Dick Johnson submitted this entry from his Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Terminology. Thanks. -Editor
Sculpture. The art of three-dimensional images and objects, carved, modeled or molded into reliefs or art in-the-round. Sculpture had but a small application to
numismatics prior to the development of the die-engraving pantograph. Only infrequently had sculptors aided coin designers by providing a model from which hand engravers would copy by hand cutting
the dies. (This would be indicated by two signatures, one followed by MOD, or SC, which specified the artist who furnished the bas-relief model.) But with the widespread use of the die-engraving
pantograph (beginning in the late 19th century and worldwide by 1920) the majority of coin and medal creating passed from the hand die engraver to the sculptor. It is the sculptor who creates
oversize models in relief – one obverse and one reverse – which would be reduced mechanically on the pantograph to the desired size dies. Thus sculpture and sculptors have a very strong influence and
active participation in the numismatic and medallic fields.
With the advent of computer engraving early in the 21st century the involvement of the sculptor has been reduced. While the computer engraver creates modulated relief, as does the sculptor, his
designs may not equal those of the sculptor. This is but one of the criticisms attributed to computer engraving.
Also the abbreviation SC, SCULP or similar term often appears in the signature of a print or engraving on paper..This applies to the carving of the flat printing plate (outside the scope of this
work); it does not imply any carving of modulated relief on these plates. These are created by a different artist (only the rare artist exists who could do both flat engraving and actual sculpture
in-the-round – one is two-dimensional graphic, the other is three-dimensional glyptic.)
References: All works listed in Class A in Bibliography.
Looking for the meaning of a numismatic word, or the description of a term? Try the Newman Numismatic Portal's Numismatic Dictionary at: https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/dictionary
Wayne Homren, Editor
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