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Drawings and Sketches

Drawings and Sketches.  The earliest concepts of a design recorded in some way as a plan to be developed further. The first ideas of a numismatic or medallic design are usually in the two-dimensional form of a drawing before the design is rendered into a three-dimensional form, either of which is called a study. Often a great number of drawings are made (if small and sketchy they are called thumbnail drawings); the artist will proceed until a concept for the design is chosen. The process in the mind of the artist is often one of trial and selection, with those having merit being recorded in a drawing, and others discarded.

Some medallic designers, notably Augustus Saint-Gaudens, omitted drawings, instead he prepared sketches directly in clay or plaster, perceiving the three-dimension form in their mind, recording these quickly in some rapidly shaped media as a preliminary design draft to be refined later by further development of the design (once the form is satisfactory then detail, lettering and such is added to finalize the design). Collectors and museums often find interest in these drawings and sketches, including the rejected designs. These early drafts are sometimes exhibited, along with the completed medallic object, to form a design history of how the medallic design evolved.  See design.

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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