Coin engraving is an expertise that takes incredible patience and precision. It also, like any other art form, has many different styles and levels of experience. Steve Adams, a Pennsylvania man that has been an engraver for 35 years first learned to hand-cut steel dies with a hammer and chisel, although other techniques were used along the way, it is the hammer and chisel that he uses most frequently for sculpting in steel or coin engraving.
Steve’s vast amount of artistic skill is remarkable to put it mildly. From bas-relief sculptures, die engraving and coin carving, hand forging of metalware, creating his very own engraving tools, steampunk guns and sculptures, woodworking and even landscaping; it is a wonder how he has mastered such an impressive number of things. When asked where he has received the most inspiration, he simply stated that his work ethic was instilled in him by his beloved grandfather “Pap” and the creative inspiration he has been given came from the many engravers, artist and sculptors that he has met along the way in his artistically specialized journey; picking up a little from every creative person that he encountered.
Steve Adams realized that this expressive style of living was his rightful path after college when he was hired by a hammer and chisel die engraver. The man who employed him was an Italian master engraver, and working along side the engraver was his son. After a short amount of time, the father sought out to start his own business, and Steve was then given the opportunity to work in company with the master engraver’s son. The son was old school and didn’t share much other than showing Steve how to make chisels. Weeks after the son’s father had left, the son decided to resign from the business as well. Leaving Steve unnerved and on his own, he began picking up the craft rapidly. Learning three weeks later that he not only had the tenacity to get the job done, but his work became transcendent. To this day he continues to expand his knowledge… and his passion is clearly showcased through his work.
With the wide-ranging skills that he possessed, he made the transition to hobo nickel carving. He discovered the hobo nickel art form on eBay in 2000 and soon after chose to partake in the hobby of hobo nickel engraving. At that time there were less than half a dozen active carvers on eBay and designs were more traditional. To his surprise, the early carvings were profitable and began to flourish both on eBay and by commission. Needless to say, he has stuck with this lucrative venture.
“With the influx of many master engravers in the hobo nickel craft, you have to engrave something really unique to make a mark now. We’re fortunate that most engravers are supportive of each other and collectors help to support the craft. Though the art form began with the use of buffalo nickels as a canvas, the introduction of larger coins, such as the Morgan silver dollar, have added new dimensions to the craft. Although I make my living as a die engraver and sculptor, I mostly enjoy the creative process of coin carving.” -Steve Adams
Through practice and persistence, anything is possible…