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Holed.  A numismatic or medallic item drilled or punched with an opening as for suspension usually after the item has been completed and issued. Holes mutilate a coin or medal if they were not intended by the designer. Holed is not a synonym for pierced or openwork – both terms imply the opening was made by intent of its designer. When the hole is made by a drill rather than by a piercing tool it is called a drill hole. When the issuer has a medal pierced, as for suspension, it is termed holed as issued; but sometimes the intent of the issuer is not known.

The number and positions of holes can give some indication of how the item was mounted or used. A single hole at the 12 o'clock position indicate the piece was suspended from a header, chain or ribbon drape. Two holes, at 12 and 6 o'clock, indicate multiple elements in the suspension with this piece somewhere in the middle. Two holes on a small medal, at 3 and 9 o'clock or somewhat closer to the center indicate its use as a button (it was sewn onto a garment).

Some collectors had such an aversion to medallic items that were holed (intended or otherwise) that at one time early 20th century American dealers would keep on hand a supply of very narrow red-white-blue ribbon (one variety was 5/32-inch, another 5/16-inch) which they would snip off a short length and attach this to every holed item in stock. Apparently this would quiet the objections of the obdurate collectors. Some early 20th century Lincoln medals are particularly noted for this ersatz ribboning – and some

are still attached decades later.

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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