Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor
Orientation. Adjusting or rotating a numismatic or medallic design so the horizontal and vertical planes are appropriate to the viewer. This is
required at several times; when the artist designs the piece, of course, when the pressman prepares his setup for striking – DIE ALIGNMENT – and when an illustration is prepared
for publication. This is mostly a problem for illustrations of round coins and medals so they won't look tilted.
How to orientate round coin and medal illustrations. When coins or medals are designed, artists use obvious and subtle hints to give the viewer a perception to
which way is up ... or down ... on a round design. Obvious hints are horizon lines, water lines, bases and sides of buildings and such. In numismatics we have a very often used
element – the base line – which separates the design from the exergue. If a base line is present it is easy to orientate a numismatic illustration.
Most important hint of all: inscription lettering is always on a horizontal base line. Other subtle hints include: the legend – the lettering around the circular edge – usually
starts and stops at the same level.
For items designed with linear perspective there are numerous clues for orientating a coin or medal: two eyes of a portrait are usually on the same level plane. The shoulder
line is usually level. A profile is usually vertical.
Also look for vertical lines: sides of buildings, coats of arms, logos, trees, columns, candlesticks. Everything that should look vertical in nature – should look vertical on a
coin or medal design.
In the days when all illustrations were mounted on wooden printing blocks this chore was done by the photo engraver (who mounted the zinc cut). Today it is done by the makeup
artist or the layout artist. There is no excuse today to have tilted illustrations because of the ease in which they can be aligned.
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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