Briggs Library adds contest to leave its mark on Hobo Day


The wooden nickel and Hobo Day didn’t have anything in common until now. Students have the ability to embrace their creative side by designing a wooden nickel while participating in the Hobo Week events. 

Hilton M. Briggs Library is hosting the first-ever Hobo Nickel Design Contest. Students are asked to pick up a maximum of three wooden nickels and an entry form at the Library Services Desk.

“The idea [of the contest] is kind of paying a homage to the folk or outsider art form of Hobo Nickels, which is to create a new design on a coin,” said Jessica English, the digital initiative coordinator at Briggs Library.

According to English, the nickel was changed in 1913 to the Buffalo Nickel. It was different from previous nickels because it was smaller in size and the picture on the nickel was a profile. Eventually, the Buffalo Nickel was no longer produced, but people created an art movement of designing nickels with different pictures on them.

“There’s professional artists that still do them… in all kinds of designs, from hobo inspired ones to kitties and everything,” English said.

Final submissions of designed nickels are due at 5 p.m. on Hobo Day, Oct. 24. Then on Oct. 26, the Grand Pooba, Provost Nichols and Jack will vote on their favorite Hobo Nickels at 12 p.m. at Briggs Library and make a selection of the winners. The winners will receive gift certificates to the Dairy Bar. People who design nickels do not need to be at the reception to win the contest.

“You can change it in any way, add anything to do, carve it out, color it, dye it, whatever you can think to do and any design you can think of,” English said. “You can make [the wooden nickel] into a statue, you can carve a little tiny thing out of it. As long as some part of it is part of the final submission. It can be 3-D printed, it can be cut into wood shavings and glued to a diorama, anything you want.”

Options are endless when it comes to designing the wooden nickel. The only rule for designing is that the wooden nickel needs to be somewhere in the final submission.

 “We are hoping this will be the kick-off for more fun things to come,” English said. “Hopefully, this design contest works out then we can keep doing it and expand it and we have some other ideas brewing for sure for next year.”

This is the first year the Briggs Library has participated in the Hobo Week celebration.

“The library is an important part of the SDSU community and we want to be a part of Hobo activities and we feel that this contest is a great way to embrace the hobo creative spirit,” said Emmeline Elliot, the operations manager at Briggs.

English said she hopes that students see the contest as another part of Hobo Day. “[Students] would be able to develop some of their own ideas and get their designs out there too,” English said, “so that they can contribute to what the library’s doing, what the campus is doing and put their mark on it somehow and just have a good time.”