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Stock Design

Stock Design.  A bas-relief design for a medallic item which can be ordered by anyone and made into a medallic item. The stock design can be in any form, from plaster model, galvano pattern, hub, die, or even completed medals sitting on a shelf for immediate use. Stock designs may be complete with both obverse and reverse, or one side only, or may be custom fabricated by adding additional parts (as a center emblem).

Every medallic manufacturer has some stock designs available. Usually stock designs are wreaths or similar designs for reverses needing only some further embellishment and/or lettering and to be mated with a custom obverse to complete the medallic item. Such stock designs reduce the cost of original art work and modeling, as the cost of these have already been borne by the medallic company or amortized by previous users.

Infrequently, the available design is a rejected design – one prepared on speculation and unaccepted – or more often, a portion copied from an obsolete medal. Once a medal is no longer being issued its design elements are susceptible to being adapted by later designers. The Paris Mint, for example, has over 100 such stock wreath designs available. In America the Medallic Art Company had over a dozen (one is named the Gaines Wreath – not after a designer named Gaines – but rather the dog food company that sponsored the Gaines Research Award Medal, now obsolete).

Some medallic companies deal almost entirely in stock designs. All the sports and religious medal companies make only medals of stock designs and produce these continuously. This includes American companies like Dieges & Clust, Robert Stoll, Wendells, and Disanza Brothers. These are in contrast to medallic companies which made only customized medals, like Medallic Art Company, Whitehead and Hoag, Greenduck, Metal Arts, Robbins (and the jewelry firms whose medallic production were offshoots of their jewelry business, like Tiffany & Co, Gorham, Bailey, Banks & Biddle

– or the later "mints" of popular proof surface medals, as Franklin, Lincoln, Hamilton and such).

Stock design histories.  Some stock designs can be traced through a number of later issues back to the earliest original issue. This activity is somewhat to the delight of collectors and is often a serious pursuit of the art historian specializing in medal histories.

Example: an attractive Washington portrait has been utilized for decades as a stock design by the Robbins Company of Attleboro, Massachusetts. It had been issued as a medal in 1929 (for a Boston convention), in 1932 (for the Washington sesquicentennial), in 1939 (for New York World's Fair) and later issues – always muled with a different reverse. But its original use can be traced back to 1925 when it was first issued for the Sons of American Revolution 36th Annual Congress Medal (unless, of course, some even more obscure medal can be found to predate this 1925 issue!).

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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