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Watch as a Penny is Transformed into a Skull Portrait

Watch as a Penny is Transformed into a Skull Portrait

We carry tiny, detailed portraits of some of our country’s most important people around in our pockets every day, but we don’t seem to really appreciate their aesthetic value. Yes, coins are lovely on their own, but they’re made even more fascinating by the art of re-engraving them to create new images. The product of this longstanding tradition is known as a “hobo nickel.”

If you’ve ever wanted to see how one of these is made, now’s your chance: YouTube user Shaun Hughes specializes in this craft, and he recently posted a 30-minute video detailing the process of turning Abraham Lincoln’s penny portrait into an illustration of a skull (via LaughingSquid).

The process goes pretty much as you’d expect, involving a bunch of very precise chisels, and an even more precise hand manning them. It looks like he has the penny just about done after the first few minutes, and it’s true that most of the major elements are in place by that point, but it’s the extended time spent on the details that really make these pennies pop.

If this intrigued you, Hughes’ channel is filled with hours of him modifying pennies. It seems he’s a Star Wars fan–one video shows off a Stormtrooper penny, while another features a Darth Vader coin. What sorts of art do you think would look good on a penny? Hit us up on Twitter and let us know what you think!

Featured image: Shaun Hughes Hand Engraving/YouTube

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