An engraver might consider a large number of variables when choosing a surface to engrave their next project on. The search doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking – the canvas for your next project could be waiting in your pockets.
Coins are an excellent surface for engraving and can be sanded to a smooth, blank surface or engraved on as is. Original details like text and faces can be retained or modified as the artist chooses. Coins are good for practicing or engraving for fun because they don’t have a lot of surface area. One can commit a little time or a great deal of time to creating a tiny masterpiece. The other benefit to using coins for engraving is the cost; in many cases they can be obtained at face value, making them an inexpensive material for engraving.
Sam Alfano engraved this 1909 penny, surrounding Abe Lincoln with a whorl of scrollwork. His engraving transforms the boring background into a work of art that demands a second look. The darkened scroll lines create a stark contrast that makes the human profile stand out from the penny’s face. Sam added banner tails around the original text, but maintained legibility by leaving empty space around the letters. The banner ends curl in the same direction as the scrolls, flowing harmoniously into the background. Sam’s penny is a wonderful example of coin embellishment, adding value to the piece without erasing the surface’s original identity.
Have you ever tried your hand at engraving coins? Did you choose to modify the details or sand it to a flat surface and start there? We’d love to hear about it! Send photos and story to firstname.lastname@example.org.