Introducing Sad Sack

By Marc Banks RM538, Arturo DelFavero RM552 and Don Wolfe RM981

A typical hobo nickel (1) depicting a bearded man wearing a domed hat was among a group of hobo nickels I purchased about four years ago. Below the brim of the hat were frown lines across the forehead. What caught my attentions was that the artist had intentionally outlined the hairline at the back of the head. I started watching for carvings with a similar hairline. A couple years went by before a very similar carving (2) was offered on eBay. It was won by Don Wolfe. This October (2017) another example clearly by the same artist was listed on eBay. That auction was won by OHNS archivist Art DelFavero. Art also located a fourth specimen (4) while searching the archives. I have named the unknown carver of these nickels with the frown lines and expressionless look "Sad Sack".

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

The carving characteristics for "Sad Sack" are as follows:

  1. Outline hairline at rear of the head on all examples to date.
  2. Frown lines across the forehead.
  3. The hats have a high crown accented with fine horizontal lines, a narrow brim pointed on the both ends and a bow at the center of the brim. The brim crosses through the L in LIBERTY on all four examples.
  4. Small engraved ears with minor variation in shape and size.
  5. Fine lines for hair, circular punch marks form the beard and moustache. Punching doesn’t entirely cover the mouth leaving the lips partially visible.
  6. No collar, bare neck above shoulder. Some accent lines across shoulder.
  7. Unaltered profile.
  8. The field behind the head is cleanly dressed.
  9. Date removed, LIBERTY left intact with the exception of the L.