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Introducing King Leer


By Art Del Favero HLM552, Stephen Alpert HLM11, Ralph Winter HLM37

Some years back, our editor Ralph Winter entered a submission into the "Three’s a Match Section" of our quarterly journal BoTales (examples 1 and 2). These two examples were quite distinct, as any collectors of "Classic Era" hobo nickels could see, and especially ones worth their salt. The artist had added some extra fancy devices leaving us with a look seldom seen in most finished products. So, there these two photos sat for many years just waiting for a match to finally show up.

As the O.H.N.S. archivist it is one of my self-imposed duties to facilitate securing a match or matches when needed for the purposes of nicknaming an artist. Fortunately, I happened to own the third specimen in this case, which doesn't always happen (example 3). The one I have was once a part of the now defunct Chris Dempsey date set, so needless to say I was proud to own it. The photos of the three coins were circulated to the voting body of five people and it was decided that they were works of the same artist.

One major deciding factor of the match confirmation was the treatment of the eye and the area around it. The artist did a lot of deep detail work which is very similar on all three versions. This heavy work made it look as if the subject was staring or fixed on a target with an intense Leer. As I mentioned, the other work on these examples is quite ornate in nature which made me think of the monarchs and their kingdoms of old. I suggested the name "King Leer" because of these factors, and it stuck.

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1 2 3

The carving characteristics for "King Leer" are as follows:

  1. Heavily enhanced eyes which create a gazing Leer.
  2. Area around eyes has been shaded and show what appears to be eye brows and lashes added to the lids.
  3. Hats showing shading with liner tool work, brim ends arched drastically downward and ornately engraved bands on first two specimens.
  4. Head and facial hair appears to be engraved in using a half circle pattern.
  5. None of the examples seem to have very visible or deliberate added ears.
  6. Cleaned up and shaded neck areas that lead into shoulders, with no real attempts to create a true collar.
  7. Profiles are enhanced from forehead downward leaving a slight divot at eye and a flattening of the front of nose, with all having enhanced nostril.
  8. Mouths have been engraved deeper with the moustache and area under the mouth worked in a way to also add to a deliberate and acquired look.
  9. Chins are closely cropped.
  10. Fields on the first two examples are wriggle cut removing LIBERTY.
  11. Dates and LIBERTY removed on first and second examples but left intact on third.
  12. Toning appears to be medium to dark.