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Negative Space

Negative Space.  Openwork; a pierced or open area in a numismatic or medallic item. Like the square hole in a Chinese cash coin, such openings inordinately affects the design of both sides – the designs must be created around the aperature of each side. The openings also severely affect the design by the showthrough – anything held behind the piece will be observed because of the opening. Most such negative space is created by piercing on the struck piece, or as part of the shape of a cast pieces. The French word for openwork is adjure.  See openwork.


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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