Essay. A trial piece or proof of a design that may, or may not, be accepted. See PROVING, TRIAL PIECE. Essay is not to be confused with assay, a testing of metal fineness. The term is spelled essai in French and this has appeared on numismatic items.
excerpted with permission from
For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators
COMPILED AND WRITTEN BY D. WAYNE JOHNSON
Roger W. Burdette, Editor