Introducing Cosa Nostril

By Marc Banks, RM538, Don Wolfe, RM981, Stephen Alpert, HLM10, and Art DelFavero, RM552

In 2017 I was looking through the Hobo Nickels on eBay at just the right time and purchased a well-carved classic (1) being offered as a "Buy It Now". This typical style carving depicting a bearded man wearing a domed hat with a crescent-shaped brim was the work of a talented artist who skillfully employed peening, punching and engraving techniques. Not too long afterwards a carving (2) clearly by the same artist appeared on eBay. This example was won by Don Wolfe. This year (2019) OHNS Archivist Art DelFavero located a third match (3) hiding in Steve Alpert’s Hobo Nickel Guide Book. This carving resides in Steve's own collection. After looking through his own collection, Art found a fourth example (4) that had gone unrecognized to that point. One of the more obvious characteristics of these carvings is the enlarged nostril. After considering several nicknames, it was decided that "Cosa Nostril" was a fitting name.

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The carving characteristics for "Cosa Nostril" are as follows:

  1. An altered profile including modifications to the nose including a noticeably enlarged nostril.
  2. Domed hats with ledge- or butterfly-shaped bows on the band and crescent-shaped brims. Hat slants downward towards the back of the head. The front brim points towards the left of L in LIBERTY
  3. Punched hair, moustache and beard. The tip of the beard nearly reaches the rim of the nickel.
  4. Ears show some variation, but all are nicely detailed and positioned close to the hat brim and below the rear of the bow on the hat band.
  5. Alteration to the eye.
  6. Tall collars reaching to the bottom of the beard and jacket lapels.
  7. Examples 1 through 3 have 1 or two bumps that may represent the top of a tie or a button(s).
  8. Nicely dressed fields; LIBERTY left intact.
  9. Dates both present or removed on these examples.