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High Relief

High Relief.  Design projecting strongly from the background. Technically, high relief is a form of relief sculpture that is more than half projected from its background, with extensive undercutting. As such, the term would have no relationship to numismatics since this form of relief cannot be rendered into anything numismatic (and obviously cannot be made into or from a die).

However, the term is widely used in numismatic sales literature for multiple struck art medals with abnormal high design. An example is the Edgar Allan Poe Medal in the Hall of Fame for Great American series, 1963, by Michael Lantz. What is really meant here is high bas-relief (literally, high low relief – which does not mean medium relief – but instead, the highest possible form of low relief). Wherever the term high relief is found in numismatics this concept should be understood, rather than the form of sculptural relief with extensive undercutting that is standard in the art field. The term haute-relief is French for high relief. See relief.

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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