Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor
Quotations on Medals. Short statements pertinent to the theme of a medallic item are occasionally used by designers. Quotations from the Bible, Shakespeare, authors,
poets and statesmen can be found on medals. All quotations must be significant to the subject of the medal providing terse, characteristic wording that amplifies the medal’s theme. Thus most
quotations are brief statements because of space limitations and the desire of designers to keep lettering to a minimum (and the obvious reason so few quotations are found on coins).
Illustrated is the Theodore Roosevelt Plaque of 1920. It includes a three-line quotation which artist James Earle Fraser placed in the plinth. While it is probably from the period in
Roosevelt’s life when he was New York City police commissioner, no amount of research has identified this exact quotation. It may have been composed by the artist not the subject.
An interesting quotation was given on the reverse of the Society of Medallists 29th Issue (shown below) by Richard Recchia. A 16-word quote – from poet Henry Austin Dobson (1840- 1821) – was
arranged in an unusual way on an artistic bust-and- wing design; it starts as a LEGEND, continues as an INSCRIPTION and ends in the EXERGUE, a rare use of all three locales for the necessary
Quotation marks. Quotation marks are infrequently used in the lettering of quotations and inscriptions. Like a headline a single quotation mark should be used rather than a double quotation
mark. When so employed they should be included in all cataloging and indexing.
Quotation marks are occasionally found in inscriptions around the names of ships, airplanes and other named objects. There are also medals where quotation marks were unnecessary; an architectural
medal of 1849 for example bearing Prince Albert displays a portion of an asylum building on the reverse with the inscription: “The Ladies’ Wing” of the Victuallers Asylum (the marks were unnecessary
but used presumably for emphasis). Brown 2359.
Cataloging and indexing quotations. Cataloging should include the full citation of the source of the quotation and would be a part of the art research. The author of the quotation should be
identified whenever possible, unless the source is obvious (as the saying of the person portrayed, or from the Bible or Shakespeare, say). Only in very rare instances are citations – date, source,
chapter or verse on the quotation – found on the medallic item. These data are sometimes revealed by the artist in a LEAFLET, however, should one have been issued. Sometimes such research identifies
the latitude the artist has taken with the quotation (as the Roosevelt Plaque mentioned above). Quotation marks used for the names of objects, would be included in the index of inscriptions as they
actually appear on the item indexed.
Looking for the meaning of a numismatic word, or the description of a term? Try the Newman Numismatic Portal's Numismatic Dictionary at: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/dictionary
Wayne Homren, Editor
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