Introducing Grim Creeper

By Chris Winkler RM1679

Being locked up by the Covid-19 lockdowns, I pulled out my old box of coins a year ago that I had not touched in 15 years. I then started buying graded US coins, then Civil War tokens and medals, and that lead me to fractional California gold from the mid 1800's. Not sure what it was that caught my eye about Hobo nickels, though as an artist, I really appreciate their uniqueness and coolness and have been collecting since about February of 2021.

In searching for a seller online, I found a coin store that had said they had some in search results, but when I checked their website, they did not. So I emailed them and they had 11 older and 7 newer, and made a deal for all of them. It included two "Bo" Hughes, a "Peanut Ear", and "The Hatter." Besides a really cool Potty Trade dollar; there were five from unknown/newer artists. I showed them all to Art DelFavero, and the next day he identified two of the unknown.

Examining my nickel (#1 below), and after reviewing all the old carvers, I thought it had a couple of the mouth and eye features of Holey Man, though none of the other features. So Art says there are three others that are very similar and one other (#2) has the same reverse carving as my nickel of a woman hanging under the bison. In the name of good taste we our omitting the two reverse carving pictures.

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

I think #1 is an early carving. Art found #2 and this one seems to be a transition, evolution coin as he is now adding ears and rounded the nose with eye level notch, same flat brim and band with the vertical lines, though this hat is flat. The ears are an "E" or flipped 3; eyes are dots; nostril is enlarged, and has opened mouth. Beard is flowing forward like others. No flower, but a hole in lapel or some other thing. I think #2 was done at a later date and has very similar characteristics to #1, however, it has the ears, rounded nose with eye level notch, and exact same girl on the back, tying the flat nose to the round nose. #4 has the same hat, reverse 3 or E ear, rounded nose with eye level notch, beady eye, dot eye, enlarged nostril and open mouth. The beard is bumpier than the wavy lines but still flows forward.

I bounced a lot of different proposed names off the OHNS nicknaming committee. All four examples have a creepy look. So, hence, I settled on "Grim Creeper" for a nickname.

The diagnostic characteristics for identifying hobo nickels made by "Grim Creeper" are:

  1. All are dated 1913.
  2. High domed derby style hat with flat brim on all except for #3 with flat hat.
  3. Distinctive wide band with vertical lines.
  4. Eyes that are a raised dot of metal.
  5. All have a notch in front of the eye.
  6. Two have flat noses; two have slightly curved noses.
  7. All have enlarged nostrils.
  8. All have an open mouth.
  9. Three have prominent ears that touch the brim; #1 has his ear covered with hair.
  10. Part of Liberty showing below the brim on all but #1.
  11. The almost identical reverses of #1 and #2 have a female hanging off the Bison's belly.