Skip to content


Study.  A trial design for an artistic creation, as a preliminary drawing for an intended medallic or numismatic item; a sketch. Medallic studies may be two-dimensional as a drawing, or three-dimensional as a sketch in clay, plasteline or plaster. Often the design is quickly prepared to test a design concept; no detail is present, but relief is roughly outlined, particularly the device and lettering. Studies for coins and medals are usually done exact size – or oversize – as the size of the intended model. Since the end product is fairly small, studies are never done in miniature – like a maquette of a large statue.

Often an artist will destroy these early studies keeping only the one selected for production. This was the custom, for example, of American sculptor Harold Tovish, whose 1965 creation, Meshed Faces, was one of the first medallic objects and who indeed destroy his unaccepted first prototypes of this innovative creation. Some studies (the French term is étude, the Italian is abbozzo) do survive and are eagerly sought by collectors of important medals.  Clay studies of the U.S. gold coins, created by Augustus St-Gaudens, still exist today and are on display at his museum in Cornish, New Hampshire.  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.