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Reserve.  A plain area in a model, pattern or die – and the resulting area in a struck piece – that is intended to be engraved or inscribed with lettering. The reserve is often the area surrounded by the cartouche or a panel. It is purposely designed blank by the medal designer for this intended lettering. The reserve enables the medallic item to be customized – by the inscribing of any desired lettering in that area and the ability of unique lettering to appear on separate medals. This can be done after the medal is struck, or at any stage of its manufacture thereafter (medals can even be inscribed years after their original striking). The customizing of award medals, for example, is a typical use of reserves in a medal design. Stock medals often have large reserve areas for later customizing as well.

Reserves are generally not mentioned in cataloging, the lettering takes

precedence, and is, of course, more important. However when cataloging an uninscribed piece, the reserve should be mentioned. A cataloger who describes

a piece with a blank cartouche is, in effect, indicating the uninscribed reserve. Either term is satisfactory.

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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