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HomeNumismatic TermsMedal Alignment - One Way to Orient Obverse and Reverse

Medal Alignment – One Way to Orient Obverse and Reverse

2024 Army Silver Medal. Medal Turn is illustrated. Image: CoinWeek / U.S. Mint.
2024 Army Silver Medal. Medal Turn is illustrated. Image: CoinWeek / U.S. Mint.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

(n.)

To say that a numismatic object–specifically a round object made of metal with designs engraved on two faces–is in medal alignment means that the obverse and reverse are aligned the same way. Medal alignment differs from coin alignment as the obverse and reverse of a medal generally face the same direction, whereas coins “usually” have the reverse “upside down” relative to the obverse – oriented at 180 degrees to each other.

As for why medals are oriented with both sides facing the same direction, many are intended as decoration and therefore suspended on a ribbon. If someone were to examine both sides of the medal while in use (pinned on someone’s chest or draped from their neck, for example), the viewer would not flip the medal upwards (along the vertical axis) to see the reverse; instead, they would merely turn it over (along the horizontal axis). Having both sides oriented this way provides for a “common sense” viewing experience.

Additional terms used to describe the same concept are “medallic orientation” and “medal turn”.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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