpert LM10
According to Del Romines, "Bo" was the youngest of ten or eleven children, and the son of a freed slave. He was born circa 1900 and left home about 1915 and led the life of a hobo right up to the time he disappeared in 1980. He learned the art of hobo carving from his friend, mentor, and fellow hobo, Bertram "Bert" Wiegand. Bo made his first hobo nickels in the late 1910's.
Bo was a prolific carver and made thousands of hobo nickels with a wide range of subjects - the standard design, jockets, presidents, friends, self portraits, clowns, soldiers, etc. He made reverse carvings also - donkeys, elephants, other animals, and standing hobos. Bo's best works are the cameo carvings he made in the early 1950's. In 1957, he suffered a crippling hand injury while making a hobo nickel. From 1958 to 1963, he had to re-learn hobo nickel carving by adopting a new technique using punches and limited carving. By the mid 1960's until the end of his career, Bo was able to resume making nice totally carved hobo nickels.
Most of Bo's hobo nickels are unsigned, but he did sign some "GH" or "GWH." Only one specimen is known upon which he signed his nickname "Bo." Bo toned many of the post 1957 hobo nickels he created by carrying them in a tobacco tin. The coins took on a nice darkened golden to orange-brown color. The history of Bo's life, travels, and adventures are documented in the two hobo nickel books by Del Romines.