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    Hobo Nickel Silver Rounds

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    Collect All the Pieces in the Hobo Nickel Series at JM Bullion

    One of the most popular silver round collections released in recent years is the Hobo Nickel Series. The collection features unique designs on both the obverse and reverse of each round. Although the imagery differs with each new release, the concept behind each round in both the 2016 and 2017 releases focuses on the history behind so-called “hobo art.” The Hobo Nickels offer beauty, uniqueness, and variety to anyone buying silver. If you’re looking for something distinctive, consider the Hobo Nickel Series!

    Hobo Nickel Series #1

    The Hobo Nickel Series debuted in 2016 from HotCo and the Osborne Mint (Osborne Precious Metals). The 2016 Hobo Nickels included a total of five different designs. The silver rounds in this first series were closely derived from the original Buffalo Nickel designs by James Earle Fraser in circulation from 1913 to 1938. These coins were a favorite target of hobo artists in early 20th century America. The designs in the 2016 Hobo Nickel collection include:

    • Fisherman: The Fisherman is the first design and sticks closest to the original alterations made to Buffalo Nickels. The Hobo fisherman, captured in a similar right-profile relief as Fraser’s original Native American. The word “Liberty” is engraved in the same position as the original nickel, and a random year of issue of “1937” is engraved in the same position as Fraser’s nickel. The reverse features an equally unique take on Fraser’s design, with the back humps of a buffalo forming a distant mountain range on the opposite shore of a lake. In the foreground, a hobo fisherman is visible fishing from a rickety dock. Engravings include “United States of America,” “E Pluribus Unum,” and “Five Cents,” even though these rounds have no face value.
    • Train: The Train design marked the first significant departure from the Buffalo Nickel of Fraser. One side depicts a hobo walking alone with his worldly possessions in a knapsack slung over his shoulder. Viewed horizontally, the design actually reflects that of a buffalo as found on the original reverse of Buffalo Nickels. The obverse has a powerful steam locomotive on the tracks.
    • Skulls and Scrolls: The Skulls and Scrolls design offers two different takes on the obverse of the Buffalo Nickel. On one side is a skeletal figure in right-profile relief similar to the Buffalo Nickel, while the opposite side has the Fisherman in right-profile relief from the first design in the collection.
    • Green Fairy and Fishbones: The Fairy and Fishbones is another significant departure from the Buffalo Nickel as a basis of design. One side has a green fairy with an intoxicating beverage in one hand and the opposite side has the skeletal figure of a fish.
    • Jefferson Skull: Inspired by the 2005 US Jefferson Nickel coinage, the final design in the 2016 Hobo Nickel Series features another right-profile portrait of a skull on the obverse with a train rumbling along the reverse. The steam from the train reflects the broad outline of a buffalo.

    Hobo Nickel Series #2

    In 2017, a new set of five designs for the Hobo Nickel Series emerged with distinctly different inspirations than the 2016 Hobo Nickels. In addition to changes in the theme of 2017 Hobo Nickels, there were also changes to the availability and style in the program which is discussed in the next section. The design of 2017 Hobo Nickels includes the following:

    • Durer’s Knight: The debut design in the 2017 Hobo Nickel collection is an adaptation of Albrecht Durer’s “Knight, Death and the Devil.” The primary design puts Durer’s Knight from the 1513 design on a 1921 Morgan Silver Dollar and depicts the Knight’s bold walk through an otherworldly valley.
    • The Graveyard Shift: The vision of Death comes to life on this 2017 Hobo Nickel highlighting the toll a “graveyard shift” at work takes on the body. Death punches the timeclock on a headstone in the primary obverse design.
    • The Trains: A popular hobo art theme is that of trains. Not only did hobos ride the rails, but trains were part of the art deco designs many hobo artists eventually adopted. This release in the 2017 Hobo Nickels includes trains on both sides of the round.
    • Viking Berserker: Viking themes are popular on silver precious metals right now. The Viking berserker design focuses on the power and bravery of a Viking warrior in battle. It is said that certain elite Viking warriors would go “berserk” on the field of battle and seemed to possess not only inhuman power, but the ability to sustain wounds and keep fighting where other men may have been killed.
    • Jowls and His Pet Buffalo: Designed by Bill Jameson, the Mr. Jowls and His Pet Buffalo release is another design in the overall series that closely mirrors the themes of original hobo artwork. The obverse design features a left-profile portrait of a heavy-set individual with big jowls and a scruffy beard. He wears a bowler cap with the word “Liberty” and a commemorative “1936” date mark engraved. The reverse is nearly identical to the iconic American bison design, but with the head of the buffalo replaced by that of a bearded man also wearing a bowler cap.

    A Unique Release

    Added just in time for Halloween, the Nightmares of the Fall silver round release was a special addition to the second Hobo Nickel Series that featured elements excellently paired with the autumn theme. The Nightmares of the Fall design features a close image of a skull with a spider web in one eye and a bat flying across the moon in the other eye. Flip it over, and there is a ghoulish tree ready to trap anyone who happens by on the other side.

    Differences in the Hobo Nickel Series

    There are some critical differences between the silver round designs of Hobo Nickel Series #1 releases and the silver rounds of the Hobo Nickel Series #2 collection. Most notably, the artist behind the 10 designs in total in the series. All of the 2016 Hobo Nickels were designed by famed artist Paolo Curcio. Known as Mr. The, his original carvings feature on the obverse and reverse of all the designs in the 2016 Hobo Nickels. The designs in 2016 were also available on 1 oz silver proofs with a mintage of 10,000 rounds, 1 oz antique proofs with a mintage of 1,000 rounds, and 5 oz antique proofs with a mintage of 1,000 rounds.

    Fast forward to the 2017 Hobo Nickels, and a few important factors changed. First and foremost, each of the five designs were created by different artists. The following are the artists and their designs in the 2017 Hobo Nickels:

    • Roman Booteen – Durer’s Knight
    • Chris DeFlorentis – Graveyard Shift
    • Steve Adams – The Trains
    • Aleksey Saburov – Viking Berserker
    • Aleksey Saburov – Nightmares of the Fall

    Additionally, the 2017 Hobo Nickels had lower mintage figures and one less option for buyers. The 1 oz proof silver rounds are not an option in the 2017 Hobo Nickels, but the 1 oz and 5 oz silver antique options remain. Mintage figures were down to 5,000 for the 1 oz rounds and 2,500 for the 5 oz rounds. The lone exception was the final release of the Nightmares of the Fall design, which is available only in 1 oz antique silver with a mintage of 1,500 rounds.

    Similarities in Hobo Nickels

    Both the first series of Hobo Nickels and second series Hobo Nickels had hand-scraped antique finishes that lend the visual appeal of ancient coinage. The rounds are all available with .999 pure silver content, edge-lettered serial numbers, and ship inside of clear, plastic Air-Tite capsules.

    Brands behind the Hobo Nickels

    The Hobo Nickels are a collaboration between Heads or Tales Coins, a unique precious metals design shop. The Osborne Mint, America’s oldest-operating private mint which can trace its roots back to 1835, handles the production of the Hobo Nickels.

    History of Hobo Artwork

    Hobo artwork on coinage began as early as the 1750s, with British sailors and merchants altering pennies while spending long weeks and months at sea. Prominent hobo art during the 18th and early 19th centuries could be found in Britain, France, and South Africa outside the United States. In the 20th century, the term “hobo nickel” was coined because the Buffalo Nickel of the United States was popular among hobos in North America. The coin was popular for its size, thickness, and relative softness, all of which made it the ideal format for hobo art on coinage.

    Buying Hobo Nickels from JM Bullion

    If you’re looking to buy silver from the Hobo Nickels collections, JM Bullion customer service can help you out. Feel free to reach out to us at 800-276-6508, chat with us live online, or simply send us an email.