Introducing Smiley

By Stephen Alpert LM10, Arturo DelFavero RM552

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I obtained my carving by “Smiley” at the 2004 F.U.N. show, where I paid $100 for it from an exonumia dealer. I illustrated the nickel on page 12 of the Fall 2004 BoTales (Volume 13, Issue No. 3), the novelty of it being the double-carved hat band and brim. The artist, who we are nicknaming “Smiley,” started carving the hat brim and band at far too shallow an angle; he then engraved them at a correct angle.

Recently Art discovered the other three hobo nickels carved by the same artist. One was lot 7 in the 2008 OHNS auction; one sold on eBay and the fourth was a member's hobo nickel submitted for OHNS quality designation in 1998. My specimen has a radially chisel-carved field, which the other three don't. But all four share the diagnostic features described below.

The carving characteristics for “Smiley” are listed as follows:

  1. Altered profile with a strong chin and enhanced nostril.
  2. A smile added to the mouth.
  3. A distinctive hat, with a finely-lined dome, bow on the hat band, and a straight hat brim with stubby ends.
  4. A double collar, with the braid still visible.
  5. A stickpin jewel at the front of the collar below the chin.
  6. A small engraved ear.
  7. The date is obliterated.