Variety of Techniques

As the art of the medal flourished across Europe, artists experimented with diverse techniques. The simplest was casting (pouring molten metal into a mold, see video). With the development of the screw press in the early sixteenth century, striking (shaping a blank metal disk between two dies using great force), which had been used since antiquity to mint coins, allowed coins and medals to be made in larger sizes, with higher relief, and with more precision than ever before (see no. 64).

Seventeenth-century Dutch artists favored a technique of soldering together two thin shells (made by casting and at times by repoussé) to create a hollow double-sided medal (see no. 84). The single shell depicting Charles X Gustav Vasa (no. 86) shows the thinness of the cast metal. The Swiss medalist Jean Dassier seems to have been the first to use the technique of partial gilding on medals, which allowed only parts of a medal to be gilded for dramatic visual effect (see no. 133). The method employed by Simon de Passe resembles engraving (a printmaking technique). His Queen Anne medal (no. 119), which bears imagery on both sides, may have been produced by stamping (hammering a matrix, or stamp, into a metal surface to indent a design).


  • Silver medal depicting a man on a rearing steed in front of troops and a walled cityscape

    Sebastian Dadler (1586–1657)
    Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1608; r. 1637–57), dated 1649
    Silver, struck
    Diam.: 3 1/16 in. (7.76 cm)
    The Frick Collection; Gift of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher, 2016

    Cat. 64

  • Silver portrait medal of Charles II, King of England with long hair and thin mustache, wearing armor, a large neck cloth with bow, and the Order of the Garter

    Pieter van Abeele (1608–1684)
    Charles II, King of England (b. 1630; r. 1660–85), dated 1660
    Silver, cast
    Diam.: 2 11/16 in. (6.85 cm)
    The Frick Collection; Gift of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher, 2016

    Cat. 84

  • Silver portrait medal of King Charles X Gustavus Vasa of Sweden standing in the foreground with a city in the background

    Attributed to Pieter van Abeele (1608–1684)
    Charles X Gustav Vasa, King of Sweden (b. 1622; r. 1654–60), dated 1660
    Silver, cast
    2 9/16 × 2 1/8 in. (6.54 × 5.47 cm)
    Scher Collection

    Cat. 86

  • Silver portrait medal of Queen Anne crowned, with jewels in her hair, wearing a stiff lace collar, pearl earrings, a pearl necklace with pendant, and a gown with a low neckline (trimmed with lace and exposing her décolletage)

    Simon de Passe (1595–1647)
    Queen Anne (b. 1574; Queen Consort of Scotland 1589–1619; Queen Consort of England and Ireland 1603–19), ca. 1616
    Silver, stamped (?)
    2 1/4 × 1 13/16 in. (5.69 × 4.55 cm) (including gold frame but excluding top loop)
    Scher Collection; Promised gift to The Frick Collection

    Cat. 119

  • Partially gilt bronze medal of a man in profile to the right

    Jean Dassier (1676–1763)
    George I, King of Great Britain (b. 1660; r. 1714–27), and George II, King of Great Britain (b. 1683; r. 1727–60), dated 1727
    Copper alloy (partial gilt), struck
    Diam.: 1 1/4 in. (3.17 cm)
    Scher Collection; Promised gift to The Frick Collection

    Cat. 133

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