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Surround.  A supplemental part of a medallic design, always a wreath, forming a separate appurtenance that partly encircles a medal or medallic item. A surround does not form a complete circle (as does a bezel for a coin or medal) but is open at top or bottom for artistic purpose. Its most popular form is an open wreath to frame the medallic item.  The open top wreath is symbolic of victory, success or achievement, the open bottom wreath is symbolic of death and used as a memorial. The surround can be attached, by solder, to the medallic item to become a permanent part of it. (In contrast a bezel is never soldered to the item it encircles.)

A surround is not customarily in the die and struck at the same time (thus it is not an integral part), but it is made separately and later the two are fabricated together. An example was made in 1971. A medal was created for the Puerto Rico Festival of Arts by native sculptor Jose Buscaglia. He also modeled a separate wreath surround, designed to be open at the top and attached to the 3-inch medal making the overall diameter 4 5/8 inches (132mm).  See illustration.

If not custom designed for a specific medal, the medalmaker may furnish a stock

surround that can be applied to any similar-sized medal. In Latin American countries this type of embellishment is used, particularly for OVAL medals. In the jewelry field the term is called a pendant frame; in the award field the medallic item and the surround are often mounted separately, as on a wood plaque, and not soldered together. The trophies of the National Collegiate Athletic Association is an example of this mounting of a surround.

       [UN SEAL]

The wreath around the globe

in the United Nations seal is

a surround – the wreath does

not touch the globe.

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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