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Sculpture.  The art of three-dimensional images and objects, carved, modeled or molded into reliefs or art in-the-round. Sculpture had but a small application to numismatics prior to the development of the die-engraving pantograph. Only infrequently had sculptors aided coin designers by providing a model from which hand engravers would copy by hand cutting the dies. (This would be indicated by two signatures, one followed by MOD, or SC, which specified the artist who furnished the bas-relief model.) But with the widespread use of the die-engraving pantograph (beginning in the late 19th century and worldwide by 1920) the majority of coin and medal creating passed from the hand die engraver to the sculptor. It is the sculptor now who creates oversize models in relief – one obverse and one reverse – which would be reduced mechanically on the pantograph to the desired size dies. Thus sculpture and sculptors now have a very strong influence and active participation in the numismatic and medallic fields.

The abbreviation SC, SCULP or similar term often appears in the signature of a print or engraving. This applies to the carving of the flat printing plate (outside the scope of this work); it does not imply any carving of modulated relief on these plates. These are created by a different artist (only the rare artist exists who could do both flat engraving and actual sculpture in-the-round – one is two-dimensional graphic, the other is three-dimensional glyptic.)


All works listed in class A in Bibliography.

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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