1. BULLION MEDALS, ROUNDS A medallic item issued not for its commemorative, historical, souvenir or art design aspect, but for the bullion it contains. When these are circular they are called by the unimaginative name of “rounds.”
2. CHALLENGE COINS Created for members of a military unit, a custom-designed medal of roughly silver-dollar size to be carried by members or supporters of that unit.
3. ART MEDALS A medallic item made from artists’ models, generally multiple struck and given a patina finish to enhance its total appearance.
4. AWARD MEDALS A medallic item bestowed upon a recipient in a contest, race, game or other sporting event, or for the participation in a group effort in some notable activity.
5. MILITARY MEDALS The full spectrum of medals issued by or for the military, including campaign, service medals, wound medals, and decorations of honor. Such medals issued for American military are administrated by the Institute of Heraldry and it is necessary to remain on their bid list to be notified when these medals are required.
6. ANNIVERSARY MEDALS A medallic item issued on the occasion of a significant anniversary; this includes product anniversaries as well as the anniversary of the issuer organization to memorialize its founding and long-term existence.
7. PLAQUETTES A square, rectangular, or nearly so, medallic item smaller than eight inches (or more precisely, 20 centimeters), it is an art object struck from a die bearing a bas-relief design. When such an item is greater than 8 inches and less than 24 inches it is cast and called a PLAQUE; larger than 24 inches it is a TABLET.
8. MEDALLIONS A large medal, round or nearly so, greater than 80 millimeters (3 3/16-inch). Naïve people think the larger the medal the greater its importance. Not true. Importance comes from the status of the sculptor-medalist, the rendition of his bas-relief design and its execution.
9. DECORATIONS, DECORATIONS OF HONOR An elite class of medals, usually those of exceptional design, embellishment and composition – including suspension by ribbons – bestowed for exceptional service or tenure, and sometimes granted the recipient special privileges.
10. MEDALLIC OBJECTS A work of art inspired by the medallic genre. There are few restrictions on medallic objects or their creation, other than perhaps, they must be permanent, capable of being reproduced, usually made of metal and, in most issues, have multiple sides. They are MODERN ART objects.
11. SO-CALLED DOLLARS Originally political medals struck in silver similar to a United States silver dollar including such items as Bryant dollars (1896, 1900) and Lesher or Referendum dollars (1900–1901). Later the term was corrupted to include any medal similar in size and relief – but not necessarily similar in composition – to the U.S. silver dollar (1 1/2-inch or 38mm). It could be considered a SOUVENIR MEDAL.
12. ART BARS, COINED INGOTS Bullion items issued in shape and imitation of ingots; design is not that important since, ultimately, they will be melted for their metal content. The term “art” in the name misleads most people, however they are widely collected.
13. CONVENTION MEDALS, CONVENTION BADGES, LADY’S BADGES A medallic item, often of fraternal nature, bestowed upon delegates of a convention or meeting. Usually attached to ribbons and headers, convention badges were often designed with several components: bars, drops, pendants and such. All are intended to be worn, thus they have some method of fixing to a garment. Medallic Art Company invented a lady’s badge of half size for the American Numismatic Association and made a COLLECTOR SET of four medals (without loops) struck in two metals (bronze, silver) of the two sizes.
14. RELIGIOUS MEDALS A most popular theme with a heritage extending back in history for hundreds of years. Like religious paintings, religious medals portray Saints with rules of depicting them with halos and rays. Catholic religion encourages wearing medallic items around the neck.
15. CROSSES A medallic item with several arms; often in the form of a crucifix. The use of a cross for a medallic item has wide appeal, mostly for its symbolism of Christianity and talismanic quality.
16. CAMEOS An oval medal in raised relief usually bearing a portrait, in similitude to a carved shell cameo; by extension raised relief, particularly a small relief handcut with background cutaway.
17. JEWELRY ITEMS, BIJOUS A highly decorative medallic item intended to be worn, often worked into a piece of excellent craftsmanship with a frame of jewels surrounding the relief item.
18. BADGES A medallic item intended to be worn, often of heraldic shape and emblematic design, greater than one-inch diameter with some form of fastening to cap or clothing.
19. CHARMS A small medallic item, of less than one inch diameter, with a loop and intended to be worn.
20. MEDALETES, MINIATURE MEDALS A small medal less than one inch diameter, not intended to be worn, and obviously, without a loop.
21. TOKENS, GOOD-FORS A substitute for a coin, usually struck in metal with a denomination – or some indication of value – near the size and form of a coin. Often in place of a denomination it will state “good for” some form of merchandise or service.
22. PENDANTS A medallic or jewelry item intended to be worn suspended from a chain, ribbon or the like, as from around the neck.
23. KEY TAG MEDALS Utilization of a medal to put on a ring of keys; they are always looped or holed; better key tag medals are struck in nickel-silver for its hard-wearing qualities.
24. MARDI GRAS DOUBLOONS, ALUMINUM THROWS A light-weight, low-cost medal intended to be thrown to spectators from parade floats or such. Aluminum is ideal and not a too-heavy a projectile; most of these medals are anodized to give them color.
25. LAPEL PINS, EMBLEMS A small medallic item for wearing in the lapel buttonhole of a garment, their unusual shape and color help identify the issuer of the pin.
26. INSIGNIA A symbolic device of distinctive shape and three dimensions indicating rank, office or honor, most often intended to be worn.
27. CALENDAR MEDALS A medallic item in which a calendar of one or more months (usually 6 or 12) is incorporated into the design.
28. ZODIAC MEDALS A celestial constellation, twelve in number and forming a belt around the sky, appearing on numismatic and medallic items; they are symbolized by animals and are the basis of astrology.
29. PINS, PINBACKS A small medallic item, less than one inch diameter, usually uniface, with clasp or stem and catch, intended to be worn.
30. SPORTS MEDALS A prize medal or medal of sports theme; other than Olympic medals which fall in this category, sports medals are notorious for poor design, poor quality and cheaply made. Opportunity exists for upgrading this entire class.
31. FRATERNAL MEDALS Fraternal organizations, notably the Masons, but all others as well, have a long history of issuing medals for members and many functions.
32. COIN-MEDALS, TOKEN-MEDALS A medal made like a coin or token – struck in a coining press on an upset blank with low-relief coining dies.
33. BROOCHES A large insignia, badge or medallic jewelry item with a clasp on the reverse to be attached to a garment or hat.
34. HISTORICAL MEDALS A medallic item which commemorates some historical event, as contrasted with those medals of purely artistic nature, or those of completely commercial nature (as a card). Most always bears a date.
35. TWO-PART, MULTI-PART MEDALS A medallic item of two or more separate unattached parts which form the complete item.
36. INAUGURAL, DEDICATION MEDALS A medallic item issued on the occasion of a new administration, era or term.
37. PORTRAIT MEDALS A medallic item bearing a portrait as the principal device.
38. SATIRICAL MEDALS A medallic item whose theme is basically humorous, often cutting or critical much like an editorial cartoon.
39. SOUVENIR MEDALS A medallic memento; a medal issued in honor of a public celebration or event.
40. EXPOSITION MEDALS A medallic item bestowed either as a prize for a display or activity at an exposition or fair, or one issued for attendance or purely to commemorate the occurrence of the event.
41. POLITICAL MEDALS A medallic item primarily issued for a political campaign, often containing one or more portraits of candidates, campaign slogans and symbols.
42. MEMORIAL MEDALS A person honored by his portrait or name appearing on a medallic item after his death.
43. GRAND PRIX MEDALS A French term for a highest ranking prize medal
44. MEDALS IN SERIES An issue of a number of numismatic or medallic items with a common theme or design and a continuity in their issue.
45. KEYSTONE MEDALS A medal associated with a series but with a feature different from all others in the series.
46. CORNERSTONE MEDALS A medallic item placed with other objects in a cornerstone or other place in the foundation when erecting a new building.
47. MAP SHAPE MEDALS Silhouetted medallic items in the shape of some geographic entity, as country, state, province or region.
48. ADVERTISING REPLICAS An award medal in which the recipient individual or organization has medals struck in similitude to the original medal and distributes these as a form of self-promotion.
49. STOCK MEDALS A medallic item made up in advance and on hand for use by anyone; not a custom medal.
50. SEALS A metallic bas-relief object, much like a medal, the possession and use of which indicates authority or a medallic item whose principal device is a seal or trademark.
51. LUCKY CHARMS A medallic item intended to be carried by a person, the item purporting to bring good luck.
52. AMULETS A talismanic medal to ward off evil or illness, usually intended to be worn around the neck, intended for very superstitious people.
53. SERVICE MEDALS A medallic item of any size which is bestowed upon an employee or member of a group for length of service to that business or organization
54. SERVICE PINS A pin or emblem bestowed upon an employee or member of a group for length of service to that organization; usually such pins bear a number indicating the years of service.
55. RETIREMENT MEDALS A medallic item designed for bestowing to a person for long service, not a gold watch, give a medal.
56. PERSONAL MEDALS In a broad sense, a medallic item with a person’s portrait or about a specific person.
57. PRIZE MEDALS Any form of medallic item used as an award in a contest, race or game where there is competitive action and more than one contestant.
58. MARRIAGE MEDALS, WEDDING ANNIVERSARY MEDALS A medallic item issued on the occasion of a marriage or on the anniversary of a marriage.
59. BIRTH AND BAPTISMAL MEDALS A medallic item issued on the occasion of a birth of a child or of its baptism; usually the design shows an infant, a baptismal font, or the Christ child.
60. AVIATION AND SPACE MEDALS From ballooning to the latest space launch this theme covers a wide range of air transportation; very popular. Look for medals to be made from the first metal alloy to be made is space (without gravity) which cannot be combined on earth (like aluminum and gold).
61. MEDICAL MEDALS Any medallic item with a medical or health theme; extremely popular theme and the subject of medal series, collections, catalogs and books written about the subject.
62. GARDEN CLUB AND HORTICULTURE MEDALS Local garden clubs are known for awarding medals for growing prize flowers and for garden arrangements; by extension horticultural medals are awarded for more serious or professional activity.
63. ARCHITECTURE MEDALS Virtually any medal which contains a building in its design, plus any medal issued by an architectural organization.
64. RELIC MEDALS A numismatic or medallic item formed from metal or other material which was previously an artifact of a different form.
65. UNUSUAL COMPOSITION MEDALS Struck on a blank made of a material not normally used for making medals, the usual compositions are: bronze, copper, silver, gold, copper-nickel, nickel silver.
66. PRODUCT MEDALS A medallic item made of a composition that is the business product of the issuing firm.
67. EMBOSSED SHELLS Any form of relief created by pressure from behind, as hammering with hand tools or striking with dies.
68. TALISMANS A medallic object of superstitious design intended to be carried to ward off evil; they are often more grotesque, more symbolic and more widely used than amulets or lucky charms.
69. COSTUME JEWELRY MEDALS An imitation decoration or medallic item made to wear on costumes and fake uniforms, most often for use in theatrical productions.
70. ANIMAL MEDALS Widely popular, the issuing of medals depicting animals will never end; the critical point is the design, the animals must be shown in a realistic pose and setting.
71. ENGINEERING MEDALS Construction of everything requires an engineer; medals can be designed to honor this activity.
72. NAVAL MEDALS Show a ship on a medal, from a canoe to a battleship and it is the desire of every naval collector to own that medal.
73. MASONIC MEDALS Masonic was mentioned among Fraternal Medals above, but it bears its own slot of medallic products. Masonic “pennies” were issued to every member who carried his own medal as a pocket piece. So pervasive is the number of Masonic medals there are two museums in America (more in Europe) of nothing but Masonic medals.
74. SCOUTING: BOY SCOUTS, GIRL SCOUT MEDALS Medallic Art Company was an early medal supplier to the Boy Scout movement, by designing and striking some of the early badges (in the 1920s!). Millions of medals later, there is wide demand for any scouting item.
75. RAILROAD MEDALS The author could have said “transportation medals,” but there is a strong nostalgia for railroads, thus the appeal of any medal showing a railroad engine or theme.
76. COIN CLUB AND NUMISMATIC MEDALS What should be the leading groups for fine art medals is just the opposite, as most coin club medals are not quality at all, but accepted by naïve collectors. A genuine opportunity exists here to raise the bar!
77. GAMING CHIPS Joe Segal and his Franklin Mint made a million (dollars and medals) by producing casino chips for Vegas and other locations. Imitators are now making gaming chips, not of metal, but of a clay composition.
78. WEAPONS AND ARMOR MEDALS The appeal of this category is very strong among their devotees. Easy to reach through their national organization.
79. GALLANTRY MEDALS A medallic item bestowed for noble and chivalrous behavior; early such medals were bestowed to knights, in modern times more so to heroes of military action.
80. VETERAN’S MEDALS Servicemen returning from military service have been given medals it seems like forever. Napoleon made this a major activity, and in America following World War I hundreds of states, cities and local organizations had medals made for local veterans.
81. SURVIVOR’S MEDALS A medal bestowed to a living relative of a military or naval person killed in the service.
82. MILITARY UNIT BADGES A pin identifying a military organization, highly emblematic and usually enameled.
83. CAP BADGES An insignia, a medallic item with a device on the reverse to attached it to headgear.
84. CARDS, STORECARDS A numismatic item issued as an advertisement by the sponsor or issuer; its called a storecard when the issuer is a retailer.
85. SPINNER MEDALS A medal or token used in games of chance which has a pointer on one side and a center projection point on the other allowing it to rotate or spin on a flat surface.
86. OPTICAL ILLUSION SPINNER MEDALS A medal which when spun both obverse and reverse appear as one view, also called edge spinner.
87. KEYS, PHI BETA KAPPA KEYS A charm shaped like a small tubular key usually indicating membership in a scholarly, fraternal or scientific organization.
88. ADILLIONS A small Jewish bullion proof surface medal mounted in a bezel for wearing as jewelry, invented in Israel.
89. FOBS, WATCHFOBS A special pendant medal with a wide loop worn by men usually attached to a leather strap, or to a metal chain to a pocket watch, what was once called a fob seal. The rise of use of wristwatches diminished the need for such fobs.
90. PAPERWEIGHTS A medallic item intended for use on desktop to hold down papers, also called deskweights.
91. NAMEPLATES A metallic item bearing a name, often with other data, usually in rectangular shape.
92. PLATE INSERTS A medallic item attached to a metal plate; made as a gift item for women or plate collectors.
93. BOX MEDALS, SCREW MEDALS A medal machined in such a way that it has a hollow center – or one made of two sides with a hollowed inside – made to open up to reveal the inside chamber much like a locket; it is called a “screw medal” when the two sides are machined with threads that screw together.
94. TILES Thin square medals which are mounted in quantity on a flat surface, much like ceramic tiles, often of interlocking design.
95. BRELOQUES Adapting a portion of a large medallic design for a small portion to form a new medallic item.
96. SIGNET MEDALS A medal used like a signet ring to press into molten wax to make a wax seal.
97. ANAGLYPHS A small bas-relief item, as an art object in similitude to a cameo, gem, or other three-dimensional relief that is cast, carved, or chased.
98. WAFERS A very thin small metallic piece usually with design on one side only; their thickness is about one millimeter, gold bullion wafers have been made.
99. TROPHY HOUSE MEDALS A medallic item, often a stock item, with a design of a particular sport or event, poorly designed and cheaply made. You can’t make them cheap enough to suit these merchants.
100. ASSASSINATION MEDALS A memorial medal issued following the killing of a leader, ruler or president, for the next JFK, Bobby Kennedy, or Martin Luther King.
101. TSUBAS Japanese sword guard; the protective guard between the blade of a sword and the handle; these are essentially medallions with an aperture for the sword blade to pass through. Tsuba makers developed similar techniques as design, plating and finishing as art medals made in the western world.