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HINTS FOR BEGINNER MEDAL COLLECTORS.


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HINTS FOR BEGINNER MEDAL COLLECTORS.

 

I am a newbie collector and am compiling a modest collection of Art Medals with bicycles or cycling as a theme. Mainly Art Nouveau to Art Deco in the 1880-1940 time-frame. Most are French. In corresponding with some dealers/collectors, I was able to distil some of their helpful replies to a few key bullets that might be of interest to others. Please let me know if you have other comments to add.

 

PRODUCTION METHODS

 

There are two primary methods by which medals are made:

 

Strikes. This is the technique that is most widely used to make medals and coins. Struck medals are formed mechanically by the force of two engraved metal dies pressing the image onto a blank disc of softer metal positioned between. Struck medals can be mass-produced more easily than cast medals.

 

Casting. Casting is generally considered to be the technique that has produced the finest in medallic art. A medal is cast by pouring molten metal into a mold and letting it solidify. The process begins with an artist's sketch from which models are developed. The models may be made from plaster, clay, wax etc. Casting of a medal is often accomplished by a specialist foundry. Preferred metals are gold, silver or, more commonly, a copper alloy such as bronze.

 

OBVERSE/REVERSE

 

The obverse and reverse sides sometimes have different artists. Good medallists were sometimes employed to make quality designs that were used for many medals which meant that overall costs were reduced and quality raised.

 

FORGERIES

 

In this particular market, unless a medal is fairly expensive, forgeries are relatively unusual. Rarely, there might be cast “forgeries” of particularly high-worth items.

 

RE-STRIKES

 

A re-strike is a medal that has been struck from the original dies at a later date. They are common in medals and are really not a problem. If the item is nice and sharp with crisp detail and free of edge nicks, a restrike is just as desirable as an original. It is from the same die and dies last a long time.

 

For example, the Paris Mint commanded a medal to a medallist and purchased the right to strike the medal for eternity. They retained dies of medals dating back many years and sometimes produce restrikes to order.

 

LARGE INITIAL INVENTORY

 

A mint might produce thousands of a particular medal at one time while the engraver was still alive on “speculation” and thus have a large inventory that can sit and wait until a buyer comes up needing medals. It is therefore possible that a medal that was engraved by someone in the late 19th century yet was awarded in 1950.

 

CLEANING

 

Older strikes tend to have an age patina (through oxidation of the bronze), which applies to both bronze and silver medals, if they had not been cleaned. These are better left uncleaned; it may take years before an even patina comes up again. If cleaning is absolutely necessary, use only warm water and very mild soap to remove old grime.

 

REFERENCES

 

The web sites below have many useful references but the “bible” is “Biographical dictionary of medallists; coin, gem, and seal-engravers, mint-masters, &c., ancient and modern” by L. Forrer

 

WEBSITES/EMAILS

 

This is my current compilation of helpful websites. Some of the dealers and other collectors have wonderful advice on their sites.

 

Category Source Web page

Collection Benjamin Weiss www.historicalartmedals.com/default.htm

 

Collection Jean-François Gruez http://pagesperso-orange.fr/zeurg/medailles_collection.htm

 

Collection Jean-François Gruez (Dunlop medal) http://pagesperso-orange.fr/zeurg/med.htm?...9a.jpgbaudichon

 

Collector/

enthusiast Art Nouveau and Art Deco medals www.finemedals.com/artists.htm

 

Collector/

enthusiast Galerie-d-art www.galerie-d-art.info

 

Collector/

enthusiast Iinternational Website of Art Medals www.artmedal.net/

 

Collector/

enthusiast Medals4Trade www.medals4trade.com/

 

Collector/

enthusiast Medals4Trade www.medals4trade.com/collections/

 

Collector/

enthusiast Medals4Trade – Blin cycling medal www.medals4trade.com/collections/displayimage.php?album=165&pos=13

 

Collector/

enthusiast Art Medal Site www.artmedal.be/

 

Dealer P&D Medallions www.pdmedallions.co.uk/index.htm

 

Dealer Professional coin grading service www.pcgs.com/

 

Dealer AAA Historical Americana - World Exonumia www.exonumia.com/art.htm

 

Dealer Charles Riley Coins & Medals http://www.charlesriley.co.uk/index.htm

 

Dealer Simmons Gallery http://simmonsgallery.co.uk/

 

Dealer Timothy Millett www.historicmedals.com/

 

Dealer (eBay) Art medals http://stores.ebay.com/ART-MEDALS

 

Dealer (eBay) Fine medals (Nicolas Maier) www.finemedals.com/

 

Forum Coin Community www.coincommunity.com/forum/

 

Forum Coin People http://coinpeople.com/

 

Forum Collectors Universe http://forums.collectors.com

 

Mint Arthus-Bertrand (French jeweler) www.arthus-bertrand.com/home.php

 

Museum British Museum Department of Coins and Medals www.britishmuseum.org/the_museum/departments/coins_and_medals.aspx

 

Museum Victoria and Albert Museum (Art Nouveau and Art Deco medals) www.vam.ac.uk/collections/sculpture/bayes/modelling/nouveau_deco/index.html

 

Reference Forrer: Biographical Dictionary of Medallists www.digitalbookindex.com/_search/refsearchbiodict.asp

 

Reference AAA Historical Americana – mint marks www.exonumia.com/art/art_04.htm

 

Society American Numismatic Society www.numismatics.org/

 

Society Medal Collectors of America www.medalcollectors.org/

 

Society Medallic Art Society of Canada www.nunetcan.net/masc/masc.htm

 

Society Token and Medal Society www.tokenandmedal.org/index.htm

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"A re-strike is a medal that has been struck from the original dies at a later date. They are common in medals and are really not a problem. If the item is nice and sharp with crisp detail and free of edge nicks, a restrike is just as desirable as an original. It is from the same die and dies last a long time"

 

 

An original strike is more valuable than a re-strike. Do not believe anyone that tells you different. The Paris mint generally edge marks their re-strikes and the patination itself is normally a give away especially on napoleonic & earlier french medals.

 

Plus patina is often applied during the manufacture of a medal & will never come back once removed.

LINK Good site for the re-strike story

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