OHNS webpages often have too many graphics/pictures to display swiftly.  Be patient while this page loads.
Introducing “Virtuoso”     −by Art DelFavero RM552 and Verne Walrafen HLM620
{ from  Fall 2008 BoTales }
Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.     Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.     Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.     Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
   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:
    1) Host coin 1913 high grades.
    2) Liberty and date remain intact.
    3) Hair and beard are punched.
    4) Much Engraving skill used in various ways to shade.
    5) Nicely shape ear with inner vertical center line.
    6) Three dimensional hat with band and bow.
    7) Nicely formed engraved collar.
    8) Lapel engraved with a checker formation.
    9) Alterations to the profile ranging in mild to heavy (crooked nose).
   10) Hair on the forehead below the hat brim.
Introducing “The Charmer”     −by Stephen Alpert LM10 and Art DelFavero RM552
{ from  Fall 2008 BoTales }
Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.     Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.     Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
   I [SA] believe that this artist that we are nicknaming “The Charmer” was probably a later hobo nickel carver, working maybe in the 1930s to 1940s. All three known specimens have the date removed, but the style is unlike that of early carvers, being a simplified rendition of the standard design hobo nickel (bearded man wearing derby). “The Charmer” apparently smoothed the surface of the nickel (except the face and maybe LIBERTY) before engraving the derby, ear, hair, and collars using thin neat grooves.
   He carved a distinctive C-shaped ear, and holed the coin at the top. I had submitted pictures of the two specimens in my collection to BoTales' new “Three's A Match” feature; but before it was to be published in this issue, eagle-eyed Art spotted a third specimen that was in OHNS's Sixth Auction in 1998. Art suggested the name “The Charmer” because of the hole at the top, apparently made so the hobo nickel could be put on a charm bracelet or worn in some other manner.
   The first specimen I obtained (the one with the taller-domed hat and no LIBERTY) was purchased in May 1996 at the Long Beach Calif. Coin Expo, for $40. My other specimen (shallow dome, with LIBERTY) was purchased on eBay in May of 1998, for $52.
   The third specimen spotted by Art was lot 34 of our Auction 6 (Jan. 1998), and sold for $160 to a mail bidder. It was authenticated by Del Romines (who rated it Superior) and Bill Fivaz (Above Average). I believe that Bill's rating is more in line with our quality scale.
   The carving characteristics for “The Charmer” are listed as follows:
    1) A C-shaped carved ear.
    2) A hole at the top of the obverse.
    3) All design features made with thin grooves.
    4) A simple derby hat, with a wide hat band with a bow in the center;
           and a thin line for a hat brim, curved or angled upward at the ends.
    5) Parallel grooves form the hair, beard, and mustache.
    6) A smooth field at the left, hat dome, neck, and shoulder (all smoothed out before the engraving).
    7) A double collar.
    8) The profile is unaltered.
    9) LIBERTY may be removed.
Introducing “Squiggly”     −by Art DelFavero RM552
{ from  Fall 2008 BoTales }
Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.     Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.     Click to view an enlargement of this photograph.
   Most of the time, it's easy to see if carvings match. That is to say, can they be attributed to the same artist without much question? In the case of “Squiggly” it's a little harder. One has to look closer, and also understand certain carving and engraving techniques and tools used. Also one might have to send photos to other collectors and collector/carvers, to check and verify his assessments. Both master carver Keith Pedersen, and OHNS past president, Author, and long time hobo nickel collector Steve Alpert did just that upon examining the three examples.
   The first example was one that I won in an eBay auction on August 29, 2006 for the sum of $181. The second example belongs to our editor Ralph Winter. It was purchased out of Kentucky on eBay for the sum of $150. Our third example was purchased on November 24, 2006 at the MSNS Thanksgiving weekend coin show for the price of $70. The average price for these carvings is $133.66, and my personal quality assessment is above average to above average high.
   The carving characteristics for “Squiggly” are listed as follows:
    1) A squiggly line used to form the shape of a lapel.
    2) Same shape sculpted shoulder.
    3) Liberty and date removed.
    4) Matching collars on two and a similar one on the third.
    5) Wriggle cutting and liner tool use to form hair, beard and eyebrows.
    6) Similar formed derby hat with band, bow, and/or ornament.
    7) Liner tool used on all hats and shoulder.
    8) Similar shaped ears with the same detail components.
    9) Moderate amendments to the profile.