7 Things You Need To Know About The Collection Of Historical Medallions

Sarah Heath

7 Things You Need To Know About The Collection Of Historical Medallions

1- What’s the difference between a coin and a medallion?

Medallions vs Coin

Numismatics tends to be thought of primarily as the study of coins, however an important branch of this hobby is a focus on medals or medallions.

2- What’s the difference between medals and medallions?

Medals are often suspended from a ribbon and awarded to people for their services, such as war medals. Medallions tend to be larger and are often commemorative. That is, they commemorate an historical event or notable person. As they are often larger in size, they also tend to be more decorative and can show off the engraver’s artistic talent.

3- Who first produced the medal?

Who first produced the medal

The first medallions were produced by the Romans.

They were not used for currency, were larger in size and were often presented by the Emperor to important people of the time.

They were most commonly made out of copper but in some cases silver and gold.

The next era of medallion production began during the Renaissance period in Italy and spread through Europe during the 15th and 16th century. Medals started to be produced in England during the reign of King Henry VIII.

4- The attraction of medal collecting - the artistry and the history.

The attraction of medal collecting - the artistry and the history

The collection of medals or medallions can have two attractions.

The first being its artistic merit or beauty and the detailed work of the designer or engraver. The medallion can be seen in some respects as a piece of art and can be appreciated in a similar way as to a picture or painting.

The second attraction is the historical significance of each medallion, and it can lead the collector to discover not only about the special event or the notable person that the medal was designed for but in some cases the initial recipient of the medal and their story.

5- What type of medallions to collect?

What type of medallions to collect

What to collect can be a daunting prospect when faced with the vast selection of medallions that were produced over the last 400 years. It often helps to have an area of focus, especially one that interests you.

I have created a menu of events on this website to help group series of medals that can form the start of a collection.

Royal occasions, Military events, Explorers, Politicians can be collected in groups or series of medals such as the City of London series or the Art Union series commemorating English artists. 

6- The importance of condition

Historical Medallions Condition

The value of a medallion is generally based on its rarity and its condition. Any scratches, knocks or stains will affect the condition of the medal and it will be less desirable to the collector.

Given the fact that the medallion hasn’t been in general circulation like currency, a flawless condition is often what collectors look for.

The less handled the better, not even to clean, as this can sometimes lead to surface wear, and if the medal develops a patina over time, this is seen as a favourable indicator of not being touched or cleaned at all. 


7- Common grading terms

Medallions Common Grading Terms

The highest grading of a medal is FDC (Fleur de coin) which means that the medal is flawless and as it was when it was first produced.

Medallions in this condition are very difficult to find! The next level down is EF (Extremely fine), followed by GEF (Good extremely fine) which indicates only a small amount of wear.

Then we get to VF (very fine) which has slightly more wear, and GVF (good very fine) which is another level down again.

Most collectors would seek out medals that are GVF and above. The levels below GVF are Fine, Fair and Poor and their values will reflect these conditions accordingly. 

Grading Terms Table

Fleur de coin  - Medal is flawless
Extremely fine - No visible flaws, but has been in circulation
Good extremely fine - Small amount of wear
Very fine - Slightly more wear
Good very fine - Slightly more wear

Numismatics continues to be a worldwide hobby across all cultures and ages.

Historical Medallions Worldwide

The internet has allowed medal dealers and numismatists to connect globally like never before.

Historical medallions is here to help collectors find what they’ve been searching for, promising quality and a range of British Historical medallions that should interest many different areas of interest.

The majority are antique commemorative medals, from the 17th century through to the end of the 19th century, each one with it’s own story and historical significance to treasure for years to come.



Historical Medallions Infographic

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