Medal

DEFINITION

A flat piece of metal that is embossed or engraved with a design, and intended to honor or remember a person or event. Medals are usually coin-shaped. The front or primary side is known as the obverse, and the back or secondary side as the reverse.Examples:French, Bust of Louis XIV (1644-1712), silver medal, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris. See Baroque, engraving, and portrait.France, St. Christopher Medal, early 20th century, British Museum, London. According to legend, St. Christopher was a strong man who served Christ by carrying travelers across a river, and on one occasion carried a small child who eventually revealed his identity. Wearing such a medal as this, many have believed, will protect them when travelling, making it also an amulet. On the medal's obverse is a traditional representation of the saint carrying Christ. On the reverse is an early automobile, along with an inscription meaning, "Look at St. Christopher and travel strengthened." The Roman Catholic Church officially withdrew sainthood from St. Christopher in 1969. Paul Manship (American, 1886-1966), John F. Kennedy Inaugural Medal (see thumbnail to leftobverse and reversesee thumbnail to right), 1961, bronze, National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.Also see American Watercolor Society (AWS), exonumia, and memorial.

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