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The HOBO NICKEL (Dollar)

newmisty

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#1
It was a ragingly popular post that was made toward the end of GIM. The strange image was an old peace dollar displaying something very unique and interesting. Turns out it was no longer a Peace Dollar but had somehow become a "hobo dollar". The stoic face of the former liberty now a mesmerizing skeletal form with flowing hair. This was my first introduction to the world of HOBO NICKELS and it wouldn't be topped by any of the carvings I have seen since. It isn't known if that talented member ever made it over here, but this thread is a small memorial to that long lost thread and the first seed to be planted at resurrecting the cult like art form.


Did anyone save the picture of that Hobo Dollar from the old thread? I wasn't able to find it but added a small collection here to help rekindle the HOBO flame. :) Sorry for the large pics.




















 

newmisty

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#3
Thanks man, that be the one!
 

birddog

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#4
Wow... that is cool....

Lib RIP.... In Gov we trust.


Well done.
 

newmisty

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#5







 

ctrl-z

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#6
Wow, those are incredible, where do I get some? I have no artistic ability so making them is out of the question.
 

Professur

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#7
Gotta be easier to carve silver than nickel
 

Usury

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#8
Those are impressive....thank you for sharing. If I saw one on the street prior to this I would've assumed it to be fake or trash. Now I'm wondering where I might find something like this. Anyone have any ideas?
 

newmisty

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#9
I've seen a few nice ones at auction but usually at high prices. Maybe some coin shows would net some results.
 

HoldingAg

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#10
WOW! Thanks for sharing this awesome thread with us! How do they make these things? Anyone know anything more about them? So history or the methodology of making one?

Thanks for this mangus!

HoldingAg
 

Solo

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#11
From Wiki

The hobo nickel is a sculptural art form involving the creative modification of small-denomination coins, essentially resulting in miniature bas reliefs. The nickel, because of its size, thickness, and relative softness, was a favored coin for this purpose. However, the term "hobo nickel" is generic, as carvings have been made from many different denominations.
Due to its low cost and portability, this medium was particularly popular among hobos, hence the name.

Early altered coins (1750s-1813)
The altering of coins dates to the 18th century or earlier. Beginning in the 1750s, the most common form of coin alteration was the "potty coin," engraved on United States Seated Liberty coinage (half dime through trade dollar). This time period was also the heyday of the love token, which was made by machine-smoothing a coin (usually silver) on one or both sides, then engraving it with initials, monograms, names, scenes, etc., often with an ornate border. Hundreds of thousands of coins were altered in this manner. They were often mounted on pins or incorporated into bracelets and necklaces. The love token fad faded out in the early 20th century; love tokens engraved on buffalo nickels are rare.
During this time period, hobo-style coin alteration could be found outside the United States, primarily in Britain, France, and South Africa.

The Buffalo Nickel
When the Indian Head or Buffalo nickel was introduced in 1913, it became popular among coin engravers. The big Indian head was a radical departure from previous designs, and would not be seen on any subsequent coins. The large, thick profile gave the artists a larger template to work on, and allowed for finer detail.
On earlier coins, the head was much smaller in relation to the size of the coin. For example, on a Lincoln cent, the head covers about one-sixth of the area. On the Buffalo nickel, the Indian's head occupies about five-sixths of the area. Moreover, the nickel is a larger coin. Large heads were sometimes found on earlier coins, such as the Morgan dollar and the Columbian half dollar commemoratives of 1892-3, but these coins were rarely altered because of their high value.
Another factor contributing to the Buffalo nickel's popularity was the sex of the subject. Nearly all previous coins had depicted women (Liberty head nickels, Indian head cents, Barber and Morgan silver dollars). A male head has larger, coarser features (nose, chin, brow) that can be altered in many ways. Even the buffalo on the reverse could be changed into another animal or a man with a backpack.

Classic old hobo nickels (1913-1940)
Many talented coin engravers, as well as newcomers, started creating hobo nickels in 1913, when the buffalo nickel entered circulation. This accounts for the quality and variety of engraving styles found on carved 1913 nickels. More classic old hobo nickels were made from 1913-dated nickels than any other pre-1930s date.
Many artists made hobo nickels from the tens to twenties, with new artists joining in as the years went by. The 1930s saw many talented artists adopting the medium. Bertram Wiegand, known almost exclusively as Bert, began carving nickels in the teens, and his student George Washington Hughes, known as Bo, began carving in the late teens (and up to 1980). During this period, buffalo nickels were the most common nickels in circulation.

Later old hobo nickels (1940-1980)
The forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies were a transitional period for hobo coin engravers, during which the buffalo nickel was gradually replaced by the Jefferson nickel. Some veteran old nickel carvers such as Bo and Bert continued making hobo nickels in the classic old style. Bo in fact did his best work in the early 1950s when he carved many spectacular cameo portrait hobo nickels.
During this 40-year period, many new carvers appeared, and style and subject matter became decidedly modern. Subjects became more ethnically and socially diverse (i.e. a Chinese woman with triangular hat, hippies with long hair and glasses, men wearing floppy hats, etc.). Some of these new artists used new techniques such as power engravers, vibrating tools, and felt marker pens to add color to hair.
By the end of the seventies, most buffalo nickels had disappeared from circulation, and the majority of engravings were performed on worn coins. Bo, for example, was forced to obtain buffalo nickels from coin dealers, some of whom commissioned carvings.

Modern hobo nickels (1980-present)
Many carvers who were active during the 1960s and 1970s continued carving buffalo nickels into the 1980s. Their coins were altered using punches (dashes, dots, arcs, crescents, stars) and some carving of the profile. The area behind the head is usually rough from dressing with a power tool. They created standard design hobo nickels (derby and beard), as well as many modern subjects, such as occupational busts (fireman, railroad engineer, pizza chef), famous people (Uncle Sam, Einstein), hippies, and others.
A major event occurred in the early 1980s, demarcating the transition from "old" to "modern" hobo nickels. This was the publication of a series of articles by numismatist Del Romines, on the subject of hobo nickels. He soon published the first book on the subject, Hobo Nickels (ASIN B0006R7SFW), in 1982. Both centered on Bo and his carvings.
This resulted in some new artists entering the field, most of whom simply copied Bo's nickel artwork from the illustrations in Romines' book. The two major Bo-style copycats were John Dorusa and Frank Brazzell. Together they produced 20,000 or more modern carved nickels, most of which were copies of Bo's designs. Dorusa even copied Bo's "GH" signature (for "George Washington Hughes") on many of this early creations. Pressure from prominent hobo nickel collectors such as Bill Fivaz convinced Dorusa to stop carving "GH" and put his own initials or name on his works. Dorusa and Brazzell also produced original works, featuring non-traditional subject matter (conquistadors, Dick Tracy, skulls, etc.) The large number of Bo copies led many collectors to label all modern carved nickels as "Neo-Bo's", a term no longer in use.
Other carvers also appeared in the 1980s and 1990s, introducing more modern subject matter (cartoon characters, witches, and animals). Most nickel carvers of the 1980s to mid 1990s are regarded by collectors as mediocre at best. But circa 1995, Ron Landis, an engraver in Arkansas, began creating superior quality carvings.
For about four years Landis was the only nickel carver creating superior carvings, at the rate of only one to two dozen per year (all signed, numbered, and dated). Many other professional engravers have since begun creating hobo nickels.
Some current prolific carvers are converting from quantity to quality: making fewer pieces of high artistic quality (as the market is flooded with lower quality quickly-made carvings). Modern carvings of Superior quality sell for about the same prices as classic old original carvings of equal quality by unknown artists.

The Original Hobo Nickel Society
The Original Hobo Nickel Society (OHNS) was created in 1992 for collectors primarily interested in classic old carved nickels. Nice classic old hobo nickels that were worth about $10 to $50 each in the 1980s rose in value to about $100 to $1000 each by the mid-1990s (prices have come down since then except for the top-quality works).
From the early 1980s to present, modern lesser-quality carvings could and still can be purchased for as little as $5 to $10 each. Many new collectors found it hard to obtain good quality old original hobo nickels (as they are so scarce and costly) so they began collecting the readily obtainable and cheap modern works.
Some OHNS Board members have expressed concern that too much emphasis is given to modern carvings and the artists making them and that proportionately too many modern pieces are appearing in recent OHNS auctions. Information is much more readily available for modern carvers and their creations than pertaining to classic old hobo nickel artists.
About 100,000 (and possibly as many as 200,000) classic hobo nickels were created from 1913 to 1980. Modern artists have created (and continue to create) altered nickels in such large quantities that, within the next few years, the number of modern carvings is expected to surpass that of classic old hobo nickels. Most of the 100,000-plus classic old hobo nickels are not yet in the hands of collectors, whereas almost all modern carvings are. Among numismatists, the modern carvings already greatly outnumber the classic old hobo nickels.
 

newmisty

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#13
That's a neat one.
 

Silver Art

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#14
Hey Newmisty,

Thanks for telling me about this thread. Since you had a Hobo nickel thread here on GIM2 first, I went ahead and deleted my Hobo Nickel thread that was located in the Base Metals subforum. Your Hobo Nickel thread is better than the Hobo Nickel thread that I started. I will post a few of my Hobo Nickels on this thread.


Here is the first Hobo Nickel that I bought from a my main coin dealer for $25 last year..................







Here are some Hobo Nickels that I bought on ebay.................................



























Here is a Harley Hobo that I bought at a coin show last year. I think that I paid $40 for it.............







Here is another one that I bought at a different coin show. I paid $8 for this one. I will call this one The Pimp. :)







Here is one that I bought at a flea market. I guess it is safe to say that nickel is a DOG. :)







I have more hobo nickels than what I posted on this thread. These are some of the ones that I like the most. Whenever I find and buy more hobo nickels in the future, then I will post some random pics of some of those purchases on this thread. I love hobo nickels for the same reason that I love silver art bars. That reason is because the artwork is very nice and that appeals to me. Someone introduced me to hobo nickels a year ago and I started buying shortly afterward.
 
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Silver Art

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#15
I also bought a book that might be helpful to people who might be interested in collecting hobo nickels. Here is what that book looks like:



I bought this book on Amazon but I think that there are other online places such as ebay that might have this same book but you will have to do a search for it.

Here is an organization that caters to Hobo Nickel collectors:

http://www.hobonickels.org/
 

Ragnarok

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#16
If things keep going the way they are, we'll be seeing "Hobama" nickels. :biggrin:

R.
 

newmisty

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#17
That looks just like Willie Nelson!

HarleyHoboFront.jpg