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Square Shape

Square Shape.  A coin or medal with four edges of equal length and four right angles. Modern symbolism for the square shape is difference and independence, to be the square peg in a world of round holes. Earlier it meant order and stability, as the four seasons or the four stages in man's life. A square shape is considered less sensual to the human touch than the circle because of the corners. A square panel is called a meotope, often a square frame enclosing a medallic design.                        

Square coins.  Coins of roughly square shape exist for a major reason of the ease

of preparing the blank. Cutting square blanks is easy with a pair of shears and can be done manually. Thus provisional or emergency coinage is frequently in square or diamond (klippe) shape. In modern times with modern equipment Netherlands struck a square 5-cent coin (1913-43) with rounded corners.

Square medals.  While a square medal might be confused with a plaquette, both having four right angle corners by definition, a plaquette is usually one sided and thinner.

A square medal always has two sides, obverse and reverse, and sufficient thickness for its medallic design. An early example was the Giangiacomo Trivulzio Medal of 1449, by Cristofano Caradosso (Kress 192). A recent example is the Society of Medalist Issue number 69 by Robert Weinman.


NE42 {1982} Doty, (square coins) p 311-312.

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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