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Knight?s Templar medals

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Knight?s Templar Membership Medal

This medal is probably one of the most commonly encountered U.S. Masonic/fraternal medals, and is also probably the most often incorrectly identified.

The Masonic Knight?s Templar were formed in 1816, and still survive today, although their numbers are reportedly dropping. They base their history on a non-existent connection with the KT?s of the Crusades. To become a KT the man must be a member in good standing in a regular Masonic Lodge, and hold the 7th degree in the York Rite of Masonry, which is called the Royal Arch Degree.

The KT?s meet in lodges called Commanderies, and they wear military-style uniforms, which is one reason for the misunderstanding as to their purpose and affiliation. Many Commanderies after the Civil War (1861-1865) wore a uniform very similar to that of the Union Army, complete with shoulder epaulets for officers. The uniform is now more varied, but old photos of KT members still seem to reinforce the myth it is a military organization or has a military connection.

Their membership medal is a white Maltese cross worn on a black ribbon, based upon the uniform of the real Knight?s Templar. The center medallion usually has the eagle design from the U.S. seal, with ?E. Pluribus Unum" around, but there are some variations. These medals have been around since at least the 1870?s, and I have personally cataloged over 24 varieties. The older medals have more character in their manufacturing than the modern pieces; some modern ones have bars with the names of the Commandery; and occasionally you?ll see a half black, half white ribbon; but they are still just membership medals.

The most common mistake with identification of these medals is an imaginary connection with the Civil War, and Civil War veterans. The medal is often seen on dealer/auction listings as a ?funeral? medal. One author of a book on Civil War insignia even claimed this, giving the myth an undeserved level of credibility. Since it has a black ribbon, it must be a funeral medal?Right??? Since it has a military looking eagle, and ?E Pluribus Unum? ?it must be military?.Right??? As we have all hopefully learned by now, don?t base an opinion of a medal?s purpose on its design. Interestingly enough, as the Civil War vet?s died off, and the medal still survived, the ever creative dealers made them Spanish War?then WWI?and WWII, and, yes, even Korean War, ?funeral? medals. NOT!!!!!

Here is an example of a fairly modern medal. The reverse is usually plain, some earlier ones have maker?s stamps.

Firemedals

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Knight?s Templar photograph

This photo comes from a card, probably c. 1900. I believe the men were officers in the National KT organization, this being taken while they were attending an annual encampment. They are wearing their officer jewel in the middle of their uniforms; the medal to the far right being a commemorative of that particular encampment. The membership medal can easily be identified in their ?group?.

This type of photo illustrates how a KT in uniform could be misidentified as a military man.

Firemedals

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Thanks for the explanation of the membership medals. Until now I've vexed as to how they related to Masons and the military.

Over the years I've picked up enough bits and bobs to fully outfit someone as a KT. I still have a sword belt, sash and I think a Chapeau somewhere.

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Very informative from both sides of the water. Reference the last entry - where you mentioned the

regalia of the Knights of Malta - you said the use of the 'frog'. What is that

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Very informative from both sides of the water. Reference the last entry - where you mentioned the

regalia of the Knights of Malta - you said the use of the 'frog'. What is that

Greetings 156Jim

Welcome to the Forum! Hope you enjoy it here and, as I know you from another arena, am certain we will benefit from your knowledge of Anglo-American Masonry.

As far as the frog goes, I think its the device that attaches the sword scabbard to the belt. If I am wrong I am sure someone will correct me.

Fraternal regards

WM5806

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Just got this one in because I thought it unusual, nicely done piece.

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Coastie,

"Unusual" and "nicely done" are understatements. Unique is the word. I've been collecting these for about 20 years and have about three dozen varieties, but I've never seen the ribbon suspension on yours before.

That's one of the attractions of these pieces to me. They are still relatively inexpensive, and finding the varieties is the challenge. While most of the Commanderies used the "stock" medals as illustrated above, a few apparently worked with local jewelers to make their own variations. I've tried without success to get information from the KT's about the history of the medal, the makers, etc.. It seems anything of a closely similar design was accepted.

Thanks for posting this. Another one I need to find :angry:

Firemedals :beer:

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Thought you would like it. :love: The other unique thing about this one is that it's bigger, the cross is 2 1/2",

across and the ribbon is 1 3/4" wide.

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Interesting thread. Here is mine, I picked it up last year in an antique store in Schuylerville New York. I have been told it is Masonic Knights Commandery medal known as the Malta Jewel.

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American Freemasons "Knights of Malta" Cross

To be exact these are the jewel of a member knight of the "Order of Malta". This particular Order is one of the three bestowed on members of the Commandery of Knights Templar which is one of the four bodies that compose the York Rite of Freemasonry. This jewel is quite typical of those given to the newly inducted. The eagle bearing an olive branch and arrows in its claws surmounted by the "E. Pluribus Unum" motto is present due to the tradition of including the seal/symbol of the country in which the member was inducted in the center of the cross. In the modern day it is more common to such American crosses with a shield in the center that has a blue charge with red & white stripes on the field.

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Hi, I acquired this one and it is different than the others depicted here. Any ideas about this one?

Ron

[attachmentid=63031]

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Ron,

A nice variation made by the Joseph Mayer & Brothers Co., of Seattle. It should be stamped as such on the reverse. Mayer was a jeweler and medal maker, producing some campaign medals for the US Government. They have an interesting history, too long to go into here, but they eventually had money problems (and probably management problems) and production wound down during the 1960's-70's.

I don't know when this medal was produced as few production records of Mayer's work survived. The variation in the design with the unusual sunburst center is unique as far as I know. I've been collecting these for years and never seen any other like it. I appreciate seeing your example, as I've been curious if these were made with the back ribbon drape, or if that was done later by a particular group of the KT's. My example has a gold colored open-catch pin back. Is that the same as yours?

While the KT medal generally has the familiar design as shown elsewhere in this thread, there were, and still are, many variations. I believe, but have no written proof, that the basic design for the medal is given somewhere, but local Commanderies were allowed to have them manufactured without going through the headquarters. Apparently anything close to the general design was acceptable. Thus you find all of the real early identified examples being the product of the Henderson Ames Co. in Michigan, and later makers ranging from Mass. to NY, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Seattle.

Are there any other members with variations of this medal????

FireMedals

P.S. Joseph Mayer is not to be confused with N.S. Meyer of New York, another medal maker....but not known to have made any KT medals.

Edited by FireMedals

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FireMedals,

Right you are - Jos Mayer & Bros stamped on reverse. Also, it has a gold colored open-catch pin back. The back ribbon drape is attached and stitched on both sides, but it appears to be a one piece ribbon.

Thanks again, Ron

Edited by MSgt_mode

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Something a little different... K.T., Malta, Constantine etc.

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Ralph,

Great collection. One thing I like about some of the basic Masonic medals are their simplicity of design. And the Iron Cross is a real hoot. I'd like to know who dreamed up the idea of making a copy of that. :blush:

Is the IC medal the one that was offered on-line some time back? I recall seeing one but never followed it. I'll have to find one just for the unique nature. Have you been able to place it as to the location of that particular Commandery or the date of issue?

Thanks for posting them. :beer:

FireMedals

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"Have you been able to place it as to the location of that particular Commandery or the date of issue?"

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Ralph,

Way cool medals! Since the SVA crimps my collecting US military medals (certain ones), I may just have to see about these Masonic and KT medals. :rolleyes:

Ron

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I'm with you, Ron.

One day, I might have to post more of my Masonic (and GAR) collection. Fun stuff.

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Ralph,

That would be great. The only one I have at present is posted above, but I'm working on acquiring more.

Ron

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I was doing some research on a Knight Templar medal, and found your site very helpful. So I'll share what I've got. This membership medal was probably owned by Maecenas E Benton (1847-1924), who was a US Congressman from Missouri, and the father of the famous painter Thomas Hart Benton. The shield has 9 stars, and the back is stamped "Green-KC". One of the rays of the cross is missing enamel, but the location bars are a nice touch.

Steve Sitton

Historic Site Admin.

Thomas Hart Benton Home State Historic Site

Edited by Nick

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Steve,

Thanks for posting to this too-long inactive thread.

It's rare that a KT medal can be identified to an individual or specific time. so having one to a known recipient and from a specific time frams is great. Any chance of photo's being posted. My example of a GREEN medal only has the name stamped...no KC. It also doesn't have stars. I'd like to see your example for comparison.

Ther was also a maker named STEINER in Kansas City, but they are older, and made better quality pieces than later makers. One major problem is also IDing the makers. Most didn't mark them and some suppliers appear to have bought from wholesalers and sold them as their own. I'll try to get a couple of photos of my GREEN piece posted.

FireMedals

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You're welcome. Unfortunately, my reply box doesn't have any photo attachment icons. The medal photo that is now up had to be emailed to Forum Admin Nick, then he uploaded it for me.

In the same jewelry box as the KT medal are 2 sets of metal Christian crosses, with red enamel & gold border. One set is 1 3/4 inches tall, with 1 1/8 inch long arms (for the sleeve, I believe), the other set is 1" x 5/8" (lapel).

We also have Maecenas' Masonic sword, scabbard, & belt.

All might make a nice temporary exhibit here at the Benton Home, someday.

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I've seen these medals with colored shields. Red, white and blue. Does anyone know anything about those?

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