Introducing The Shadow

By Marc Banks RM538, Chris Dempsey LM64, Arturo DelFavero RM552

About six years ago I purchased a group of classic hobo nickels. Among these was a distinctive carving (1) of man wearing a domed hat that appear a little too big for his head, it sits down over the top of his ear and low over the forehead. This character had carved hair and a stubbly punched beard. Friend and fellow collector Chris Dempsey purchased a second work (2) by this same unknown carver some time later sporting the same hat with a large bow at the center of a wide band and long pointed brim, facial hair and tall collar. We tucked these carvings away and waited to see if a third match would appear. It was a long wait, but our friend and OHNS Archivist Art DelFavero recently (2019) won an unmistakable third example (3) on eBay. What struck all of us was the stubbly beard that looked like a "five o'clock shadow", thus we are naming the talented artist of these three carvings "The Shadow."

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

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

  1. Carved hair and stubbly moustache and beard. The latter gives the impression of a 5 o'clock shadow.
  2. Large domed hat with a wide band, large bow and long pointed brim. The front brim passes through the "E" in LIBERTY.
  3. The hat sits down over the top of the ear.
  4. The ear is slanted back. Examples 1 and 2 display interior detail.
  5. Slight modifications to the nose. The chin has been blunted and the jaw line straightened.
  6. A tall collar sits above the shoulder and reaches to the bottom of the hairline and beard.
  7. Fields are recessed and well dressed. LIBERTY is left intact.
  8. Darkened hair and beard give the carving excellent contrast.
  9. The three examples are dated 1916 through 1918.