John R. Sinnock

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John R. Sinnock at work on plaster model of Roosevelt dime

John Ray Sinnock (July 8, 1888 – May 14, 1947) was the eighth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1925 to 1947.


Sinnock was the designer of the Roosevelt dime and Franklin half dollar, among other U.S. coins. His initials "JS" on the dime can be found at the base of the Roosevelt bust. He also sculpted, although did not design, the Purple Heart medal, and various other medals and commemorative coins.

Sinnock was born July 8, 1888 in Raton, New Mexico and was educated at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art. He won the A.W. Mifflin Award for study abroad. Sinnock was well-traveled. His longtime confidant was Margaret Campbell who inherited much of his artwork as well as his personal collection of materials related to the development of the Roosevelt Dime.

For ten years Sinnock was an art instructor at both his alma mater and at Western Reserve University. He was appointed Assistant Engraver and Medallist at the Philadelphia Mint in 1917 before becoming the Chief Engraver in 1925.[1]

Urban folklore[edit]

Upon the initial minting of the Roosevelt dime in 1946, a false narrative arose in the United States that the letters "JS" actually stood not for John Sinnock, but for Joseph Stalin. The urban folk story coincided with the Second Red Scare.[2]

Another controversy that surrounded the Roosevelt dime following its public release was an allegation that Sinnock copied or borrowed the design of the Roosevelt profile from a bronze bas relief of FDR created by sculptress Selma H. Burke for the dime's obverse. Sinnock denied this claim and said that the obverse portrait of Mr. Roosevelt was a composite of two studies which he made from life in 1933 and 1934. Sinnock said that he also consulted photographs of FDR and had the advice and criticism of two prominent sculptors who specialize in work in relief.[3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "John R. Sinnock, Coin Designer". The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine: pg. 260. March 15, 1946. 
  2. ^ "Stalin for Dime". Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  3. ^ "John R. Sinnock, Coin Designer". The Numismatic Scrapbook Magazine: pg. 261. March 15, 1946. 
Government offices
Preceded by
George T. Morgan
Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint
Succeeded by
Gilroy Roberts