Uniface. A single-sided medallic item; a numismatic item with a blank reverse; detail and design appearing on one side only. A struck piece particularly is called uniface; a cast piece is more apt to be called single-sided. Many medallic items – plaques, paperweights and badges – are almost always uniface; medallions and seals are frequently so, but the term can rightfully be applied to any medallic or numismatic item with design on one side only – the obverse. In describing such items the reverse of a uniface item is called blank reverse, flat back or plain reverse.Many uniface items have mounting or supporting features on the back, as paperweights often have ball feet on the back to support them on a desk; plaques have hangers on the back for hanging on a wall; and badges have fasteners on the back for attaching to garments. Some die-struck medallic items may have a border or rim on the back (struck from a blank die with such a border or rim). Also many uniface items have a maker’s mark, a foundry mark or hallmark on the back side. All these features do not detract from the status of the item from being uniface. The design is on the principal side –the obverse – the reverse is devoid of design.Some medallic items will never be uniface. An example might be a medal with a swivel loop (there would be no need to turn over such a medal to observe the reverse only to find nothing there). Most art medals or any quality medal will obviously have two sides, to exploit the medallic medium to its fullest, these would never be uniface.The only need for a medallic item to be uniface is where in the normal course of its use or display it would exhibit one side only, the back would always be obscured from view, as one framed or intended to be hung on a wall.It should be noted uniface medals should never be confused with clichés (two thin blanks struck at the same time to form separate obverse and reverse pieces); these are uniface but the interface sides will exhibit suction marks which should correctly identify these as clichés. Finally, in proving dies, led proofs are always uniface when dies are proved one die at a time.
excerpted with permission from
For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators
COMPILED AND WRITTEN BY D. WAYNE JOHNSON
Roger W. Burdette, Editor