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Tool Marks

Tool Marks.  Indentations or ridges on the surface or edge of a medallic item left by engraving, trimming or chasing tools which have not been smoothed out or removed. Light tool marks on raw medals will sometimes disappear in the finishing process, however most tool marks become emphasized by finishing. Large round medals trimmed of flash on a lathe will leave tool marks on the edge from the cutter point in the lathe; these are also called annular rings and will still be visible after finishing. Lettering later removed from a medallic surface – as obliterated names – will often exhibit tool marks. All the above can be soothed or removed by burnishing or chasing.

Tool marks intended by design as a finish are called brightcut. These are where a contrast is desired in the finish and a surface is purposely tooled to have a different reflectiveness from adjacent areas, as satin or proof finish. See brightcut, trimming. Also tool marks intended in the model are a form of creating texture on the surface, often as a contrast to large smooth surface areas.  See texture.

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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