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Linasl

Interesting US Medal - Military, Civil, or Fantasy?

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Greetings All.

I just acquired and interesting US medal for which I have no idea about. I have attached a low-resolution photo to this post, but I have five high-resolution photos in a PhotoBucket album (with and without flash) at this link:

http://s752.photobuc...asl/US%20Medal/

I would appreciate any and all information any of you have. Several questions:

1. is this military, civil, or a fantasy piece?

2. who issued / commissioned this medal?

3. what was this medal issued for / who was eligible to receive it?

4. how old is it (estimate is fine)?

Any other information you can share.

Thank you in advance. Linas

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Greetings All.

I just acquired and interesting US medal for which I have no idea about. I have attached a low-resolution photo to this post, but I have five high-resolution photos in a PhotoBucket album (with and without flash) at this link:

http://s752.photobuc...asl/US%20Medal/

I would appreciate any and all information any of you have. Several questions:

1. is this military, civil, or a fantasy piece?

2. who issued / commissioned this medal?

3. what was this medal issued for / who was eligible to receive it?

4. how old is it (estimate is fine)?

Any other information you can share.

Thank you in advance. Linas

Hello, I am not an expert but that cross is from a Fraternal Order maybe masonic. It is a sort of memorial (morning) cross. Not much but I hope this helps. Cheers Captain Albert

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Hello, I am not an expert but that cross is from a Fraternal Order maybe masonic. It is a sort of memorial (morning) cross. Not much but I hope this helps. Cheers Captain Albert

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Hi Linas,

Maybe others can add a little more but this looks llike a Knights Templar membership medal

1. is this military, civil, or a fantasy piece? - Civil

2. who issued / commissioned this medal? - Knights Templar

3. what was this medal issued for / who was eligible to receive it? - Knights Templar members

4. how old is it (estimate is fine)? - ?

Regards Eddie

Edited by Taz

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Thank you Captain Albert - it is a good start. Would like more info, of course.

Linas

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Hi Linas,

Maybe others can add a little more but this looks llike a Knights Templar membership medal

1. is this military, civil, or a fantasy piece? - Civil

2. who issued / commissioned this medal? - Knights Templar

3. what was this medal issued for / who was eligible to receive it? - Knights Templar members

4. how old is it (estimate is fine)? - ?

Regards Eddie

Thanks Eddie. Starting to zero it down, I hope.

Linas

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Thank you Captain Albert - it is a good start. Would like more info, of course.

Linas

It's a Masonic Knights Templar medal.

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It's a Masonic Knights Templar medal.

Thanks Mike. Do you have any more info?

Linas

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There is a very good article on this "medal" in the latest JOMSA. I assume you have seen this?

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The text of the draft for the OMSA Journal article (with permission of the author):

Everybody “knows” about the Grand Army of the Republic funeral badge. That’s the white enameled cross with the gold eagle in the center and the plain black ribbon, isn’t it? Well, there is no Grand Army of the Republic funeral badge and what everybody “knows” is incorrect.

The “GAR funeral badge” is probably the most commonly misidentified American medal and that identification stems from incomplete research. In 1990, Rev. Brad Long privately published a monograph, “Collecting Grand Army of the Republic Memorabilia”, in an effort to fill a gap in the literature of Civil War collecting. Long illustrated a variety of GAR badges and insignia, including what he described as the “Death Medal”. He goes on to say “The medal is perhaps mistaken for a Masonic Order or VFW device. The medal was usually given to the widow or surviving family upon the death of a GAR member.” He continues by noting “This medal was also used extensively by non-GAR fraternal organizations.” Unfortunately, this is where incomplete research negates the value of the monograph.

Long’s second edition, published in 1992, made an attempt to answer the critics of his work, but he simply then referred to the badge as “unofficial”. He did note that the “origin of the badge can be traced to other fraternal organizations, to include, but not limited to, the Masonic orders.” The obfuscation of the real origin of the badge not only continued, but was used by another author in a book for collectors. Turner E. Kirkland published “Civil War Veterans’ Organizations, Reunions and Badges” in 1991. In it, he refers to the medals being “given to a soldier’s family upon his demise...Some feel areas with heavy Masonic population influenced this medal.” Unfortunately, Lee Bishop and J. Robert Elliott provided another source for the mis-identification in their “American Society Medals”, where it is listed as the “GAR Death Badge”.

So, what is the “GAR funeral badge” really? It is the Malta Jewel of the Knights Templar, a Masonic organization. In the Knights Templar hierarchy, the Malta Jewel represents the second level order (the first-level order is the Order of the Temple and the third-level, or highest, order is the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross). The Malta Jewel has been in existence at least since the 1880s and has been manufactured in a variety of styles. Some have plain gold centers, others have the centers enameled in various colors, some have enameled eagles in the center, some will have top bars, etc.

Why the confusion over this simple badge? The 1880s saw a tremendous expansion of fraternal organizations and it was common that a man would join several societies. He might join the GAR based on his military service, the Knights Templar based on his church connections and another society offering mutual insurance benefits. Most of these organizations had medals and badges for their members to wear. When a man had a formal portrait taken, it was not uncommon to see him wearing all of his society regalia. It is common to see men of the period wearing both GAR and Masonic regalia, which can lead to false assumptions about the origins and use of many badges. These portraits, however, did not lead modern authors to an obvious question – “Why are so many living individuals photographed wearing a “GAR funeral badge”?

The answer is that they were not. They were wearing the Malta Jewel, symbolic of their position in the Knights Templar.

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Wow Jeff - your write-up is FANTASTIC! I really appreciate your very detailed answer.

Take care. Linas

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There is a very good article on this "medal" in the latest JOMSA. I assume you have seen this?

Hello Ed. No, I don't get the JOMSA. I live in France and postage costs are quite high.

Thanks. Linas

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