Skip to content


Set.  Two or more coins or medals issued together and always intended to be housed and displayed together. A set differs from a series in that the items in a set are made and issued at one time, in contrast to a series thatissued over a period of time (usually by subscription). A set has special meaning when all items are present and can be viewed – and usually obtained – at one time. Some series can be added to indefinitely (as, say, the presidents of the United States). A set is fixed in the number of items in a group that will never change from this finite number.

If one or more members of the set is missing those remaining are called a broken set. There are some groups that can be either a set or series; for example the 12 zodiac can be a set if made and available to purchased at one time; or a series if acquired over time, or, one from a series if, say, only one zodiac piece was present.

Early sets of medals.  A set of four medals, Nelson's Naval Victories, 1797-1805, by an unknown medalist, were one of the earliest medals issued as a set. Of similar size, in four compositions, the set was issued in a silver box.

The first set issued in America was the three Seasons Medals struck in 1798 honoring George Washington (Washington the Shepherd, the Family Man, the Father). Issued by medal promoter Joseph Sansom of Philadelphia, the medals were engraved by John Reich and struck at the U.S. Mint.

Some modern sets include a set of two Viking Landing on Mars Medals (1976) or

a set of five Gloucester Schooner Fishing Ships (1973). A set within a series was the six dinosaur medals comprising the 128th Issue of the Society of Medalists (1995) by Don Everhart and struck by the Medallic Art Company. Dozens more sets could be named.

A collection, set or series of medals was formerly called a "medallary" (now considered an obsolete term). The French word, medaillier, means a collection or set of medals (or the cabinet to contain them).  See also series.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

NNP is 100% non-profit and independent // Your feedback is essential and welcome. // Your feedback is essential and welcome.