Bracteate. A coin or medal so thin – less than one millimeter – that it bears the same design on both sides; the reverse being a mirror image of the obverse. Blanks for bracteates are much like foil, so thin it is impossible to have a second design for the reverse. Originally, in Roman antiquity, a bracteate was a thin metal plate of precious metal, engraved and chased with designs and often found buried in graves. Later, in medieval Europe, it was the term for a series of very thin silver coins (of pfennigand denarii denominations). Originating in Germany, the flat coins with a simple liner design, often on a broad flan, spread throughout central Europe.These bracteate coins were diestruck, but only the obverse die was engraved; the reverse die was made by impressing it, in soften state, into the obverse die than hardening it for striking. This was a crude forerunner of embossing, to create a shell from two mated embossing dies.Thus the term bracteate in modern times is applied to any thin coin, medal or coin-shaped item with the same design on both sides because there is not enough metal mass in the blank to form two different designs, one obverse and a separate reverse design. A bracteate is not described as being uniface – with a blank reverse – it has design on the reverse, it is just the mirror image of the obverse.
excerpted with permission from
For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators
COMPILED AND WRITTEN BY D. WAYNE JOHNSON
Roger W. Burdette, Editor