ARMSTRONG ENGRAVING & CUSTOM JEWELRY
BEFOREAs an Engraver I work on many different items. Jewelry, trophies, knives and custom fly rod parts all cross my workbench. One of my favorite items to engrave is the Buffalo Nickel. Gangsters, clowns, soldiers and of course Hobos have all appeared on the obverse and sometimes reverse on my nickel carvings. Because Hobo Nickels are not as well-known as the other items I engrave, I am often asked a lot of questions. The question I am asked most frequently is "How do you carve a Hobo Nickel?"
To demonstrate, I have carved a nickel in Traditional Style. By traditional style I am carving my new Hobo Profile using the existing features of the Indian. I am not carving outside the original Indian profile border and I am leaving the coin field clean. The finished affect I am trying to achieve, is a Hobo Nickel carved so well that it appears it was made by the mint. It is this challenge that drives me to improve with every carving I do.
FIRSTI have selected a 1929 Buffalo Nickel. The nickel is in very good condition with the liberty, date and buffalo horn showing little wear. I start by carving the hat. I have chosen a bowler style hat with a hatband and bow. After I carve the hat I can visualize the way I want my Hobo to look.
ALMOST DONEMy Hobo is just about finished. Now it's time to give him some character and bring him to life. I add strands of hair, texture the hatband and bottom of collar. I remove any scratches from the carving and coin field, and tone for contrast. The finished result is a young, clean shaved Hobo. I named my Hobo carving "Billy Boy."
FINISHEDThis style is just one way to carve a Hobo Nickel. The possibilities are countless with all the different subjects and carving techniques. So although I answer many questions about Hobo Nickels, there is really only one question I ask myself. When I hold a nickel in my hand, I ask myself "Who do I see?"
Hover over an image on the right to see a description. As originally seen and written for
The Engravers Notebook - Who Do I see?