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Ball Feet

Ball Feet.  Hemisphere of metal attached to the back of a medallic item to make a paperweight of it. Most manufacturers used half spheres; called half ball feet, which they make themselves or obtained from jewelry supply houses. If the piece was struck with the hemispheres formed from such cavities in the reverse die it was called integral ball feet, but most were made by fabricating (attaching) separate ball feet. Other styles of feet appearing on paperweights are square, pylon and flat-top pyramid. This form of medallic item was popular in the first half of the 20th century.

In 1919 the Milwaukee Journal won the Pulitzer Medal and issued a plaquette to commemorate this event. The unknown maker attached two size brass ball feet – larger in back, smaller in front – to give a sloping effect to the piece lying on a flat surface. The brass spheres resemble ball bearings. A more sophisticated medal manufacturer would have used bronze half ball feet.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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