Introducing The Charmer

By Stephen Alpert LM10, Art DelFavero RM552

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I [SA] believe that this artist that we are nicknaming “The Charmer” was probably a later hobo nickel carver, working maybe in the 1930s to 1940s. All three known specimens have the date removed, but the style is unlike that of early carvers, being a simplified rendition of the standard design hobo nickel (bearded man wearing derby). “The Charmer” apparently smoothed the surface of the nickel (except the face and maybe LIBERTY) before engraving the derby, ear, hair, and collars using thin neat grooves.

He carved a distinctive C-shaped ear, and holed the coin at the top. I had submitted pictures of the two specimens in my collection to BoTales' new “Three's A Match” feature; but before it was to be published in this issue, eagle-eyed Art spotted a third specimen that was in OHNS's Sixth Auction in 1998. Art suggested the name “The Charmer” because of the hole at the top, apparently made so the hobo nickel could be put on a charm bracelet or worn in some other manner.

The first specimen I obtained (the one with the taller-domed hat and no LIBERTY) was purchased in May 1996 at the Long Beach Calif. Coin Expo, for $40. My other specimen (shallow dome, with LIBERTY) was purchased on eBay in May of 1998, for $52.

The third specimen spotted by Art was lot 34 of our Auction 6 (Jan. 1998), and sold for $160 to a mail bidder. It was authenticated by Del Romines (who rated it Superior) and Bill Fivaz (Above Average). I believe that Bill's rating is more in line with our quality scale.

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

  1. A C-shaped carved ear.
  2. A hole at the top of the obverse.
  3. All design features made with thin grooves.
  4. A simple derby hat, with a wide hat band with a bow in the center and a thin line for a hat brim, curved or angled upward at the ends.
  5. Parallel grooves form the hair, beard, and mustache.
  6. A smooth field at the left, hat dome, neck, and shoulder (all smoothed out before the engraving).
  7. A double collar.
  8. The profile is unaltered.
  9. LIBERTY may be removed.