Introducing The Hatter

By Marc Banks RM 538

In January I won one of the carvings (1) offered in the 2015 OHNS Auction. It depicted the traditional subject, a bearded man wearing a hat. What stood out about this nickel was the overall high degree of workmanship, particularly in the hat with a turned up three-dimensional brim. I remembered a similar nickel (2) with a matching hat and collar had been sold in the 2007 Heritage Auction held at the FUN Show. After a little searching through the OHNS web site, I located a third carving (3) with the distinctive hat. However, the elaborate collar was absent on this example. OHNS archivist "Cinco" DelFavero located yet another example (4) of this carver's work, also without a collar, in the OHNS archives. All four carvings exhibit finely punched hair and full beards. It appears the latter two carvings are either earlier or more quickly prepared works. I am naming this carver "The Hatter" for his attention to detail on the hat on each of the four carvings.

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

  1. The essential characteristic is the skillfully carved hat with a rounded crown and a three dimensional brim that is rolled up on the side.
  2. The angle of the hat varies from example to example, being more tilted on 1 and 3, the brim sits above the L on LIBERTY on 1 and 3 and above the B on 2 and 4.
  3. Three of the examples display a partially visible bow just back of the center of the hat, the other carving (2) shows the end of a bow obscured by the turned up brim.
  4. All the examples have punched hair and beards done with a small rounded punch, the hair and beard, the beard creates an open area around the mouth on 1-3.
  5. The ears are enclosed between the hair and beard, although they differ slightly from one another, all examples have a center depression (two in the case of #1).
  6. The profile is essentially unaltered, the eye is unmodified; The shirt and jacket collars on examples 1 and 2 are deeply carved and nicely detailed with a button hole on the lapel.
  7. The fields are cleanly dressed; the three carvings with dates are carved on early buffalo nickels (1913 and 1916?).