Hobo nickel is a term used to describe the 18th century sculptural art form of hand-engraving coins, resulting in miniature bas-relief sculptures that you can hold in the palm of your hand. While the ancient art is rarely practised today, Russian artist Roman Booteen keeps the craft alive with his extraordinary coin carving designs. From a Gold Bug coin with mechanical wings to a coin with changeable faces, his work often features clever, integrated mechanisms that allow parts of the metal designs to move.
Booteen’s latest piece is no exception—it features a central golden heart that actually beats. With anatomically correct proportions and intricately carved veins, Booten’s heart-themed coin is already impressive as an unmoving sculpture. However, once the user starts turning the small cog at the bottom of the one dollar coin, the metal components come to life, mimicking a real heart beat.
Check out the incredible hobo nickel design below and see more from Booten’s portfolio on Instagram. If you love his coin designs, keep an eye on the artists eBay page for a chance to acquire one of his works.