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Introducing Big Ear


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At the bottom of page 23 in the OHNS Hobo Nickel Guidebook you will see the 1914 hobo nickel illustrated here. It is one of my favorite hobo nickels in my collection. Recently, another similar hobo nickel by the same unknown artist was submitted for OHNS Quality Designation (the 1913 piece illustrated here). Plus I saw a third example in a coin dealer's display case at a coin show this year(very similar to my 1914 nickel).

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So this unknown artist needs a nickname, and I have chosen “Big Ear” based on the prominent large ear he carved on his hobo nickels. The ear has a nice outer ridge, a lobe at the bottom, and nice internal ridges. [Please note that other old hobo nickels with big ears should not be attributed to “Big Ear“ unless most of the other characteristics described below are present.]

The diagnostic characteristics for identifying hobo nickels made by “Big Ear” are:

  1. The distinctive big ear as described above.
  2. A shallow derby hat placed high up on the head. The narrow raised brim is above the ear, and has pointy wrap-around ends. The front end points to B of Liverty.
  3. The hat has a plain hat band with a nice simple bow.
  4. A distinctive hair style consisting of short furrows or wrinkly grooves, also used to form the mustache and short beard.
  5. There are many altered facial features, carved eyebrow, crow's feet behind eye, wrinkles on cheek, and an enlarged nostril.
  6. The profile is altered (nose, mouth, lips).
  7. A simple plain two-part collar; an upper narrower collar atop a wider lower collar.
  8. The shoulder and date area is unaltered.
  9. The field is nicely dressed.
  10. Totaly carved, on an early date buffalo nickel

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Additional “Big Ear” Carvings