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Impressed Design

Impressed Design.  An added piece of metal or other very hard substance which by intent is laid on the surface of a blank or partially struck medal and is pushed into its surface by the blow of the press and the striking of the dies. Impressed objects are much like an inlay – appearing below the surface – by placing it there before the final blow (this is easy to do with open face dies, but difficult in coining). Impressed objects are subject to flaking off, so care must be taken in their handling. When such an object is not inlaid by design it is an anomaly called impressed error (see next entry).

The first evidence of this occurred in 1692. Trial halfpennies and farthings of William and Mary were struck with impressed metal shapes. A halfpenny exists with a mullet-shaped or circular tin center impressed in a copper coin; or an 8-pointed star in copper impressed in a tin coin. The farthings had a ring of brass impressed in a copper coin. According to C. Wilson Peck, of the British Museum, the reason is unknown why these few trials were made. A similar ancient technique was used in Etheopia as early as AD 380, and in China for a special 5,000 ch’ien coin in AD 7

This is the method of manufacture for an occasional relic metal medal in modern times. An example is the C.D. Peacock 100th Anniversary Medal of 1937. This medal contains a minute piece of the firm's steel safe door impressed into the lower reverse field. The safe had survived the 1871 Chicago Fire and was still in use in 1937.


NC7 {1960} Peck, pp 158-9.

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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