Introducing Holey Man

By Marc Banks, RM-538 and Arturo DelFavero, RM-552

Recently I acquired a match to a hobo nickel I had purchased a couple of years ago (#s 1 and 2 above). They both depicted a man with a distinctive upturned lip that gave the appearance of a sneer or scowl. I contacted OHNS archivist Arturo DelFavero to see if he knew of any similar carvings. After some searching he sent me a photo (#3) of a coin that shared enough diagnostic features (most notably an open mouth, a squared off upper lip and alterations to the eye) that it was clearly a match to the other two. Strangely enough the photo he sent me was of a coin from his own collection. Although we frequently send photos back forth to one another, this one had slipped by us. By chance all three examples had been holed. While other carvings by this unknown carver undoubtedly exist without these perforations, we are nicknaming this early artist "Holey Man" after the holes in each of these three carvings.

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

The carving characteristics for "Holey Man" are listed as follows:

  1. All three examples are holed.
  2. Hat domes nearly touch the rim of the nickel. Crowns and bands are decorated and the brims are crescent-shaped.
  3. Each has an open mouth resembling a sneer or scowl. The upper lip is squared off.
  4. Punched hair and beard done with a beading tool.
  5. A modified eye, punched eye ball. An eyebrow has been added to Example 3.
  6. The nostril on each has been enlarged.
  7. No attempt was made to remove the Indian's braid.
  8. The collars vary from one carving to another.
  9. The field behind the head has been smoothed or carved to obscure the feathers. LIBERTY remains intact.
  10. Examples 2 and 3 are on 1913 nickels, Example 1 is on a Type II Buffalo Nickel with the date removed.