The Numismatic Bibliomania Society

PREV ARTICLE       NEXT ARTICLE       FULL ISSUE       PREV FULL ISSUE      

V18 2015 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 42, October 18, 2015, Article 23

NEW CONCEPTS IN COINS AND MEDALS: FAD OR FASHION?

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 fashion.

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 firm.

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 collectors.

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 round.

Bill Macke relief in frame 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 really hyperdimensional.

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 round again.

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, 2007.

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
DICK JOHNSON REPORTS FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS FIDEM CONGRESS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v10n38a09.html)

The FIDEM list of medals is at FIDEM CONGRESS MEDAL ARCHIVES (http://www.fidem-medals.org/congress%20medals%20arc.html).

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

DickJohnson Medal Artists book Ad02


Wayne Homren, Editor

Google
 
NBS (coinbooks.org) Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at coinbooks.org.

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address: whomren@gmail.com

To subscribe go to: https://my.binhost.com/lists/listinfo/esylum

PREV ARTICLE       NEXT ARTICLE       FULL ISSUE       PREV FULL ISSUE      

V18 2015 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

Copyright © 1998 - 2012 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster
coin