US Coins

Original Hobo Nickel Society holding 25th auction

If you have your dues paid up as a member of the Original Hobo Nickel Society, you can bid in the members-only auction beginning at 10 a.m. ET Jan. 7 during the Florida United Numismatists Convention in Fort Lauderdale.

The 96-lot offering is the OHNS’s 25th annual auction held in conjunction with the FUN convention, where the organization holds its annual meeting.

The annual auction is one of the busiest and best-attended auctions among specialty collector organizations. The earliest auctions included original carved Indian Head 5-cent coins that sold for a few hundred dollars at best, with total proceeds yielding a few thousand dollars.

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In recent years, however, some of those same pieces made during the 1920s through the 1950s by the most prominent and well-known hobo nickel carvers have individually yielded thousands of dollars.

During the 2013 OHNS auction, a double-sided carved Indian Head 5-cent coin fashioned in the late 1930s by the hands of renowned hobo George Washington “Bo” Hughes yielded $24,200.

The field of hobo nickels has expanded over the past two decades to include the works modern artists have executed with their own techniques as well as those employed by hobo nickel carving pioneers like Hughes.

The Jan. 7, 2017, OHNS auction includes two hobo nickels attributed to Hughes, one executed before a hand injury and the other, after.

On the pre-injury piece, the Indian Head portrait was transformed into a long-haired, bearded man on the obverse of the undated Indian Head, Bison on Plain 5-cent coin. The date 1920 is carved in Roman numerals below the portait.

The post-injury, circa 1957 Bo work was carved on the obverse of a 1936 Indian Head 5-cent coin, with the Indian's portrait transformed using a hand-punching tool into a circus clown.

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