Bailey Banks and Biddle’s Purple Hearts History


  • Bailey Banks and Biddle is a known firm formed in 1832 recognized as an American Jewelry leader in the jewelry fashion. Retaining the integrity of fine jewelry brought great interest to the jewelry business focusing attention to detail as a guiding tool in each masterpiece created. Known for its amazing foundation, Bailey Banks and Biddle held the American’s public eye and worn the jewelry from presidents to astronauts.


Bailey Banks and Biddle founded on September 10, 1832, has been known as the oldest nationwide jeweler in America. The jewelry fashion business was founded by Joseph Trowbridge and then built partnership with Andrew B. Kitchen, establishing the Bailey & Kitchen Jewelry firm in Philadelphia.

The partnership of Trowbridge and Kitchen was dissolved with mutual agreement in November year 1846. The business was then continued when Bailey’s brother developed a new partnership with Jeremiah Robbins and James Gallagher, thus the name of Bailey & Company emerged.

With an unwavering commitment to excellence, Joseph T. Bailey set the bar for an uncompromising course in craftsmanship that emerged the name of Bailey Banks and Biddle similar to the national symbols such as the presidential gifts, honorary medals, and even heirloom jewelry.

Since the launching of Bailey Banks and Biddle in 1878, the jewelry business has operated under its current name and its success has increased near the completion of the second century.

Most of America’s most remarkable history is engraved swords and poured into medals which are then presented to America’s greatest military personnel and heroes. The pieces of jewelry were cast in the precious metals of pieces located in the estates’ oldest families in America. These precious metals are cut into every angle of diamonds that emblem of stored personal moments.

History of the Purple Heart

One of the most trademark treasures of Bailey Banks and Biddle is the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart is America’s most sacred first medal.

In 1872, the newly formed country was engaged in a war for independence from England. General Washington was in the field shoulder to shoulder with his troops in his 50s. The troops had no worn medals. The nation has been founded on the proposition that all men are created equals. In the 1700s, medals were considered elitists, something that a General would attach on his gaudy uniform. As the vicious Revolutionary War carried on, however, Washington was compelled to recognize the sacrifices he saw from the revolutionaries. In August of 1782, Washington then created Purple Heart in this burning spirit.

August of the same year, in Newburgh, New York, Washington crafted the first Purple Heart. Traveling with his troops, Washington had a seamstress sew from a purple cloth’s piece – a small heart. The piece of cloth is believed to have originated from the coat of a fallen soldier.   The word “Merit” was embroidered in a heart shaped silver seam.

Today, one of the Purple Heart is found in a small museum in Newburgh, New York, near where it was awarded. The other piece is in Washington, DC, at the heart of the Cincinnati Headquarters. The Cincinnati order is America’s oldest Military Order which was established by officers who served under Washington. Bailey and Banks & Biddle designed its very own insignia which is still seen until today. The third Purple Heart has been missing and was lost to history.

Beyond the 21st Century

The son of Joseph T. Bailey II, Charles Weaver Bailey, was the last kin to head the firm. After his father’s death, he became his father’s successor in the presidency in the year 1918. Charles, born in 1861, served as a Major in World War I and died in 1922.

On October 2, 1961, Bailey Banks & Biddle collaborated in partnership with the Zale Corporation. At the time,  three respective locations such as Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, and the Cherry Hill Mall, which is in its original location as of the present.

With the sacred tradition established by the Bailey family, the new Zale Corp management continued. Designer George Meel, in the 1960’s crafted the Silver and Bronze Starts and prepared solid gold calling cards to the seven patriotic  Mercury Astronauts.  In that same year, the jewelry firm sold the Astronauts the Original Omega Speedmaster, the highly selected official timepiece for every known successful NASA mission. Few of the Mercury Astronauts came to Houston, Texas, looking for a watch they prefer. They bought a Longines Conquest, a Bulova Accutron and the Original Omega Speedmaster. After thoroughly testing all three watched, they gladly placed an order with Omega for famous twelve Speedmasters.

Bailey Banks & Biddle continues with the traditions started by Joseph T. Bailey in 1832 until today. The tradition of quality, style, and unwavering service were notably preserved.

Bailey Banks & Biddle can claim to be America’s only oldest jeweler and leading luxury jeweler, with emerging branches from coast to coast, keeping traditions and history to be fascinating as the stories are moving and limelight of jewelry firms.


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