Readers Ask column from Feb. 20, 2017, weekly issue of
Please help me identify this Franklin Delano Roosevelt Inaugural
medallion. I cannot find an example of it on the internet. I
purchased it in the 1990s from the Washington, D.C., Treasury
Building museum as a U.S. Mint product. The full silhouette portrait
is different from all the images I have found on the internet. The
reverse has an eagle on a shield with John R. Sinnock’s initials at
the bottom. I would appreciate any historical information on the medal.
Kenneth Rajspis / Via email
You are correct that this is a U.S. Mint-produced medal designed and engraved
by Chief U.S. Mint Engraver John R. Sinnock.
It was struck at the Philadelphia Mint and notes the inauguration of
President Roosevelt to his first term, but is referred to as a
It is not to be confused with an official presidential inaugural
medal, which is traditionally commissioned to a private mint by an
incoming president’s inaugural committee and generally also portrays
the new president on the medal’s obverse. The medals commissioned by
these successive inaugural committees form a collectible series as well.
For specific information on your Presidential medal, I enlisted the
expertise of H. Joseph Levine, from Presidential Coin & Antique
Company in Clifton, Va., who specializes in both official presidential
inaugural medals and Presidential medals.
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Your medal bears what are called the “First Obverse and First
Reverse” designs. The 76-millimeter bronze medal’s obverse features a
portrait right of FDR executed by Sinnock, with the inscription
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES around. In very
small letters beneath the bust, J.R. SINNOCK F. AD. VIVUM. MCMXXXIV.
The reverse exhibits an eagle without rays perched on a U.S. shield
superimposed over fasces and inscribed INAUGURATED/ MARCH 4, 1933.
Sinnock’s initials, J.R.S., appear in tiny letters at the bottom. The
illustrated variety of medal was struck for only a short period of
time before it was replaced with a modified version.
Over the course of Roosevelt’s four terms, the Mint struck
Presidential medals of various designs. The version now offered by the
Mint is the memoriam version, created after his death in office in 1945.