Introducing Willie Wideneck

By Stephen Alpert LM10

Last November (2009) I purchased on eBay the hobo nickel shown here (with the shading above the hat). I already had a carving by this same carver (no shading, darker beard) that I purchased in 2003. Both works have a large hat, high collar, and a very wide neck. Art DelFavero found a third specimen (strongly checkered coat) in a July 1995 BoTales article (reprinted in the Fall 2008 BoTales) by Jeff Daniher. Jeff's nickel is pictured below on the right.

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

My 2009 specimen (on a VG nickel) was bought for $227.50 from a seller in Pennsylvania. My 2003 specimen (on an XF nickel) was also purchased on eBay, for $117.50, from a seller in Florida. Jeff's nickel was a gift from a neighbor. She was given it around the end of the Depression by a hobo in appreciation for food and being allowed to sleep in her parents' barn. That hobo said he was given the nickel by a man (another hobo?) named Willie whom he had helped. (See the BoTales article for the full story.) Thus I am nicknaming this old unknown artist "Willie Wideneck."

The carving characteristics for "Willie Wideneck" are as follows:

  1. A large hat, with a long downward-curved pointy-ended brim. The back of the brim lies on the shoulder.
  2. The hat band has a faint bow.
  3. The ear has internal detail, and touches or overlaps the hat brim.
  4. The nose is rounded.
  5. The beard, hair, and mustache are formed by overlapping zigzag wriggle cuts.
  6. The field is smoothly dressed. Wriggle cuts create the shading above the hat on one specimen.
  7. LIBERTY is removed.
  8. A high collar covers the neck, up to the chin, jaw line, or ear.
  9. A liner tool was used on the dome of the hat, and the coat shoulder area. The date is obliterated.
  10. The neck is very wide.
  11. Artistic quality is Above Average.