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Leaflet.  Any printed piece made to accompany a new coin or medal issue that gives details of its creation and background. While leaflets are usually small format – often small enough to fit in the box or packaging of the coin or medal – it also extends to booklets and even cloth bound books. It differs from publications by numismatists in that it is written and provided by the issuer, publisher or the sponsoring organization. It is always printed near the time of original issue. It is incorrectly called a pamphlet unless it has a substantial number of pages.

Most leaflets identify the maker (artist, mint or manufacturer), identity of person or persons portrayed, and some text on the reason for its issue. While not as explicit as numismatists might desire (they almost never give quantity struck, for instance), it is often the only documentation for a coin or medal other than what appears on the item itself.

Leaflets are sometimes issued with commemorative coins, but more often with medals. They are never as permanent as the item itself – often becoming separated from the item or lost. To overcome this shortcoming, some publishers have even used an adhesive label and applied this to the back of some uniface medallic item (as did the issuer of the Theodore Roosevelt Plaque, 1920, by James Earle Fraser). Unfortunately these are just as impermanent. Sadly, the U.S. Mint has often been lax about the amount of information supplied with their coin and medal promotions.

Leaflets should never be discarded. They are useful for writing any news item or

numismatic article, or collectors’ list; for any documentation, or appraisal.. But most important of all, leaflets are the most excellent source of information for cataloging. For collectors leaflets add information about the item increasing the sheer enjoyment of owning the item.

History of leaflets.  When James Mudie issued his series of 40 National Medals of Great Britain (1814-20), he wrote and published in 1820 a cloth bound book entitled: An Historical and Critical Account of a Grand Series of National Medals Published under the Direction of James Mudie, Esq. This was the first and most elaborate medal "leaflet."

Mudie set the example for subsequent medal publishers, particularly for those medals to be sold to the public. He also established the precedent of a leaflet for any item issued in series, as most every series publisher through the 20th century has done.

Some series required the artist to write a descriptive text of their creation. Such was the case for The Society of Medalists (1930-1995). However, often it was found that artists may not be proficient in two media, creating an excellent bas-relief design, but writing a terrible essay on it.

Modern leaflet.  Illustrated is a leaflet for the Ford Presidential Inaugural Medal which includes, perhaps, the basic desired information about the artist, the design, the maker, the occasion, the history of the series, the details of all varieties, and even a numismatic description of the medal.

See medal publishing.



                              Most Unusual Leaflet                  


         In 1852 Henry Clay was bestowed a gold medal for

    his effort in effecting the Compromise Measures (also

    called the Compromise of 1850). It concerned the     

    entrance of states into the Union and whether they   

    should be free or slave. It allowed for Utah and New 

    Mexico to become Territories (without either status)

    and allowed California to become a free state.       


         Clay was presented the medal by citizens of New 

    York and 150 copies in bronze were struck and sold at

    $30. Inside the lid of the case of each was a leaflet

    printed on silk.  It reprinted an account from the   

    Washington National Intelligencer (February 10, 1852)

    detailing the presentation ceremony, Clay's reply,   

    and a discussion of the medal.  The medal was        

    engraved and struck by Charles Cushing Wright.       

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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