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Truncation – How Portraits Fit on Coins

The Bust Truncation of a 1936 Lincoln Cent. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.
The Bust Truncation of a 1936 Lincoln Cent. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

(n.)

Truncation on coins can refer to the following things:

1.) The shortened part of a more complete object, such as a bust. The truncation is typically the bottom of an image; in the case of a bust, this might be a neck or the breast.

2.) The act of shortening or truncating a bust or other similar design element.

On modern coins, it is not uncommon to find designer or sculptor’s initials below or literally “in” the truncation, such as on the Lincoln cent or the Jefferson nickel. The truncation of Liberty’s neck on the obverse of the Morgan silver dollar is considered to be a particularly aesthetically pleasing example (at least according to art scholar Cornelius Vermeule in his 1971 work Numismatic Art in America).

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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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