Introducing The Creeper

By Stephen Alpert HLM10, Joseph 'Spit' Scalamoni LM1578, Art DelFavero RM552

This nicknamed old hobo nickel carver was very talented and created very distinctive hobo nickels. His artwork consists of a strongly-altered profile and other facial features. There is no doubt that the three carvings illustrated here are by the same artist.

The first coin (#1) was obtained by Joseph Scalamoni in Pennsylvania. Steve Alpert purchased coin 2 off eBay earlier this year. And coin 3 was found by our curator Art DelFavero in the OHNS QD archive. Coin 3 is of lesser quality than the other two.

We sought to find some well-known person whom the carvings resemble. Some choices were Redd Foxx and Mike Tyson (of today). But Art came up with the best look-alike: 1930s-1940s B-movie horror star Rondo Hatton, who often played a character named The Creeper. So we decided to nickname this artist “The Creeper.” Hatton suffered from acromegaly, which distorted his facial features. You can see many pictures of him by googling “Images of Rondo Hatton.” A profile photo of him is illustrated. Note the similarity of his bulging forehead, lips, chin, etc. The faces of the carvings look rather menacing and creepy.

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

The carving characteristics for "The Creeper" are listed as follows:

  1. The hat dome is stippled, and there is no hat band.
  2. The hat brim is curved; the front points to the B of LIBERTY.
  3. The ear is bold with internal detail.
  4. Altered eye, with eyeball, eyebrow, and 3 wrinkle lines at back of eye.
  5. Protruding forehead and enlarged curved nose.
  6. Broadened lips.
  7. Strong jawline from chin to ear.
  8. Facial crease from left of nostril to left of mouth.
  9. Neck is smooth to lightly textured and defined in the front by a deep line.
  10. Area surrounding head is recessed, to enhance depth (on coins 1 and 2).
  11. The collar is shaped like a railroad spike (on coins 1 and 2).
  12. Made on early-date nickels (1913, 1914).