Did You Know That U.S. Mint Chief Engraver John Sinnock Died This Week in 1947?

John Sinnock, who served as an engraver at the U.S. Mint for decades in the early-to-mid 20th century, died this week in 1947. His tenure as chief engraver covered an interesting period of American numismatic history, and his body of work includes both relatively obscure medals and a coin used in U.S. commerce every day.

John Ray Sinnock was born in Raton, New Mexico (a village whose name translates from Spanish as “rat”) in the Northeastern corner of the territory, on July 8, 1888. He began his career at the U.S. Mint as an assistant engraver in 1917, serving in this role to 1919. He took over as chief engraver after the death of the numismatically famous George T. Morgan in 1925. Gilroy Roberts succeeded Sinncok in 1948.

Sinnock’s works include many Assay Commission and other U.S. Mint medals, as well as coin designs that include the Roosevelt dime, the commemorative Sesquicentennial gold quarter eagle, and the reverse of the 1918 Illinois commemorative half dollar. He executed the design for the commemorative half dollar marking the Sesquicentennial of American Independence, which had been developed by John Frederick Lewis. U.S. consumers are probably most familiar with the Roosevelt dime design, which has remained essentially unchanged for decades.

In the mid-to-late 1940s, some overzealous anticommunists believed that Sinnock’s “JS” initials, which appeared at the truncation of Roosevelt’s bust on the dime’s obverse, stood for Joseph Stalin.

Sinnock passed away on May 14, 1947.

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