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Exhibit, Exhibiting

Exhibit, Exhibiting.  Arranging numismatic and/or medallic items for viewing with the intent of imparting knowledge or information to the viewer. Building exhibits is a vital part of museum work for a professional curator and for numismatic conventions by the amateur numismatist. Such displays include specimens and captions that explain and amplify the numismatic information contained in the display. Convention exhibits are shortlived, viewable only during the convention; museum displays are of permanent or semi-permanent duration. Exhibits that are once assembled are occasionally moved from one museum to another, these are called traveling exhibits.

Exhibits can be located at many places in addition to museums, local club meetings, national conventions, bank lobbies, or store windows are examples. Several factors are important for every exhibit: security, lighting, distance for viewing, and if the exhibit is to be judged. Competitive exhibits have to follow some prescribed rules.

An exhibit should have a theme, which the coins or medals exemplify. Additional material, often nonnumismatic items, can be added if they support the theme. Called associated items, these can be photographs, prints, maps, other collectible items or objects related to the coins or medals that develop or amplify the theme. Drawings of some portion of the design enlarged to show detail overlooked in a small specimen are excellent.

Lettering is important. The exhibit should have a title. Additional lettering draws the viewer's attention to the themes the exhibit maker wishes to exemplify. Museums can afford to have professional lettering; collector exhibits are often typewritten. Text should not be long, but make a point that is illustrated by the coin or medal on display.

Exhibits for numismatic shows are generally provided cases into which the material is to be placed. Standardized exhibit cases measure 17 3/4 x 29 3/4 x 1 3/4 inches. This does limit somewhat thicker objects but is satisfactory for most coins, medals and associated items. Noncompetitive exhibits may be housed in these cases, or custom-made cases.

Competitive rules usually state that no counterfeit items may be exhibited, the items must be owned by the exhibitor, that no advertisements be placed in the exhibit offering the items for sale, and previous best-in-show winners may not enter that same exhibit again. There are often classes of exhibits and specialized awards. The American Numismatic Association has set rules for their convention exhibits, which most other numismatic organizations follow as guidelines. The rules also spell out judging procedures and the points for information conveyed, presentation, completeness, condition and rarity of the items.

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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