Dick Johnson submitted these entries from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor
Background. The elements of a numismatic or medallic design not in the foreground; the field. Coins and medals customarily
have one or more devices which form the foreground design; with the exception of lettering and border, all else is the background. Background may – or may not
– comprise additional design, called background texture with an infinite variety of texture, such as florentine, striated, mottled, pebbled surface. Or the
background surface may be left completely blank (collectors call this clean field); or the background can be polished in the die to produce proof surface.
Since background recedes from the viewer, thus it is the lowest part of the struck design, it is the highest part of the die. As such, it is the first area
for deterioration to occur in the stored die; if objects are dropped on it, or if moisture is present, this is the first area to rust. Thus dents or rust pits
are most often found in the background, formed near the devices. Background is the same surface as field, ground, matrix and table, each term used by different
professions in the creation and life of a coin or medal. See field.
Incuse. Struck or stamped into a metal surface, as on a coin or medal. Incuse differs only slightly from incise – incise means cut into any surface, incuse
means stamped into a metal surface. A few coins bear incuse designs, the most notable is the U.S. $2 1/2 and $5 gold pieces (1908-1929) by Bela Lyon Pratt.
Several ancient Greek coins bear incuse designs. A distinctive medal, the Society of Medalists Fortieth Anniversary Medal, by Julian Hoke Harris, has a portion
of its design incuse for contrast.
Diaglyph. An object with design below the background, with negative or intaglio relief. The design for the $5 and $2½ gold coins (1908-1929) designed by
Bela Lyon Pratt, is a numismatic diaglyph. It is the opposite of anaglyph, an object with raised or cameo relief. See relief, anaglyphtography.
I'd never heard of the "diaglyph" term before. Collectors typically call these "incuse". Dick's Encyclopedia covers a lot
of ground, including many terms from the worlds of sculptors, engravers and die sinkers. -Editor
Book lovers should be word lovers as well.
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
Or if you would like a printed copy of the complete Encyclopedia, it is available. There are 1,854 terms, on 678 pages, in The Encyclopedia of
Coin and Medal Technology. Even running two a week would require more than 19 years to publish them all. If you would like an advance draft of this vital
reference work it may be obtained from the author for your check of $50 sent postpaid. Dick Johnson, 139 Thompson Drive, Torrington, CT 06790.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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