The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 39, September 24, 2017, Article 21


The Fall 2017 issue of Bo Tales, the official publication of the Original Hobo Nickel Society has a nice article by Carol Bastable about modern coin carver Chris DeFlorentis. Editor Ralph Winter kindly forwarded a copy so I could publish this excerpt here. Thanks. It's always fascinating to read he stories of coin engravers and how they got their starts. -Editor

Hobo Nickel carver Chris DeFlorentis Many of us came to know Chris DeFlorentis through the OHNS Facebook page. As an active participant on the site, DeFlorentis also served as an admin for a time. He also felt there should be a website devoted to documenting modern carvers and began a Pinterest hobo nickel registry under the name Chris DeChristo. However it was not until he retired from his job and moved to Tennessee that he made the trek to the FUN show where face to face contact was made by those attending.

Prior to getting involved with hobo nickels, DeFlorentis was an error coin collector. He started that journey when his father had passed away and left him some error coins. While searching for error coins he stumbled on hobo nickels and found them interesting. DeFlorentis said that a Bill Zach carving was the first real quality coin that he added to his collection and has been a fan of his work ever since. He was impressed with the fine finish work and ultra-smooth fields which gave the carvings a "minted look". DeFlorentis was similarly enamored with the work of Steve Adams, Ron Landis, Aleksey Saburov, and Paolo Curcio.

Hobo Nickel 1 by Chris DeFlorentis Hobo Nickel 2 by Chris DeFlorentis

Once DeFlorentis decided that he wanted to go beyond collecting and start carving coins himself, he strove for the high quality that he appreciated in Zach's carvings. It was challenging and DeFlorentis was very critical. He admits to being obsessive compulsive and he strove for an ideal of quality he felt was possible…..a level he saw in other great carver's work. As a novice carver it was at times an emotional challenge as well.

DeFlorentis started carving with exacto knives, screwdrivers, and various chemicals until he got a care package from Larry Foster that included a "V" graver and a flat graver. To this day he uses the flat graver on every coin he carves. He calls that graver his "Lucky Larry" graver and is very sentimental about it.

His next aid came from Steve Cox who lived near him. DeFlorentis purchased a Cox carving on eBay and asked if he could stop by the studio to pick it up. The two chatted and DeFlorentis was shown around. He got to try out a Lindsay, engraving ball, and microscope for the first time and made a hobo nickel with Cox jointly doing some carving instruction/demonstrating on the nickel. It was not long before DeFlorentis purchased his own engraving ball, air graver, and scope. Coincidentally the scope came from Cox and joined the Lucky Larry graver in his sentimental tools collection.

Hobo Nickel by Chris DeFlorentis detail 2 Hobo Nickel by Chris DeFlorentis detail 1
Check out some of the details!

DeFlorentis says that he spends equal time between his Lindsay graver and hand push gravers. He also uses a rotary for smoothing out, undercutting, removing bulk, and burnishing. He says of the undercuts that he likes how they add shadow and dimension. Commissioned subjects have also pushed DeFlorentis to carve more complex designs. One of his favorite carvings was a samurai requested by Don Berry. These days DeFlorentis is retired and regularly carves however, one coin carving can take him up to four months to finish as excellence is a driving force in his art. To date he has finished twenty- five or so carvings and has exceeded that number in friendships with fellow carvers and collectors.

DeFlorentis' work is impressive. While some numismatists may dismiss Hobo nickel carvings and other post-minting alterations as mere damaged coins, the talent of many of these artists is unmistakable, and high prices are justified for the effort and expertise involved in their creation.

And thanks to Dick Johnson's earlier article, we know what an engraver's ball is! -Editor

To read the complete article, see:

For more information on the Original Hobo Nickel Society, see:

Wayne Homren, Editor

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