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Masonic Medal

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This medal (auspiciously dated 1830) ended up in my possession about ten years ago as part of a job lot. I always intended to find out more about it, but that intention must have dropped off the edge of a cliff somewhere. If anyone knows anything concerning it that is likely to be of interest, please chirp in.






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British Historical Medals lists it as BHM 1463. Rare in both silver and copper gilt. The only notation is "No specific reasons for the issues of this piece have been found." I'll ask my friend with a copy of Marvin's book on Masonic medals if there are any more details there.

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Here's my friend's reply, in part:

...thank you for your query - it's a VERY common medal and the 1830 date is somewhat deceptive.


In its usual form, it is encased between two pieces of clear, convex plastic (or earlier ones may have had glass) and the whole is held together by a silver-gilt or gold (hallmarked) rim.  The medal itself is usually (probably 99% of them) gold-plated base metal, although some of them are silver-gilt - hallmarks for silver (lion passant) will be evident either side of the square and compass on the reverse, although some claim hallmarks on the edge, but I have never seen these.


The medal, or 'jewel' when worn, is called the "Charity Jewel" (also sometimes colloquially known as the watchcase, Sussex or combined charities jewel) and was awarded for being a subscribing Festival Steward to two or more of the main Masonic charities (the Royal Masonic Institute for Girls, the Royal Masonic Institute for Boys or the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution).  Thus, the ribbon from which it is suspended is coloured in their appropriate colours - white for the RMIG, blue for the RMIB and red for the RMBI, or any combination thereof, depending on which charities the donor has supported.  In 1985 the former two charities were merged into one, being the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, so I assume that this jewel is no longer issued, but they were issued in their tens, or even hundreds, of thousands over the years.  On eBay, they seldom achieve more than USD 5-10.


The 1830 date is, as I said, misleading in that that was the year in which the award was instituted, although I am not sure if the same (above) qualifications were required initially.  Certainly the precursors of the first two charities existed before 1830, being founded in 1788, 1798 and 1842, respectively.  The same date was put on all the jewels, at least up to the late part of the 20th Century.


The obverse of the jewel is described as "A female figure of Charity, seated, her arms round a girl standing on her right with a bonnet hanging on her left arm and a boy who kneels at her left with a book under his left arm. Above, a triangle enclosing a heavily irradiated eye; below, in exergue: MDCCCXXX." It is 36 mm in diameter.  It may be that the early ones were not enclosed by clear covers and were suspended 'bare' from a ribbon, utilising some sort of attachment device on the uppermost edge - I have not knowingly seen one from around the 1830 period, so cannot say.


It would seem that the originals, if one can say that in this case, are probably rare, but that it has been in use for a long time and therefore common in the restrikes (if you will). Hope this helps. :ninja:

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Absolutely brilliant! Couldn't ask for more info as to its origins and purpose. Many thanks indeed for taking the trouble ! :lol::cry:


I'm just slightly puzzled though, as this one certainly doesn't strike me as being gilt over a base metal, but yet it does not have any hallmarking either on the edge or per the location noted in your friends comments. No doubt i'll come across a reason for that particular anomaly at some point. Probably my perceptions at fault. I'll go dig it out again and have a closer look now





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  • 3 years later...

Came across this old post of yours Ian. Did you miss my post LINK


The difference between our medals is the number of rays eminating from the eye plus the lenght of the woman's neck and her hair style etc. Mine, though it is not hall-marked, is 100% gilded silver (could be hall-marked on the edge, cannot see as it is encased in a gold holder) and is at least earlier than 1912.


These are the hallmarks on the gold holder; R for 1912, Leopards Head for London, 15 .625 purity of gold, H&WS for makers H & W Spilling.



This is why I found your post EBAY ITEM as I did a forum search for my old post found yours. The encased medal on ebay has a lesser number of rays than my medal.

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  • 7 years later...

XVII.jpgThis thread and Constanius' link covered the topic. Nevertheless, I had occasion to open up a 1936 version of this medal and examine the inner ring. The inner ring had a single lion hallmark on the outside and XVII etched in large letters on the inside.


P1010084 red.jpg



P1010081 red.jpg


Inner ring red.jpg

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On English silver objects, there will usually be the full set of hallmarks (quality mark e.g. lion passant for 925/1000, assay office e.g. leopard head for London, date letter, and maker/sponsor) on a main part, and each part that could in theory be separated will have just the quality mark.


So on cigar boxes, usually the base will have a full set of marks and the top lid will have just the lion passant, and on an Albert chain, the full marks will be on the crossbar, and each of the links on the chain (!) will have a lion passant.

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