[The following excerpt is published courtesy of DLRC Press and its author, Joyce Ann Romines. This information was originally published in 1996 in The Hobo Nickel]
Hobo Nickel Category Ratings and Average Prices Paid for Known or Like Examples as of January 20, 1996
CATEGORY RATING: Term used in lieu of RARITY. Since specific numbers of any type of carving is not known, the estimated rarity is combined with the collector demand or interest. After studying thousands of hobo nickels, the types of carvings, the quality of work, the estimated times required for each type of carving, the estimated numbers of coins in existence, and known prices realized through auctions and actual sales, the category rating system which follows was devised.
Before any coin can be certified in a specific category, it should be authenticated through a reputable authentication service (such as OHNS) which uses the general categories listed below.
This system is based on a rating of 1 to 5, with the smallest number (1) representing the least number known and when combined with collector interest, is called a “CATEGORY 1” coin. The largest number (5) represents the largest number known, or the most common, and when combined with collector interest, it is called a “CATEGORY 5” coin. A small case letter is used with the various general types of carvings within a specific category to further break down a general price structure, based on actual auctions and personal sales. For example, Category “2b” below denotes a carving by either “Bert” or “Bo.” To date, only two known and registered copies have been sold, one for $500.00, and the other for $750.00. Even though only two known copies have sold, it is estimated that there are 2,000 similar carvings in existence.
Supply and demand always dictate prices, and any of the listed prices below can change at any time. Even though the possibility does exist of someone uncovering a very large hoard, the author considers that chance to be very slim at the best. With the amount of publicity which the hobo nickels have received since 1981, only four large collections have been reported or uncovered. Of these four large collections, one collector is gradually liquidating his coins, and three others have turned a few copies loose over the past 15 years.
Short of listing every authentic coin known, it is impossible to list each minor difference into a specific category. As such, a little common sense and logic should be used when trying to categorize the various carvings. One major factor not used in the ratings was the amount of circulation on both the carved and uncarved sides. This was deliberately omitted as each carving will wear differently. As such, it is the responsibility of the purchaser to be satisfied with the actual grade of a carved coin. A highly worn coin commands considerably less than one which is pristine.
THE PRICING BOILS DOWN TO TWO MAJOR FACTORS: (1) EYE APPEAL, and (2) SATISFACTION OF THE PRICE BETWEEN THE SELLER AND THE BUYER. EACH INDIVIDUAL HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DETERMINING BOTH THE AUTHENTICITY AND VALUE OF ANY COIN PURCHASED. OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY AUTHENTICATORS ARE EXACTLY THAT, OPINIONS, AND IS NOT PROOF OF AUTHENTICITY, RARITY, OR VALUE. THE FINAL RESPONSIBILITY STILL RESTS ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE PURCHASER.
Since there are possibly hundreds of thousands of “Neo-bos” now in existence, they will not be considered in the ratings. Just as a general rule though, “neo-bos” should retail from about $1.00 to a maximum of $10.00. Only those carvings which are known and authenticated to be genuine hobo carvings are considered in the ratings. The final value of modern coins (neo-bos) will still depend upon the individuals buying and selling. (See note at end of categories):
THE INFORMATION ON THE NEXT PAGE WAS COMPILED BY JOYCE ANN ROMINES IN MARCH 1994, REVISED IN JANUARY 1996, AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. THE VALUES SHOWN BELOW ARE ACTUAL PRICE RANGES BASED ON KNOWN COPIES SOLD AND ESTIMATED MARKET VALUES BASED ON SIMILAR COPIES WHICH WERE SOLD, AND DO INCLUDE THE PAID AUTHENTICATION FEES OR BUYER’S FEES.