steve west silver piston nickel sterling hobo jewelry

The Selvedge Yard is proud to offer Silver Piston jewelry in our online shop here.

“As a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, I was always intrigued by old buffalo nickels. I used to get them from my grandfather and would eventually spend them on candy. As a jewelry maker, they’re a cornerstone to a lot of my jewelry. It all started a couple of years ago when I bought a bag of them off eBay to see what could be done with them. One day I was in the studio working on a half inch wedding band for a friend. Since I had more silver I made one for myself and then it happened…

It was that moment when I a simple idea popped in my brain, cut the indian head out of the nickel and put it on the ring. That’s what I did. It took awhile to saw it but when I soldered it onto the ring, it was fucking awesome. After I finished the ring, the searching of the internet began. Googling indian head rings, cut-out indian head rings, etc. That resulted in nothing like what I was doing. Next step was to comb through looking for the same thing. Still nothing. Next step, cut out the buffalo and do the ring with it. Same result, it was fucking awesome. That was how Silver Piston truly came into its own. After posting them on Instagram, there was an immediate interest from people and orders started coming through my site.

A few years prior when I’d first learned about hobo nickels, I bought one of eBay. It was pretty cool and it sat in a drawer. The next obvious task was to cut it out and put it on a ring. I was okay but that was because I realized what a turd of a hobo nickel I’d bought. All the same it was posted to Instagram and a guy in England said I should look up Shane “Hobo” Hunter on eBay who does hobo nickels. After I found him, I loved what he was doing and wrote him an email telling him what I’d been doing. I sent pictures the rings I was making and we worked out a deal to buy custom hobos from him.

The history of the hobo nickel is a lot like jazz, an authentic American art form. Carving on coins dates back to the 1800s but it was the new buffalo nickel that was a game changer. Here was coin that was thick, had the largest head on a coin and only cost a nickel to buy. So engravers really took to them. It was after the stock market crash that it earned the nickname, hobo nickel. A big studio wasn’t needed, just an engraver, a few other tools and a nickel. Here was coin that could be carved into a little bas relief and it was suddenly worth more than a nickel. The last several years have seen a resurgence in the art form as more people are looking to work with their hands. While it can still be done with an engraver and a few tools, it’s been taken to a new level. Pneumatic engravers with microscopes to view through have given artisans a means to make even more intricate pieces of art.”

~ Steve West of Silver Piston


steve west silver piston hobo jewelry usa made


The Selvedge Yard is proud to offer Silver Piston jewelry in our online shop here.