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Reduction Punch

Reduction Punch.  A patrix or hub cut on a die-engraving pantograph; it may contain all design and lettering, but more often was the device alone. The reduction punch was particularly used in diesinking at a time when early pantographs were adequate to cut portraits (or other devices) but were inadequate to cut lettering or detail particularly near the border of a coin or medal design. What the reduction punch accomplished then, was a marriage of early machine engraving with existing hand engraving – with the machine cutting the device and hand working the lettering by engraving or punches.

Reduction punches were first used early in the 19th century when fixed-cutter pantographs – notably those of Dupeyrat and Wohgemuth in France, those of the Soho Mint and the Royal Mint in England, and several others elsewhere – were capable of cutting an acceptable portrait. The device was modeled, cast in some hard metal for the pattern, then reduced by the pantograph cutting a hub the intended size needed.

Instead of completing the full design in the model and reducing this to the size die required, here was the sequence necessary:  (1) model the device, (2) cast or electroform a pattern of the device, (3) cut a reduction punch of the device on a pantograph from the pattern, (4) hub the reduction punch into a die, (5) add the lettering by hand punches or hand engraving to complete the die.

While these extra steps added time and cost, using reduction punches had the advantage, however, of reducing, say, a monarch's portrait for several size coins. The lettering could be different for each denomination, but the portrait would be the same design in differing sizes.

The next generation pantographs –Caque in France, C.J. Hill in England – had

rotating cutters, in effect a milling machine. This improvement overcame somewhat the shortcoming of previous pantographs. But it was not until the 1890s that the quality of the pantographs was such that they could cut the entire die at one time from a pattern that contained all the design, lettering, everything. Thus the need for the reduction punch became unnecessary after this advancement in die making.

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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