Introducing Browser

By Marc Banks, RM538

In 2016 I won a classic hobo nickel (1) on eBay. The carving depicted a man with a closely cropped moustache and beard wearing a domed hat with a band decorated with fine vertical lines and a brim with rounded ends. What caught my attention was the fine detail used on creating the hair, moustache, beard and prominent eyebrow. From the workmanship it was clearly the work of a talented but unknown carver. Many months later another carving (2) was offered on eBay that possessed these same characteristics. Despite the efforts of archivist Art DelFavero (RM-552), no additional examples were located in the OHNS archives. In September of this year (2017) a friend of mine called me about a hobo nickel (3) that was among coins in a collection he had recently purchased. Although the hat had a shorter brim and somewhat different collar than the first two examples, everything else matched. I sent photos to fellow OHNS QD examiners and several serious collectors who agreed that the three carvings were the work of the same artist. When it came to a nickname for this carver, I immediately thought of the conspicuous eyebrow he added to each carving, thus the nickname "Browser".

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The carving characteristics for "Browser" are as follows:

  1. Domed hat with vertical line pattern on band and brim with rounded ends.
  2. Densely carved hair, moustache, beard and eyebrow.
  3. Broad ears that vary in overall size (also the size of the lobe) and the ears are partially hidden by hat.
  4. Modifications to eyes- punched, lids defined.
  5. Very slight modification to nose.
  6. Collar and jacket partially accented with fine lines and squares.
  7. Totally dressed fields.