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Introducing Diamond Jim


By Marc Banks RM538 and Warren Stabler RM848

Among several original hobo nickels I purchased at the ANA show in Boston this past year was a carving of a bearded man wearing a derby with a stick pin by an unknown carver. Lines emanating from the stick pin suggest a diamond. Having seen this attribute before, I began looking through old auction lots and guide books for similar carvings possibly done by the same individual. I was lucky and found a match on page 34 of Steve Alpert's Guide Book. This same nickel was Lot #76 in the 2001 OHNS Auction. Pictures of the two nickels appeared in the “Three is a match” column in the 2011 Volume of BoTales. Art DelFavero located another example in the OHNS Archives. This third specimen is in the collection of Warren Stabler. I am naming this carver “Diamond Jim” after the distinctive stick pin.

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

In addition to the distinctive stick pin, carvings by “Diamond Jim” possess the following Carving Characteristics:

  1. An altered profile, eye and nostril.
  2. An ear that extends up into the brim of the hat, the ear has a thick outer edge.
  3. A domed hat with a brim that is upturned on the side and rounded (three dimensional) front and back.
  4. A narrow hat band formed by two lines − two examples also possess a small rectangle and a feathered edge.
  5. The beard and eyebrow are punched � different sized punches and/or a multi-pointed graver/liner tool were employed.
  6. The beard ends in a point in front of the chin.
  7. The collars have a triangular fold.
  8. Accent lines are found to varying degrees on the hat, collar, lapel, jacket and the field behind the head on the three examples. The Stabler coin also has cross-checking on the jacket. The specimen from the Boston show also displays a button hole on the lapel.