Introducing Curly Locks

By Marc Banks RM538

In 2019, I was the back bidder to my friend and fellow collector Bob Polk (LM-1550) on a classic hobo nickel (1) offered on eBay. Although this standard hobo nickel depicting a bearded man wearing a derby by an unknown artist was average in overall quality, I thought it was a nice example of an extensively punched (hair, eyebrow, moustache and beard) carving. Part of the appeal was that it was done on a 1914 host nickel, the year my father was born. I saved the eBay photo thinking someday I will ask about buying the coin. I would run across the photo on my computer every so often, but never got around to asking. In the meantime, I saw a couple other very similar carvings fashioned on 1913 nickels (Examples 2 and 3), unmistakably done by the same artist, come up for auction. Recently, I told Bob about my interest in the carving and that I had seen a couple other examples, he graciously sold it to me. As I was preparing this write up our OHNS archivist Arturo DelFavero (RM-552) was hard at work locating yet another example (4). Art also told me Example 2 was won by OHNS member Barry Homrighaus (RM-1548) in the 2021 Kagin Auction. I have dubbed this new nicknamed carver "Curly Locks" after the signature upward curl on the cheek of each of these carvings.

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

The diagnostic characteristics for identifying hobo nickels made by "Curly Locks" are:

  1. Punched hair, eyebrow, moustache and beard. A punched, upward-curl across the cheek.
  2. A derby with a straight brim. The front of the brim points to the B in LIBERTY. The crown is outlined and textured with a series of cut marks obscuring the details of the Indian's hair. A plain hat band.
  3. An inverted tear drop-shaped ear, with a punch mark in the center.
  4. A punched eyeball.
  5. A collar created with two parallel cuts.
  6. The Indian’s profile is unaltered.
  7. The date, the Indian's ribbons and LIBERTY are left intact.
  8. The field behind the head is cleanly dressed.