Introducing Bent Brim

By Ralph Winter LM37 and Chris Dempsey LM64

Back in February of 2010, I purchased the first pictured hobo nickel in an eBay auction for $186. I found the second specimen pictured as Lot 56 in OHNS Auction 12 in January of 2004. It sold for $82.50 with the 10% buyer's fee. These first two coins were then submitted to the BoTales "Three's A Match" feature and appeared in the summer 2010 issue.

Enter Chris Dempsey. Early in 2012 Chris purchased a small hobo nickel collection that included example number two (including OHNS QD paperwork from Auction 12). In April of 2011 he found the third example on the bourse floor of the Central States Numismatic Society Convention. Recognizing the hobo nickel was a match to the first two, he paid the dealer's asking price of $275. Chris and I have decided to call this artist, "Bent Brim."

It appears that the second specimen was carved the earliest, followed by the first example and then the third. There seems to be improving level of skill in the progression. The hat bands are more prominent on the first and third specimens. Other than the punched design on the hat of specimen three, these nickels are predominantly carved.

Click to view enlargment. Click to view enlargment. Click to view enlargment.

The carving characteristics for "Bent Brim" are listed as follows:

  1. Round domed derby hat with brim bent up at each end, hence the nickname.
  2. Derby sits well back on the man's head on two specimens.
  3. Large exposed neck area on each subject.
  4. No collar.
  5. The beard and moustache are carved and closely covers the chin and jaw line.
  6. The first and third specimens have hair done in a similar fashion.
  7. All examples possess a pronounced brow and the same altered/hooked nose that comes to a point.
  8. Field dressed rather roughly.
  9. Carved on early dated nickels (1913, 1915 [worn] and 1916-S).
  10. No attempt was made to remove the ribbons along the braid of the host coin.
  11. The date and LIBERTY remain on carvings one and three. LIBERTY appears to have been intentionally removed on the 1915 specimen.
  12. The third example displays a nicely carved ear (the first example appears to have a rudimentary ear far back on the head) and decoration to the hat, suggesting a progression in the carver's skill.