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Embellish, Embellished

Embellish, Embellished.  To enhance a coin or medal design by the addition of detail or ornamentation to beautify it. An embellished design holds more charm, more interest for the viewer, literally more things to look at. It appeals to the aesthetic creativity of the artist, and this sensation is shared by all who will view the design. While embellishing usually entails the additional of detail – as small subsidiary devices, garlands, leaves or such – in certain instances it can be the changing of detail (or reducing an unsightly required design element, as a logo). Instead of using a dot for a stop in lettering, this can be changed by using a doodad or ornament instead. Costume and clothing are said to be adorned when they are embellished. In numismatics a sterile design that is not embellished is said to be plain.

The use of ornamentation, a major source of embellishment, is more than just adding small design elements. It is the wise selection of these elements for being appropriate to the theme of the piece and incorporating them into the design, keeping in mind the interspacial relationship of all design elements (including lettering). For coin and medal design the proper use of embellishing is the mark of a sophisticated artist.

      How Artists Embellish a Design

Adding doodads.

Discreetly using rays.

Wisely using subsidiary devices.

Applying texture to the background.

Changing design of stops in lettering.

Tucking little objects in a wreath design.

Adding garlands, flowers, leaves or petals.

Designing a border appropriate to the theme.

Separating equal design elements by ornate panels.

Reducing the size of a required logo or trademark.

Recognizing when to use attributes next to a

figure that needs additional identification.

Bedecking a portrait with hat or headgear.

Adorning clothing with texture or detail.

Using scrollwork in the design.

Ornamenting a frame.

Adding cherubs.

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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