Introducing Adonis

By Stephen Alpert LM10 and Art DelFavero RM552

In the Fall 2012 BoTales, Art and I submitted two matching hobo nickels in the Three's A Match column. The third matching nickel appeared in our 2014 Auction as lot 100. Ralph Winter found a 4th example in his collection. All these carvings depict a similar-looking man, and they all have an added feature or two adorning the carving in the field in the rear or on the neck. Because of these adornments I came up with the nickname "Adonis" for this early unknown hobo nickel artist. The name is intentionally ironic, as an Adonis is a handsome young man, and the subject on the nickels is rather homely.

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The carving characteristics for "Adonis" are as follows:

  1. A derby with a straight or slightly curved raised brim.
  2. The hatband has perpendicular lining on three of the specimens (plain on first example).
  3. A small, narrow ear touches or is partially covered by the hat brim.
  4. The profile is strongly altered (similarly on each specimen), with a notch atop a large rounded nose, altered nostril, and altered lips.
  5. The squinty eye has crow's feet on three of the specimens.
  6. The punched hair is a bit bushy at the back of the head, absent below the ear, and forms a dense beard and mustache.
  7. The beard extends into the field.
  8. A bushy tuft of hair is at the front of the forehead, and extends into the field.
  9. The collar is lined, with a flap at the front.
  10. The carvings are adorned with added features such as pawn broker balls, a dollar sign, and a bee on the neck of one specimen.
  11. The field and derby dome are neatly dressed.
  12. Carved on early-dated nickels (three are 1913, other has date removed).