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Shield.  A form or shape derived from the protective armor carried on the arm in battle. The shield is widely used in heraldry where it is decorated with numerous design elements – as such it is called an escutcheon or coat of arms. Such coat of arms or other heraldry items are frequently employed in coin and medal designs. If more than one shield appears in the design, the center shield is the one of most importance; the French term for this is ecu central, the German is mittelschild. A form of a shield in mythology is called an aegis, a shield or breastplate of Zeus or Athena.

            The shield as a form of ART RELIEF was popular at the beginning of the 20th century, most often used as a wall plaque.  Any such shield-shaped medallic item is called scutiform.  See heraldry, unusual shapes.

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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