Introducing Prince

By Stephen Alpert LM102

The three classic old hobo nickels pictured below depict a very well-dressed man, someone who looks regal or was in high society. The large hats and collars are very ornate. I am nicknaming this unknown artist "Prince" based on his portrayal of princely figures. The first example I own and is pictured in the OHNS Guidebook on page 21. Chris Dempsey owns the second specimen, on a 1927 nickel, and Ralph Winter owns the third specimen, also on a 1927 nickel.

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

The carving characteristics for "Prince" are as follows:

  1. A large, tall derby hat, with a stippled or grained texture on the dome.
  2. A wide hatband, with a large ornate bow in the center.
  3. A thinner hat brim, curved a bit downwards at the ends, and not projecting far beyond the band.
  4. The ear is in the center of the coin and is C-shaped or almost so, with some internal detail.
  5. The hair-beard-mustache was formed using a circular punch. The beard extends a bit past the chin onto the field.
  6. The profile has an altered nose and nostril.
  7. The eye is altered on two of the specimens, with a small punch for the eyeball and some vertical cuts above to form a faint eyebrow.
  8. The shirt collar is tall and open in the front, with two triangular flaps.
  9. A circular button or round piece of jewelry is at the base of the open shirt collar on two of the coins.
  10. The coat collar below varies from ornate to simple; the collars may be lightly peened.
  11. The field is not that well dressed, with stippling on two of the specimens.
  12. Found so far on mid-dated buffalo nickels (the 2 dated pieces are 1927).