Skip to content


Delineator.  A person who outlines or sketches a coin or medal design; the first idea or rough sketch of a relief design. In reality there is little difference between delineator and designer, other than perhaps a designer adds somewhat more detail, remaining for the engraver or modeler to render this into modulated relief in die or model. Latin abbreviations include delinat, delin, delt, however the most often abbreviation found on medals is del or d (the later, however, is indistinguishable from d for designer).

Delineations as suggested outlines for coins and medals vary greatly in their creativity, astuteness and artistic design. Often a crude and perhaps inept delineation is assigned to a factory artist that results in the most unimaginative, insipid and mediocre design. How much better it would be to assign a concept to an artist, trained in bas-relief and perhaps specializing or experienced in medallic creations, and let the artist prepare the design. The medallic artist has a pallet of many design techniques – some unique to medallic art -- that an inexperienced delineator may be unaware. Many of these are subtle, or can be as obvious as an element on the obverse carried over to the reverse. This should result in a far more appropriate, pleasing and artistic creation in medallic format.

Recently at the U.S. Mint, particularly for the reverse design for each of the 50 State quarters, each state was asked to furnish suggestions. It was learned what the Mint engravers wanted was not delineations or even designs, but what they called “narrations.” This was, in effect, concepts. Identify the event or persons involved, put this words, and led professional coin and medal artists develop the creative design from this concept.

See drawings and sketches.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.