Introducing The Body

By Stephen Alpert LM10

You may be wondering why I chose the nickname "The Body" for the classic hobo nickel artist who carved the three pieces illustrated below. The first specimen (1918) I obtained from the Jan. 1997 OHNS auction, lot 14. I bought it mainly because I thought it resembled the wrestler Jesse "The Body" Ventura (who wore a similar-looking beard back then; this predates his stint as Governor of Minnesota, and current conspiracy advocate). This same specimen appears in Bill Fivaz's hobo nickel slide show.

The second specimen (1915) appears in the first Bo Tales issue of 2016 as one of two stolen hobo nickels. And our faithful OHNS archivist Art DelFavero found the third match (1929). All the carvings depict a similar looking man with a distinctive hat, ear, beard, and smile. Most of the features may have been pocket knife cut.

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

The carving characteristics for "The Body" are as follows:

  1. A derby with a thin nearly-straight brim, touching the B of Liberty.
  2. A wide hat band with a large bow over the ear. The top points of the bow project a bit higher that the top of the band.
  3. The dome of the hat is textured with fine mostly horizontal lines.
  4. The ears are oval, with internal details.
  5. The eye is enhanced and an eyebrow is added.
  6. The hair, beard, and mustache are neatly formed by fine cuts. The beard is pointed.
  7. The profile appears unaltered except for the thick lips and slight smile or smirk.
  8. The neck is smooth below the ear and beard.
  9. The shirt collar has a necktie at the front.
  10. The coat is checkered or lined.
  11. The field is smoothly dressed.
  12. Liberty remains (unsure on the second specimen due to glare on photo).
  13. Known coin dates are mid-teens to 1920s; artistic quality is Above Average.