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Panel.  Any compartment or section of a medallic design, separated or segmented by the design itself, or by a frame. Specifically a panel has internal design elements, or lettering, but occasionally is blank (when intended for later inscribing it is called a reserve). Occasionally several panels comprise a medallic design, almost always of the same shape or kind (on one or both sides, this adds uniformity to the design). Some special kinds of panels are listed in the box.

                     Kinds of Panels                      


    annulet or roundel – panel within a circular border

    cartouche – a panel intended for lettering within a  

      frame or decorative border.                         

    diestruck panel – a separate, thin metal panel made   

      to be attached to a larger object.                  

    escutcheon – a shield-shaped panel, as in a coat of  


    exergue – the area below the base line which may or  

      may not contain lettering (or design).              

    dyptych – two art medal panels, separate or hinged.  

    meotope – a square panel, often a square frame       

      enclosing a medallic design.                        

    reserve – an area for inscribing on the finished     

      piece often framed by a cartouche.                  

    raised panel – area raised from the table or         

      background surface.                                 

    sector – division of a circle, cut like a pie.        

    sunken panel – area receding from the table or       

      background surface.                                 

    tryptych – three art medal panels, displayed adjacent

      to each other, or hinged together.                  

The use of a panel within a medallic design can be a function of the design. For example, Alexandre Charpentier used the shape of a violin (called “pandurate”) in a cast bronze piece, Dos de Violon, exhibited at the International Medallic Exhibit of 1910.  (Charpentier, no 7).

Richard McDermott Miller created his Society of Medalist Issue number 112 with a meotope (square frame) on both sides (adding uniformity and continuity to the total design). His design of Escape and Capture is further symbolized by pierced areas open work in the center of the medal and the center of the meotope.

Louis Potter utilized an ornamental arched panel. For the obverse of his Circle of Friends of the Medallion Issue number 7, Abdul Baha, he placed the Persian Reformer's bust within this slightly sunken panel. He repeated the arched panel on the reverse for a robed figure. The repetition of such an element is excellent medallic design as it forms  continuity between obverse and reverse of the same medal.

A Mark Twain Centennial Medal by Julio Kilenyi bears a portrait of Samuel

Langhorne Clemens on a raised panel and the centennial dates in a sunken panel below, both on the same side. (Marqusee Coll 224).

Diestruck and embossed panels.  Goldsmiths and silversmiths have employed decorative panels in distinctive ways. For repeated designs, either on the same object or in a production run of objects, they design a panel and reproduce it. This can be diestruck or embossed and a quantity of these can be made at one time. Then they affix the separate panels to an object like a bowl, platter, tea pot, or such. It saves them time in having to engrave or cast the same design device over and over.

Hungarian-American medalist Moritz Furst created several diestruck panels for use on teapots, a trait he learned in Europe but utilized in America. This technique was mentioned and illustrated in Chris Neuzil's article and catalog on Moritz Furst's American Medals.

Art medal panels.  Altarpieces have been the inspiration for medallic items of multiple separate panels. These multiple panels, designed by art medalists, can lie loose – and displayed adjacent to each other – or even be hinged and freestanding like their namesakes, as two wings folding inward covering the back panel, like a tryptych. Two such panels are called a dyptych, three a tryptych. The box below gives names up to ten. A generic number above one is a polyptych.

   Number of                      

    Panels            Term        


    Two              Dyptych      

    Three            Tryptych     

    Four              Quadraptych  

    Five               Pentaptych   

    Six                 Sexptych     

    Seven            Septptych    

    Eight             Octptych     

    Ten                 Decaptycy    

    More than       Polyptych    



O6   {1911} American Numismatic Society, p 57, illus p 64.

O42 {1996} Marqusee, 224.

O53 {1999} Neuzil (Chris) Moritz Furst's American Medals. In The Medal In America. Volume 2, p 17-118.

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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