Introducing DeBonair

By Marc Banks RM538, Art DelFavero RM552, Ralph Winter LM37, Adam Leech LM65

My most recent eBay purchase was an exceptional carving (1) of a wavy haired man with a long beard sharply attired with a fancy hat, high collared shirt and jacket with a lapel. A diamond stick pin added an air of affluence. I contacted OHNS archivist Arturo DelFavero who upon seeing a photo of the carving remembered that our friend and BoTales editor Ralph Winter had a similar carving (2) in his collection and that there had been a carving (3) featured in an article by Adam Leech in Volume 22, Issue 2 (2013) of BoTales that matched Ralph's. Upon comparing the characteristics of the three carvings there was no doubt that they had been done by the same carver. Engraving on the edge of Example 3, "WITH BEST WISHES TO RAMONA FROM ALEXANDER FEB. 14 1917" suggests that this example was a Valentine's Day gift. The shading technique to create depth on these carvings suggests they were done by a skilled engraver. The suave appearance of these characters inspired the nickname for this carver: "DeBonair".

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

The carving characteristics for "DeBonair" are as follows:

  1. A skillfully carved domed hat, with a band decorated with cross-hatching and a three-dimensional brim. Examples 2 and 3 have a bow with a knot midway across the band. On example 1 half of the bow shows at the rear of the band. This example also has a two curved accent lines across the crown.
  2. The hair, moustache and beard on examples 1 and 2 are extensively engraved. Example 3 may also be engraved, but with shorter stroke resulting in a triangle shape, suggesting an earlier less refined or a more hurried work.
  3. The engraved ears show varying degrees of detail (less on Example 3).
  4. Alterations to the eye on Example 2 include eye detail, eye lashes and an eyebrow. There appear to be alterations to the eye on Example 3, but the available photo makes it impossible to see the extent of the modification.
  5. The profiles are altered to varying degrees: modifications to the nose on Examples 2 and 3 and the forehead (pronounced brow) on Example 1.
  6. All three examples have a tall collar folded back at the front to create a V-shaped opening. The lapels are deeply carved and have a button hole at the very front. Cross-hatching has been used to add shading to the details of the collars and lapels. There is a curved accent line on the shoulders of Examples 1 and 3.
  7. The artist has added a cigarette to Examples 1. Example 3 appears to include the faint outline of one as well.
  8. Examples 1 and 2 have diamond stick pins at the front of the collar.
  9. The fields have been dressed and LIBERTY removed (partially visible on Example 1). Cross-hatching used once again to add shading/depth above the crown of the hat; also behind the shoulder on Example 2.
  10. The dates have been removed on all three carvings, but they are done on S mint nickels.