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High Point

High Point.  The point of highest relief on a numismatic or medallic item. The high point – often the nose on a portrait – is formed from the lowest point of the die cavity. Examining the high point in the press room during striking is necessary for both medals and coins; it is the critical point which determines whether a medal is fully struck up in multiple striking, or for a coin during set up. High points are examined in the finishing department as well; as medals are oxidized and relieved they are examined to insure the high point is not overly buffed.

High points are the first to wear and the most vulnerable to damage, thus they are an important factor of condition. A collector or numismatist will check first an item's high points to determine wear or condition. If high points are particularly worn they are sometimes designated contact marks.

Also there are special high points – called support points. These are usually three in number, usually located on the reverse and sometimes hidden in the design purposely by the designer. Support points, as expected, support the item as it rests on a flat surface and somewhat prevents wear to the remainder of the 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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