Vandalism? or art? This tee features a modern design based on a 2005 Thomas Jefferson nickel that was carved away by an unknown artist to reveal the Founding Father's smiling skull!
This piece was done in imitation of the classic American art of Hobo Nickels with a modern twist. The art form--a sort of bas relief sculpturing--turned real coins into unique pieces that were either slipped back into circulation or bought up by coin collectors. The Hobo nickname came from their popularity among drifters as an inexpensive, quick and relatively easy way to earn a few bucks. It is true that a lot of coins were used--and the practice of defacing coins predates the 1900s--but the nickel was a favorite for its size and density. Originally, most Hobo Nickels were carved into Buffalo Nickels because the Indian Head offered more space to be carved with the profile taking up so much room on the coin.
When Jefferson's face took over and the Buffalo nickel almost completely disappeared from circulation, the few artists still practicing switched over and kept going up to the 1980s. Collectors think that some 100,000 to 200,000 Hobo nickels were made in the classic period before modern copycats and true craftsman picked up the habit again and have surpassed in quantity. Hippies, pizza chefs, firemen, Chinese women, Albert Einstein, Uncle Same, Dick Tracy and human skulls have all been carved into the face of countless nickels.
It seems fitting that Jefferson should become the portrait of choice for a creative form of currency vandalism and personal enterprise, after all the 3rd President of the United States and primary author of the Declaration of Independence once said that "...banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies."