Exploring hobo nickel club’s 2021 token issues

The Original Hobo Nickel Society (OHNS) has issued its 2021 tokens with designs by renowned coin sculptor and die engraver Steve Adams, of Grove City, Pa.

Based in the United States, the OHNS has about 450 worldwide members, including dozens in Canada. The organization, which marks its 30th anniversary in 2022, has issued an annual token since its founding at the American Numismatic Association’s 1992 Summer Conference in Colorado.

The earliest OHNS tokens – then struck by Arkansas’ Gallery Mint Museum, headed by Ron Landis – were overstruck on regular U.S. nickels, “often with traces of the undertype visible,” according to a 2019 Heritage Auctions listing of 11 early tokens that brought $74 US (including premium).

This year’s token set includes copper and silver examples, 100 of which were produced in each metal. They feature the same vaccine-related design, showing a doctor and a caduceus (a modern symbol of logistics) on one side, which also includes the group’s name and the 2021 year-date. The word “LIBERTY,” a remnant of the undertype – a U.S. “Indian Head” nickel, also known as the “Buffalo” nickel – remains on the token. The other side shows a slightly startled-looking man about to receive a vaccine alongside the phrases “FREE VACCINATIONS TODAY / FIGHTING THE VACCINE  / HOBO TOKEN.”

The group’s 2020 and 2019 tokens, also designed by Adams, are also available.

OHNS 2020 token.

Considered a master die engraver and coin sculptor, Adams has “unmistakable” style, according to a 2021 Heritage lot description for three of his “remarkable” carvings that brought $432 US (including premium). His work regularly brings strong bidding at auction.

For the first time in two years, the OHNS will also host an official auction – its 29th since the first in 1995 – during the Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando, Fla. The Jan. 8 sale features classic and modern carvings, OHNS token dies, postcards and other related items. For a digital auction catalogue, visit hobonickels.org.

To read more about hobo nickels, see “Hobo nickels, a growing art form, ‘like meditation’ for carvers” and “Hobo nickels offer artistic outlet for carvers” in CCN Vol. 58 #16 and #21, respectively.

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