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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 42, October 18, 2009, Article 9

QUERY: INFORMATION ON TEMPERANCE SOCIETY MEDALS AND TOKENS SOUGHT

Bob Rhue forwarded the following query about an interesting sideline in token and medal collecting: temperance society medals and tokens. -Editor

Somewhat related to the recent article posted on the subject of "chips' carried by many members of Alcoholics Anonymous, there are a number of medals dating back to the 1830's that were issued by various "Temperance Societies". Maybe someone can add more comprehensive information than I present here, since I have but a few different pieces, and can give only a few scattered facts here that I happen know about them.

Temperance Token Temperance Token

One of the earliest pieces that I know of is a bit larger than dime-size (21 mm), and was struck in silver in the mid 1830's. It pictures a bust of Washington on the obverse, surrounded by a fanciful wreath and with an outer legend "Washington Temperance Benevolent Society". These scarce pieces have sold in recent times for well over a thousand dollars, indicating a serious interest in this series by at least a few collectors. The reverse of this piece proclaims "WE SERVE THE TYRANT ALCOHOL NO LONGER" .

Presidential Temperance Medal Presidential Temperance Medal

Another piece of particular interest is a bronze, 44 mm one dated "Oct'r 1834", and includes the die-struck signatures, in script, of "James Madison", Andrew Jackson", and "John Quincy Adams". These three notables are allegedly endorsing this "IMPORTANT CERTIFICATE" which reads quite interestingly:

Being satisfied from observation and experience, as well as from medical testimony, that ardent spirit, as a drink is not only needless, but hurtful, and that the entire disuse of it would tend to promote the virtue and the happiness of the community, that should the citizens of the United States, and especially all young men discountenance entirely the use of it, they would not only promote their own personal benefit, but the good of our country and the world" (signed) James Madison Andrew Jackson John Quincy Adams Oct'r 1834"

The obverse dramatically depicts a 'sober' man holding a cornucopia and leaning on a shield inscribed "TEMPERANCE". By contrast, next to him is the seated figure of a dejected man with his feet and hands bound in chains, and sitting on a rock inscribed "INTEMPERANCE". The obverse inscription reads 'STRONG DRINK IS BITTER TO THEM THAT DRINK IT" And at the bottom "TEMPERANCE SOCIETY"

Are there any readers who might be able to point us to any previously written literature on the series of temperance medals? To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: MORE ON ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS TOKENS (www.coinbooks.org/esylum_v12n41a15.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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