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Graffiti.  Lettering or any markings on a numismatic or medallic piece not intended

by designer or issuer; it is usually scratched, inked or stamped onto the surface often

by an unthinking owner or custodian. "My dad won this" scratched on an award medal lessens its value to future owners or collectors. Pawn ticket numbers scratched on the reverse of gold medals pawned in the U.S. in the 1930s is another form of graffiti. Usually graffiti lettering is very amateurish.

The practice is not limited to modern times. Byzantine gold coins of the 11th through 13th century have been found with Greek letters and Roman numerals scratched on their faces. This, like chop marks, were signatures of money changers and merchants who accepted and verified the weight and gold content. This marking is also called shroff mark.


                   Pawn Broker Graffiti                   


     A pawn ticket number on a medal is a four (or more)  

 digit number usually scratched on the reverse of a       

 precious metal item. These were numbers applied by pawn  

 brokers when some owner pawned the item. The number

 would match the number on the pawn ticket, thus would be       

 a fairly high number. The practice was particularly preva-  

 lent on gold medals pawned in the U.S. in the 1930s. This

 was a blatant example of GRAFFITI and not appreciated by 

 subsequent owners. Pawn dealers became more knowledgeable

 of condition of numismatic items once they tried to sell the

 item to collectors if left unredeemed.               


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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