Contorniate. A medal with a V-shaped furrow around its edge. The term is derived from a thin bronze medallion so named and first used about the time of Constantine the Great, supposedly as a counter in a game like checkers. The furrow aids a human when picking up the piece by hand. A modern medal is trimmed on a lathe and the contorniate furrow is cut after the piece is turned off to the correct diameter; it is similar in manufacture to a concaved edge. A modern example of a contorniate edge is the 2-inch Weizmann Institute of Science Medal of 1959 (or its larger cast counterpart); it is unusual in that it also has a beveled edge (59-82). See edge.
excerpted with permission from
For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators
COMPILED AND WRITTEN BY D. WAYNE JOHNSON
Roger W. Burdette, Editor