What Are Hobo Nickels?A Hobo Nickel is carved as opposed to engraved. The metal is cut away or pushed to create a miniature bas relief sculpture. During the Depression these coins were made by hoboes, itinerant workers, who often traveled by hopping freight trains. The hobo's tools were crude and consisted of awls, nails, pocket knives, a small hammer, screwdrivers, and even found pieces of metal which were manipulated into makeshift tools. A metal "punch" was also hammered into the coin to create a divot for an eye, an expanded nostril, or texture for hair.The Buffalo nickel was the most common host coin for the hobo nickel.The Buffalo nickel was available and circulating during the great depression. The large Indian head, with its fairly high relief, gave the artisan a lot of area to work with. The coin was a low enough denomination and not precious metal so it was affordable. Using these crude homemade tools, the hobo artisans re-carved the Indian. The most common theme is a man in a derby hat but there were also clowns, Rabbis, soldiers, other Indians, even women, and more.