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Lettered Collar

Lettered Collar.  A specially prepared segmented collar – engraved in advance to contain incised lettering – used with inside collar dies to obtain raised lettering on the edge of a medal. An expensive process, lettered collars require the specially prepared collar, usually of three parts, with the engraving of the lettering on the inner surface of these three collar segments. When the piece is struck, extra press time is required; after each piece is struck within the collar, the collar must be disassembled to eject the medal. Art medals to be struck with a lettered collar are usually struck up first without the collar, nearly trimmed to exact size, then the final blow or two being sufficient to force metal into the incised engraving of the collar.  See segmented collar, virole brisée, collar (2).


History of lettered collar. The first such medal to be struck with raised letters was

struck as a pattern in 1667. The English King Charles II ordered trials for a milled coinage from the newly appointed Dutch engravers, the Roettier brothers, at the Royal Mint. Thomas Simon, an audacious and creative local engraver, sought to secure the commission in 1663, but failed. To show his skill, he placed a tiny inscription in two rows of letters on the edge of his coin. The  “Petition” of two hundred raised letters is in two lines around the coin’s rim. While this is considered one of the world’s rarest and most valuable coins, a competing medal made by J. Roettier, who in reality won the king’s approval, is often overlooked or forgotten by collectors. This Roettier masterpiece is dedicated to the Peace of Breda and was made in 1667. It too has an inscription on the edge in raised letters that was made from a SEGMENTED COLLAR.

In 1805 by Matthew Boulton at his Soho Mint in Birmingham (after he had developed the segmented collar as early as 1788). He struck the 1805 medals for the officers and men who had participated at the Battle of Trafalgar. The medal, with a portrait of Lord Nelson, bore the raised edge lettering: TO THE HEROES OF TRAFALGAR FROM M BOULTON.

In the United States in 1907 a lettered collar was used at the U.S. Mint to strike

the $20 gold piece by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. This coin was replicated in 2009 with the same design as a gold bullion piece, the edge was also lettered in raised lettering. It was intended to prove that 21st technology – with use of computers – could be equal to that of previous centuries for obverse and reverse dies, yet the segmented collar was the same technique.

The first art medal to be struck with a lettered collar in the United States was the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal of 1915. Designed by James Earle Fraser it was struck by Medallic Art Company. See edge lettering and numbering.

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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