Skip to content


Sketch.  A two-dimensional drawing or three-dimensional relief prepared by the artist to assist in the designing of a numismatic or medallic item. The ability to test or visualize a design concept can be easily done in sketches. The artist may prepare one sketch, or many, particularly if the work is commissioned, to show the client or mint official responsible. Three-dimensional sketches are prepared in clay or plaster, often completed very rapidly to give the artist a general idea or feel of the overall appearance. The first sketch or two (called a study, French etude) is often supplanted but highly prized by collectors. Some rejected sketches, both two- and three-dimensional are destroyed by the artist, but some survive.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens always made three dimensional sketches for his coin and medal designs and taught his students to do likewise. This is one reason, perhaps, for

the high quality his glyptic work and that of his students. Saint-Gaudens' sketches of his preliminary work on the $20 gold piece still exists as are samples of his medallic studies.  See design, drawings and sketches.

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.