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Obsolete.  Not current. Obsolete coins are a type no longer issued. Most obsolete coins retain face value and may remain in circulation but a few such coins in the past have been demonetized – rendered no longer acceptable in commerce at any but scrap value.

Obsolete medals, particularly award medals are those no longer awarded. The cessation of such an item is usually a financial reason – increased costs – or lack of interest in the program, the sponsoring organization going out of existence, or the medal program has served its original purpose and is no longer viable. The existing medals, as the stock of unawarded pieces, often come into collectors’ hands; these are collected along with the awarded medals of the past bearing recipient’s names or other evidence of once being bestowed.

Among orders and decorations, obsolete means an item no longer awarded but some recipients may still be alive and entitled to wear these. As such, in their medal rank obsolete decorations take precedence over current decorations and are given a more honored position when worn or exhibited together. Once all living recipients have died, such obsolete orders and decorations are termed extinct.


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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