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Appliqué.  Extra applied ornamentation; separate ornamental pieces of a design – such as tree branches or angel wings – which are soldered to a base medal forming the completed design. The use of an appliqué gives greater dimension or relief to an otherwise low relief medallic design; while the base medal can have no undercuts (struck or cast), by applying separate added ornamentation this gives overhang or projected relief to the total medallic design. This technique differs from inlay (in which a separate piece is added but below the surface), and impressed (again added but struck into the surface by the force of striking). While the name of the added part is called “appliqué,” this is also the term for the total medal after the pieces are added; it is also called a fabricated medal (for the additional work performed on it).

Hans Reinhard the Elder (active 1535-74), a German Renaissance medallist and goldsmith, was the first major practitioner of appliqué medals. He applied tree branches to a 1536 medal, The Fall and Crucifixion, showing Adam, Eve with apple in hand, both under the apple tree. He applied curls to the beard on the portrait of Duke Maurice of Saxony (on the so-called Dreifaltigkeit Medal, 1544), which also has the crucifix and scepter applied to the obverse design.

Appliqués are just as infrequently employed on modern medals as Renaissance creations. Examples do exist, however: a satirical medal of World War I, William the Last Medal, 1918, shows Kaiser Wilhelm in muzzle with an appliqué chain.

Appliqués are not any form of mounting, as ball feet, bezels or loops for hanging. Instead they are an integral part of the design but struck or cast separately and attached to the medallic item.


E3 Forrer 5:76-86.

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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