Introducing Bird Man

By Marc Banks RM538 and Arturo Del Favero HLM552

In 2013 I purchased a Classic period carving (#1) of a bearded man wearing a wide brimmed hat from a dealer at a small show in Connecticut. In addition, this carving had a very distinctive ear that I hadn’t seen before. The inner detail of the ear was created with fine lines that resembled the veins of a feather. To my surprise another carving (#2) with the same hat and ear detail was sent in for an OHNS Quality Designation later that year. It was a much longer wait for a third work by this unknown carver to appear. This July (2021), a carving with the tell-tale hat and ear by the same unknown carver was auctioned on eBay. My good friend Arturo was the lucky winner. Now we can officially call this talented carver who added a feather design to the ears of his characters "Bird Man".

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1 Closeup of Ear 3 4

The diagnostic characteristics for identifying hobo nickels made by "Bird Man" are:

  1. Long, double outlined ears displaying an internal feather pattern in lieu of inner ear detailing (Example 4).
  2. Three-dimensional brimmed derbies decorated with accent lines and similar rectangular bows near the center of the hat band. "X" in center of bow on Example 1.
  3. Hair, eyebrows, moustaches and beards are engraved on each example. The hair and beard are separated below the ear.
  4. Profile altered with a deep, wedge-shaped notch at the bridge of the nose.
  5. Nostrils are accentuated on noses.
  6. Eyes are outlined
  7. Simple collars are barely visible on Examples 1 and 2.
  8. Full or partial LIBERTY left intact.
  9. All specimens are executed on 1913 host coins.
  10. The fields are well dressed.
  11. Carvings display medium gray toning.