Introducing The Wriggler

By Marc Banks RM538 and Art DelFavero RM552

Identifying the artist of these three carvings was a little more challenging than is often the case. His known works to this point are of quite different characters, a WW1 soldier (see cover article in the summer 2019 Vol.28 of BoTales) and bearded men wearing tall, domed hats with long brims. The gold plated soldier carving was acquired by Arturo DelFavero in 2012 and is one of three known carvings with work on three surfaces (obverse, reverse and edge) as shown below. In 2019, I won a traditional bearded hobo carving on eBay that was also gold plated and also had a very similar collar and wriggle cut pattern across the jacket. Both Art and I were fairly certain these were the work of the same individual, but weren't able to find a third work needed to nickname this carver. Later in 2019, the third example was offered in a Heritage auction. This carving was not gold plated, but was a dead ringer for the one I had gotten on eBay. Although the carver had changed up his placement of the wriggle cut, across the fields rather than on the jacket, it also displayed the same shaped collar and the fine horizontal lines across the hat found on the other two examples. The three carving photos were sent to former QD examiner Stephen Alpert and BoTales editor Ralph Winter. Both agreed that they appeared to be the work of the same artist. We have nicknamed this unknown classic carver "The Wriggler" after his use of the wriggle cut design that led to his identification.

Click to view enlargment. Click to view enlargment.

Click to view enlargment.

Click to view enlargment. Click to view enlargment.

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

  1. All three carvings exhibit extensive use of a liner tool to create what is called a “wriggle cut” design, across the shoulder on Examples 1 and 2 and across the fields on the third example.
  2. A liner tool was also used to create fine lines across the helmet and hats. A “Florentine Finish” (vertical and horizontal lines) is used to decorate the hat and collar on Example 3.
  3. The tall hat band sits above a narrow brim on Examples 2 and 3. The brims share a strong resemblance to the bottom edge of the helmet on Example 1.
  4. Similar, boldly outlined, collar appears on all three carvings. A military emblem is engraved on Example 1. What appears to be a tie is at the front of the collar on the third example.
  5. Gold plating was applied to Examples 1 and 2.
  6. The Wriggler employed different techniques to create the hair (and mustaches and beards when present) straight hair created with a liner tool on Example 1; the point of a knife or similar too was used to form and facial hair Examples 2 and 3.
  7. Examples 2 and 3 exhibit alterations to the eye (including an eyebrow on Example 2) and modifications to the profile and mouth.
  8. Different techniques were employed to dress the fields: liner tool on Example 1; texturing on Example 2; and wriggle cut on Example 3.
  9. LIBERTY and date removed on all three carvings.