Here's another entry from Dick Johnson's Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology.
A large medal, round or nearly so. In America a medallion is a medallic item larger than three and one-eighth inches, in Europe it is larger than eighty millimeters (80mm). The term is frequently misused in sales literature for a medal of any size and has even appeared on medals of less than 3-inch diameter. Generally medallions less than 5-inches can be struck and have two sides; less than 8-inch diameter can have two sides but only if cast. All those over that size are cast uniface. The upper size of a medallion is not defined.
A medallion is not a small medal enlarged, rather a work of art created – and intended -- to be larger than 80 millimeters. The increased size gives the medallic artist more canvas to prepare his creation; thus medallions often have more detail, design or devices to justify their larger size. The worst thinking in creating large medallic art is to make the subject, the award, or the theme appear more important by making it larger in size. This faulty premise has resulted in some bad medallic art.
Also, the pattern for a medal should not be called a
medallion. It is not. Patterns are typically oversize (from two to ten times the intended size item), which are reduced on the die-engraving pantograph. The pattern for a struck medallion is also oversize, all others are modelled exact size..
When a relief item is, say, 12-inch (30.5 cm) diameter or more it is appropriately called a circular relief, always uniface, When a relief item is embedded in the floor of a building it is called a floor medallion; it can be any size and obviously uniface.
While a medallion in other art forms as part of some larger work a medallion is a large round design, often within a border containing a device or portrait (but usually without any lettering). Such medallion designs are found in painting , tapestry, fans, furniture, textiles, carpets. A similar large round design in sculpture or architecture is called a tondo, it usually stands alone,
To read the complete entry on the Newman Numismatic Portal, see:
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