• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.

Purple Heart Coins
1 1

8 posts in this topic

Hi All,

Just received the Uncirculated Half (Clad) and the Uncirculated Silver Dollar.  Beautiful coins.  The artistry is excellent.  (I have the proofs also.)

Both coins I received have a 'ding' in them.  The Silver dollar has a dent in the ribbon, and the Half has a dent in the obverse part of the rim.  Waaa!!

Ok... Opinion time: Do I send them back and hope they give me better ones (if they have them in stock)? Or cut my losses assuming they don't have better ones?  What has been your experience?

God Bless,


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who designed the modern purple heart medal? Here's a little help....

A letter appeared in Time Magazine on June 16, 1947 in which Elizabeth Will, an employee of the Heraldry Section, War Department, claimed she was designer of the Purple Heart medal. The medal was authorized in 1932, and Ms. Will’s claim was only put forth after the death of the real designer, US Mint Engraver John R Sinnock.

Following is some additional information clearly establishing that Mr. Sinnock designed the modern Purple Heart medal.

The Mint now also is making rapid delivery of “Order of the Purple Heart” medals, an award made to men wounded in action.

This medal, considered by experts one of the most beautiful ever produced in this country, was authorized for Army personnel in [February 22] 1932, the Centennial year of the birth anniversary of George Washington, to whom tradition attributes for the founding of the Order. It was authorized for use of the sea forces by an Executive Order [9277] of December 3, 1942.

John Sinnock, Chief Engraver of the Mint, won a $1,500 award in national design competition following Congressional authorization for the medal in 1932. As being turned out by the Mint today, the medal is a purple heart made of plastic superimposed upon a larger heart of gold plated sterling silver . In the center of the Purple Heart is a bust of George Washington, and above it is an enameled shield. [Treasury department July 29, 1943. Release No. 37-74]


In a publication titled “Insignia and Decorations of the U.S. Armed Forces,” page 51, it was stated that the Purple Heart medal was “designed by Elizabeth Will and modeled by John R. Sinnock.”

Mint director Ross asked Sinnock for a full report on design of the medal, and he responded as follows.

“I have gone through the above mentioned publication and respectfully submit the following corrections, addition, etc.

            “(a) Page 51 – The designs for the Purple Heart. I quote from the first letter to me dated May 8, 1931 from L. H. Bash, Brigadier General, Q.M.C., Acting Quartermaster General:

            ‘In accordance with the desire of the War Department to revive the Badge of Military Merit established by Gen. George Washington at Newburg, August 7, 1782, designs for an appropriate device are desired….

            ‘You have been suggested by the Commission of Fine Arts as one who may be interested in furnishing a design and from whom this office should request designs. It is requested that alternative designs be submitted, one to be for execution in plain metal, and one in color or colors….

            ‘It is hoped that you will submit a design or designs in pursuance of the foregoing.’

            “In accordance with this invitation I submitted my designs, rendered to show them both with and without enamel.

“My designs were chosen and on July 16, 1931, I received a contract from the Philadelphia Depot Quartermaster to prepare sculptured models from my designs. I have in my possession these original designs marked approved by the Commission of Fine Arts, and signed by Mr. Caemmerer, Secretary. This Commission no doubt has on file the names of the other contestants [Gaetana Cecere and Thomas H. Jones – ed.] who submitted designs and can verify the fact that I designed this decoration.

            “The requirements given to me were simply that the medal was to be heart-shaped and must incorporate a portrait of Washington in uniform and his coat of arms at the top.

            “If Mr. DuBois’ office [Heraldic Section, War Department] did some preliminary work in establishing the above-mentioned requirements, it was unknown to me. Frankly, I was astounded when I saw the National geographic publication, giving credit to an Elizabeth Will for designing this medal, of whom I have never heard before.

            “ It is obvious that no such an amount as $1,500 would be offered for merely preparing sculptured models of a design already prepared. The award was made on the merits of the designs on paper which were submitted by the contestants, and the winner then prepared his sculptured models from his design, these again being passed upon by the National Commission of Fine Arts, according to standard procedure. After its release, it was given wide publicity in newspapers and magazines in all parts of the country with illustrated articles, naming me as the designer. If there was any question about the matter, it certainly should have been raised at that time. Not a word was heard to my knowledge.”

[Wyoming State Archives, H-81-1 Edniss Kimball Wilkins papers, box 10. US Mint Director, Jan 1947 - May 1947. Letter dated March 12, 1947 to Gilbert Grosvenor, Editor, National geographic Society from Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director fo the Mint. Excerpt. Adolph A Weinman was a member of the Commission of Fine Art and confirmed Sinnock’s comments in a letter reporting a phone conversation of June 21, 1947 with Director Ross.]

Edited by RWB
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's prob going to be hard for ppl to offer opinions w/o some good pics of both sides of each.

Sounds like you bought raw Unc or BU coins, and to me that means they would grade MS-60 or better.  Ask yourself if that could act happen at the mint or in storage if older. You can also check Photograde for some example MS grade conditions for those coins.

I have bought a bunch of raw coins from some of the larger dealers, and there were a few I wasn't happy with (scrapes, spots, or dings, etc). I notified them immediately with pics and requested an exchange (varies, but usually has to be within a certain number of days).

I sent them back, asked them to be more careful with the replacement, and was happy with what i received in the end. Your mileage may vary, but I would at least notify them if your not happy, even if you keep them in the end.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Interesting history.  Thank you.

The coins were received from the us mint yesterday, not a dealer.  I would think they would send highest quality coins.  I know I cannot send them to NGC because the wounds are so obvious.  

So, the question remains: send them back for a replacement or keep them?  Has it been your experience that they send better coins or tough luck?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Return the coins for replacement.

FYI - the Mint ships coins but does not examine each piece. Everything is handled by machines. It is only when you return a damaged coin that a person examines the coins and selects replacements. The returned coins are used for assay, equipment testing, design evaluation and other internal purposes - they are not re-sent to other buyers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/31/2022 at 7:33 AM, Chris Mikesh said:

The coins were received from the us mint yesterday, not a dealer.

Wow, I guess that answers the question of if it could have theoretically come from the mint that way.  :grin:

I have had nothing but virtually perfect coins directly from the mint for a while, so I agree send it back.  My money would be on you getting a much better coin in return.  I am still curious how bad these dings were direct from the mint, so maybe you could post some pics anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Guys,

Thank you for the feedback.  EagleRJO requested pictures.  I'll start with the half Dollar:

As all of you have ascertained, $33 for a Clad Half Dollar is too much, but I can gripe about the $$ another time.  But below is the 'Ding'.  I have looked at it under different lights and magnification.  Yup. It is a dent.


Next is the Silver Dollar:

The Ribbon, 3rd (or4th) rib up from the bottom, has a small contact point.  Again, 3 different lights and up to 10X magnifying showed a pin-point nick. image.thumb.jpeg.ba3f40b9ea554845e8bd75eaf3a843f9.jpeg


But the Reverse surprised me more when I started to examine it in more detail. It showed a 'ding' of a sort and a black abrasion above it. This is a poor picture, but it is a very shiny raised imperfection under some light angles.


This got me looking further.  Sadly, I found much more.


At first, I thought it was inside the plastic coin holder.  Yup, it's on the coin.  Milk spots?

For further study, I looked at the proof counterparts to these coins (I realize these would be different dies) and did not see any issues.  (I could stare at those proofs all day and not get tired - they are gorgeous!) But I think the flaws on the Uncirculated coins are a problem unless you suggest something else that would be a mint error of some sort.  All opinions are appreciated. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/31/2022 at 7:49 PM, Chris Mikesh said:

As all of you have ascertained, $33 for a Clad Half Dollar is too much,

How have you determined that $33 is “too much”? That price was not plucked out of thin air, you know. It is the result of law, fairly RECENT law, but still law. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
1 1