Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on new concepts in coins and medals. Thanks! -Editor
Nothing new under the sun?—I strongly disagree for the numismatic field. Mints and medalmakers of the world are outdoing themselves in
valiant attempts to create new products for sale to collectors. We have yet to determine whether each of these attempts are fads or
Ring technology has advanced so far that struck items with planchets of two contrasting metals are now commonplace. No longer a fad. The
Paris Mint has even struck a coin of three different metals, one core and two rings of separate color metals.
Adding color to monochromatic coinage metals all of one color has run rampant. Hard enamel, the customary method of adding color to
medals and decorations is being replaced by numerous methods. Soft enamels painted on are somewhat now common. We also observe painting
each color with organic coatings, or normal paints. Most successful is the technology of “pad printing” by a machine developed by a German
Often any new technology is tried first on a medal before it is adopted for a coin. Proof surface first appeared on a tiny medal before
it was adapted for a coin, The U.S. Mint’s new concept of striking a convex-concave blank for the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative
coin is not new. Such a blank was used for an earlier American medal, the stunning 3½-inch Society of Medallist issue #122.
Creation, by Marcel Jovine. A coin in domed shape is definitely a fad. Such items cannot sustain continuous acceptance by
Other concepts have been tried in the last two decades -- different shapes including silhouette edges, fabricated items with applied
objects like crystal, embedded objects like holograms, fancy edgelettering. The list goes on as mint officials try whatever new gimmick
they can conceive. All are fads until they are easy to produce and sustained by wide collector acceptance over years of time.
All this was brought to mind this week as I was writing something about the Federation de la Medaillie (FIDEM), the world group of
medallists. In checking their website I found an illustrated list of their biannual congress medals. Presumably one would think these would
be the cream of the world’s best in medallic art.
It was dramatic, all were the traditional round shape for the first dozen issues. Only until 1975 when Polish sculptor Jerzy Nowakowsky
won the commission to prepare the organization’s medal. Slightly out-of-round it had relief extending beyond the edge on both sides of the
design. My goodness! Did his compass slip? While these pieces are customarily cast, they could easily be made any shape other than
While such “outside the box” design beyond the normal edge is a delight to observe, it is not common. It has a name; such designs are
called “hyperdimensional.” Seasoned sculptor and onetime medallist, Bill Macke, uses this technique frequently. He likes to model female nudes inside
a frame with one leg hanging outside the frame. (If you are not offended by nudes -- this is Art!– go to bas-relief images on the internet,) That’s
It wasn’t until 1987 at the first American FIDEM congress at ANA in Colorado Springs that another nonround medal was issued. A stunning
avant-garde design in oval shape by Mico Kaufman was issued. It was followed by an 8-pointed star shape medal. Then FIDEM reverted back to
At the second American FIDEM congress in 2007, also at ANA, the most creative medal was issued in modified quadrant shape, created by
New England sculptor Sarah Peters. It was so unusual four of them could be interconnected together. Since the reverse had the same human
design on the reverse, “consimilar,” it could be rearranged in two other configurations. Dramatic!
We can expect the future holds even more wild numismatic specimens as the makers stretch their imaginations for the unusual. Only
collectors, however, will determine whether these are fads or not.
I reported on the 2007 FIDEM congress and Sarah Peters’ medal in The E-Sylum volume 10, no. 38, article 9, September 25,
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
DICK JOHNSON REPORTS FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS FIDEM CONGRESS
The FIDEM list of medals is at FIDEM CONGRESS MEDAL ARCHIVES
One Bill Macke relief is at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/22/dc/64/22dc64eab9742a30fd352b077fc22d0c.jpg
Wow! I love that piece (pictured above). Amazing work. Thanks, Dick. Creativity is indeed alive and well. -Editor
Wayne Homren, Editor
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