A couple issues ago, Alan Weinberg described an unusual item he encountered at the Whitman Baltimore coin show.
I neglected to mention what I examined at length at the Whitman show - undoubtedly the most intriguing and unusual numismatic-related item I'd seen in ages.
A mint state, superbly engraved huge, approx. 3 1/2" x 2" large Brazil nut on a halved Brazil nut stand. The upper portion exposing the white inner nut "meat" , approx. 2 1/2" x 2" , was a skillfully worked, cut and detailed image of a man's full face with detailed protruding teeth, sad eyes and an expression that initially impressed me as being an "Alice in Wonderland" character in the Disney feature film. The cartoonish facial expression was that close.
Turning the masterpiece of nut-engraving over, I noticed the carved- in signature on its base, a prominent JAB monogram dated 1905.
Alan said that author Neil Musante, an expert on the work of engraver John A. Bolen had verified the piece as the work of Bolen. I reached out to Neil, who provided an image of similar nut carvings from his book on Bolen. Thanks!
Regarding the nut carving, it is not a Brazil nut but a very hard nut called Tagua or something like that. I think the art has been around for a very long time. In his later years Bolen did quite a number of them. They are illustrated in my book on page 251 to 252. The illustrations on page 251 remained with Bolen’s great granddaughter and she allowed me to photograph them for the book. The nut that Alan saw on the floor was more like the ones illustrated on page 252 and I had never seen one of those until Baltimore. The JAB initials carved into the bottom were definitely Bolen’s monogram as I have a steel plate with that exact image if you will. The plate will be in the next Americana sale conducted by Stack’s Bowers.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
ENGRAVER JOHN BOLEN'S BRAZIL NUT CARVING
Wayne Homren, Editor
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