Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on art medals and slabs.
A question arose this week of "slabbing" art medals. No need to. The intent of coins is to circulate as money and they are slabbed to prohibit unwanted tarnish and to prevent any further wear or damage.
But the intent of art medals is entirely different; they do not circulate and they are given a protective finish to prohibit any tarnish. Medal makers often highlight or give a patina finish to art medals that are almost always lacquered. That is protection enough to be handled by humans to embrace the feel of their relief forever. The intent of art medals is to be able to hold, to touch, to feel that relief. Along, of course, with the beauty and significance of their design.
Medals are usually larger, most often over two inches, so art medals would not fit the standard size slab for coins and tokens. Coins are slabbed, it seems, to be able to handle and store these numismatic items but also to facilitate their sale by the stated variety and condition. As such they can change ownership a dozen times a year.
That is not the case for medals. The buyer of a medal typically wants to own it for a long time, to appreciated its tactile thrill in addition to its beauty and design.
Very infrequently medals have been embedded in Lucite, and perhaps this could be considered an ersatz slab. But the most convincing argument I can give is this: I have been asked more often how to remove a medal from a plastic embedment, than how or where to have it embeded in the first place.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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