Artist Hand-Engraves International Coins with Floral Scroll Motifs


Carrying on the tradition of the hobo nickel, a sculptural art form that transforms small currency coins, artist Shaun Hughes has blown us away with his delicate hand engraving. The art of the hobo nickel has been in practice since the 18th century, when artists began using coins as a form of expression. Especially popular in the United States, the Buffalo nickel was a favorite for artists, as its thickness allowed for finer detail.

The UK-based Hughes is part of an increasing wave of contemporary carvers who have helped revive the practice of currency carving after a decline in the 1980s. While he engraves a variety of forms into currency, we're especially keen on the floral scrollwork that defines the majority of his oeuvre. Twisting through the portraits or creeping into the backgrounds, the fine lines give the currency new depth. With incredible detail and precision Hughes transforms these small-denomination coins into pieces of fine art, many of which are for sale via eBay. Part of his success lays in his ability to add to the coin while maintaining a balance in the final result. The surface is not busy, allowing the eye to appreciate how his engraving enhances the pre-existing lines of the coin.

Hughes shares his process via his YouTube channel, which contains his hobo nickel work, as well as informational videos about hand engraving equipment. 













Shaun Hughes: Instagram | DeviantArt | eBay | YouTube
via [Colossal]

All images via Shaun Hughes.

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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