“They were hobos, and with every word they uttered… it spelled adventure.” – Jack London
So it is, the wandering workers of the 18th and 19th century, romanticized for a life of open road, or open rails. Many songs and book characters have been inspired by the lifestyle over the years, and a special coin series is now paying tribute to the ramblin’ men of early America: five Silver Hobo Nickel replicas designed by artist Paolo Curcio.
Altering coins has been a longstanding form of art and cultural critique, but hobo nickels really took off when the U.S. Mint introduced the Buffalo Nickel in 1913. The coin’s size and the Indian’s larger portrait made it a perfect canvas for traveling workers to pass time whittling away new images. The handcrafted, sculpted designs often reflected the political and economic times, with thousands of unique variations. Now a rarity, hobo nickels have gone from the poor man’s bindle to numismatic auctions and dealers as one-of-a-kind collector’s pieces.
Unaltered 1913 Buffalo Nickel Various Altered Buffalo Nickels
The Silver Hobo Nickel replica series honors this distinct bit of Americana tradition. Each round is crafted from .999 fine Silver, edge-marked with a unique production number and encapsulated for long-term preservation. The designs feature both classic hobo and modern imagery, a reflection of the hundred years of change since hobo nickels gained momentum.
The series includes:
1. The Fisherman
2. The Train
3. Skulls & Scrolls
4. Green Fairy & Fish Bones
5. Jefferson Skull Scroll
The Fisherman was released January 26 and a new round will be released every two months. With only 10,000 rounds minted for each fascinating design, they will be rollin’ down the line and into collections quickly.
The artist behind these exquisite designs, a man known as Mr. The, created his original carving over two days at the Original Hobo Nickel Society’s booth during the Florida United Numismatists convention in Orlando. The original carvings included an inlaid 24k Gold cigarette and a copper fishing rod. You can view a series of videos showing the carving of the design.
Mr. The is based in Spain and is known throughout the carving world for his intricate designs, including 40 to 70 Hobo Nickel carvings each year. On his Silver Hobo Nickel website, you can watch videos of his engraving process of The Fisherman. This unique design is now available at APMEX!