Medal Conference – Sallay – College Medals

Medal Conference – Sallay – College Medals

October 9, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


you I have I have met late 70s when he was
just a kid starting out studying the school medals the Boston School medals
so we’ve known each other forever he’s recently fairly recently retired and yes
his focus now is beekeeping and and still on medals so he is he is going to
talk about the mysterious secret societies in in college medals thank you
thank you very much Anne it’s it’s a real pleasure to be here today yeah
thank you it’s a real pleasure to be here today I thank all of you for for
joining us and want to thank Anne especially for everything that she’s
done to organize this it’s it’s been a long time in the making and hopefully
you all have a good time I’m gonna talk as Anne said about the early American
College secret society medals and I had given this presentation at the ANA
Convention and John Adams liked it so much they twisted my arm to give it
again hopefully this time I’ll remember some of the facts a little bit better
but as we did then I actually encourage you certainly during my presentation to
just ask questions along the way if you if you want to know something or if I’ve
got something wrong just raise your hands and we’ll make it kind of more
interactive this is such an awe inspiring place that you know many of us would
feel too humble to just ask a question but I encourage you to do that and then
I’ll try to go through it fast enough so that we can leave time for some
questions at the end one of the one of the really exciting
things about collecting probably anything but certainly medals in the
Internet age is the ability to go online find something that’s very obscure that
maybe only you know something about or maybe you don’t even know anything about
it but it appeals to you and to be able to buy it and add it to your collection
research it and understand you know something that’s very obscure and and
understand its background its history the stories of the people associated
with it and actually its true value you know there are a lot of a lot of
bargains out there for people who know what they’re looking for so imagine if
imagine the joy of being able to go online and not only find pieces that are
obscure from obscure organizations but from organizations that were
intentionally obscure that were secret and often a little bit mischievous you
know I want to tell you today about these medals from early America from
about the the beginning the early part of the 18th century up until the say
second quarter of the 19th century when Greek letter fraternities superseded
most of the secret societies in in America and and and tell you about you
know some of the stories hopefully not so much the you know the history of the
Society but some of the funny stories that go along with some of these clubs
most of them are no longer in existence Phi Beta Kappa Phi Beta Kappa which
started as one of these secret societies is Many of them are defunct
some have been at various colleges resurrected in the 60s 70s 80s as people
have come to understand the early history of these you know the
clubs at their colleges and some of them I still you know even after having spent
hours hours and hours on the internet trying to figure out what they were
still don’t know what they are so there there are some of those still so that’s
so what I want to do I’ve sort of divided it up into three areas or
half-a-dozen areas I’m gonna talk about just in general learning American
secret societies and colleges we’ll talk about some of the very early colonial
period secret college secret societies tell you a little bit about Phi Beta
Kappa that was established in 1776 and then some of the other college societies
that had medals that I know of how that got superseded by the Greek letter fraternities in the 1820s 1830s and then a little bit about collecting these pieces
and if being here today is not exciting enough
I just bought three of them from Tony Terranova so I’m very excited about
that you may you may already know that that
there were clubs and and secret societies in early America some of them
we know very little if anything about the Charleston Social Club I think we
only know from the medal the Betts medal which i think is Betts what is it 508 or
something like that but you you may also know you also know if if
you’ve read Franklin’s autobiography that he had formed a secret society he
is as he said in in 1727 I had formed a club of mutual improvement which we
called the Junto every member in his turn would produce one or more queries
on any point of morals politics or natural philosophy to be discussed by
the company and once in three months produce and read an essay we had from
the beginning made it a rule to keep our institution a secret which was pretty
well observed the intention was to avoid applications from improper persons for
admittance some of whom perhaps we might find it difficult to refuse so that’s a
fairly generous and politically correct way of saying you know you had a secret
society and they they didn’t want people to know about it and they didn’t want
people to know what they were doing and what they discussed I’m sure they did
discuss morals and politics and natural philosophy but they probably discussed a
lot of other stuff as well and then I’m sure you know about the the Freemasons
which are said to have originated in medieval times among the stonemasons who
were building the cathedrals and so on but became very popular in England and
then very soon after that in the American colonies in the early 18th
century This is a this is a medal from an American Masonic medal from the early
19th century and you can see it’s a lot more folky and and crude than some of the
British medals and even some of the American medals that you may have seen I
think Baldwin St. James just auctioned a big collection of British medals in June
and some of those are done by the finest silversmiths in London whereas this is
you know a little bit more American the masons were a secret society and it was
a little bit controversial but a lot of the you know all of the famous people
that you know George Washington Benjamin Franklin John Paul Jones they all belonged
to the the Masonic fraternity and it still is on today it’s not as secret as
it used to be although there’s still some some secret elements of it The
point is that as we talk about College medals the college secret like unlike
many other things college in the United States today which grew out of the
European tradition of colleges whether that’s from you know Oxford or Cambridge
or determent universities and so on the American college secret societies
really grew out of the Masonic tradition it grew out of the European tradition
but you don’t have these same secret societies in Britain or Germany at least
not that I know of maybe they were better at keeping their secrets but you
know the the secret societies that are at Oxford and Cambridge for example
weren’t formed until the 1820s 1830s where we had our College secret
societies about 100 years before that so at the time of the Revolution there were
almost 20 early American colleges Harvard was the oldest that was started
in 1636 William and Mary was not until 1693 and then there were a bunch of them
that were formed in the 18th century and many of them had secret societies as I
said they were patterned after the Freemasons they served both social and
academic purposes and in many cases there were two or sometimes three of
these societies that were formed and they competed against each other they
debated each other they pulled pranks on each other and in many cases the reason
that there was a second or third was because they were secret and exclusive
somebody who was not admitted to that original one at a lot of these colleges
then went on to form the other one only a very few of them set up branches
that you know having like a national fraternity the way that we think about
it today whether it’s Sigma Chi or Theta Delta Chi or whatever is something that
really happened much more in the in the 1830s eighteen to 1850s they all almost
all had membership medals little silver medals that we’ll talk about today some
gold a few of them also had award medals for succeeding in a debate or for giving
an essay or you know for whatever and I’ll show you a few of those as well so
let’s talk about the these college secret societies the earliest ones were
at Harvard you know naturally since that was the earliest college the first one
was the Mock Club then there was the Spy Club the one that actually still exists
a descendant of which exists today is was the Harvard Speaking Club which was
founded in 1770 which soon after that was called the Institute of 1770 and
then eventually merged into the Hasty Pudding Club which I’ll talk about in a
moment and that still exists today as Hasty Pudding Theatricals and you may be
familiar with their annual big production in Harvard Square Theatre
production and then they also give awards to celebrities who come to Boston
and get you know roasted so that one still exists today I’m not aware of an
early medal from that instant from Institute of 1770 although those of you
who know Boston medals will know that you know in the mid nineteenth century
there’s a struck medal from the Institute Phi Beta Kappa and Porcellian
I’m going to skip over from a moment to talk about Hasty Pudding which was
founded in 1795 and it was originally a bunch of students who just didn’t like
the food at the in the dorm and and decided they would make up some hasty
pudding which is today you would call Indian pudding you could go to Durgan
Park downtown and get it for dessert there it’s cornmeal
molasses and milk all boiled up for a long and baked for a long period of time and
they thought it was so much fun having this Hasty Pudding that they started a
club and there’s even an original silver medal that I’ve seen a photo of an old
photo of in the Harvard archives and as I said that still exists today Phi Beta
Kappa was founded in 1781 I’ll talk more about that in a minute the Porcellian
Club though which this is an early medal of from the Massachusetts Historical
Society collection was was similar to Hasty Pudding started by a group of
students who didn’t like the didn’t like the food in the dorms and one of them
bought a pig and brought it up to his room and at that time they had window
boxes you know that were basically a box where they stored their stuff and they
put the pig in the box and this pig you know this little pig was squealing and
the Proctor comes up and you know like knocks on the door they put the pig back
in the window box shut it up he says what’s going on here and and and you
know nothing we’re just studying so the Proctor goes away and and they
thought that was great fun so after a while they squeeze the pig’s ear and to
make it squeal again proctor runs up what’s going on in here and and they
said nothing and after a while they kind of like you know it had enough fun and
and somebody said you know they’re gonna send somebody in here to like search the
place we better do something with this pig so they cooked the pig and ate it
and they thought that was great kind of like the Hasty Pudding Club and he said
let’s form a club and and there had been a club I think it was called the
Argonauts but they decided to call it the Porcellian Club of course pork from the
Latin for pig and it’s a you know it turned into what’s now a very elite
final club at Harvard and there’s a lot of controversy about the final clubs at
Harvard that you know I won’t go into today but the members of this I mean it
goes all the way back everybody wanted to be
the club and their bunch of really famous people who were in it there’s
some famous people who were disappointed that they weren’t in it like FDR but you
know still exists today and there there are these early hand engraved medals but
there are also struck medals after they merged with the Knights of the Square
Table and I think is the 1830s there are these I think eight-pointed star medals
that you can collect maybe there’s one up in one of the cases upstairs and its
motto which I won’t read the Latin in butcher the Latin but while we live let
us live As in so many other things Yale followed Harvard and so and so they
also had literary societies the Crotonia the Linonian and the Brothers in
Unity and the Crotonia if I remember correctly didn’t last for long but the
Linonian and the Brothers in Unity lasted actually for a long time
from the mid 18th century well into the 19th century and those were the two the
two main competing literary debate societies secret societies at Yale for
for many decades again we’ll skip Phi Beta Kappa I’ll come back to that but
then there’s the Phoenix the Calliopean Society and Skull & Bones you may have
heard of because both Presidents Bush were members of Skull & Bones and and
it’s like the Porcellian Club is still going today is still somewhat
controversial still very elitist in tone and so on so Yale also had had
these clubs the earliest club secret society college secret society that I know
of that actually had medals was at William and Mary and it was the FHC and
it was established in 1750 nobody knows what FHC actually stands for it’s still
secret it’s believed to be Fraternitas Humanitas Cognito
Brotherhood Humanity Knowledge although at the time somebody knows I think sort
of the way you get into a secret society today in college or any secret society
which is you get to know people and they say ah that guy would be a good member
of this society so it was a little bit of you know getting tapped and probably
some people doing a little bit of trying to figure out who’s in it you know one
of the what are the interesting things about these secret societies is some of
them tried to keep their existence secret so you might not even know that
this society existed until somebody tapped you on the shoulder and said yeah
you know you’re a jolly fellow you know let us tell you about this and would you
like to be a member in a lot of cases the existence of the Society was known
but you wouldn’t know anything about it and in other cases that we’ll talk about
most things about the society were known but there were still there and even
society some of these societies today people know most of the things about
them and their existence is not secret the membership is not secret but there’s
still secret aspects you know the the handshake is secret or the motto is
secret and some of these things you know you just don’t know but that’s it it’s
it’s their social organisations so like everything social is kind of you know
some of its open some of its not but this was called the Flat Hat everyone
called it the Flat Hat Club and and there was a and the the corresponding
competitive Society was PDA which nobody knew what that stood for either but
everyone called that one the Please Don’t Ask society and and Jefferson was
a member of this although it late in his life he wrote a letter there’s a there’s
in the arc and I think it’s the archives of William and Mary that he wrote to a
friend saying oh yeah I was a member of the FHC there were only six people in it
and frankly I don’t know good it was you know so he and he said I don’t even know
if it exists anymore and indeed it did not you know I think he wrote that in
1819 and the club had been disbanded in the 1780s the early 1780s during the
Revolutionary War so anyway these are two examples of FHC medals which are the
earliest of these medals that we know of and and almost all of these early
American colleges had membership medals so here’s one from the Cliosophic Society
at Princeton which still exists today there was also the American Whig Society
there and they that those two organizations merged in 1928 and still
exist and and they all out of them had in this period while the Greek
fraternities had Greek mottos almost all of these had Latin mottos so in this
case it was thinking I won’t say the Latin but Be rather than seen and many of
them also have this clasping hand this friendship motif on it and that just
says Cliosophic Society instituted 1765 it was started by Aaron Burr among
others the American Whig Society was founded only a couple years later I
think was 1768 by James Madison among others so that gives you a sense of kind
of who was in these societies some of them also had award medals so in this
case the Clio Clio had this award medal which is
actually quite large it looks kind of small it’s probably like two inches just
the metal itself was two inches and it was fashioned into a key
you may be aware the of the Phi Beta Kappa keys those were not originally
keys those were just medals and you know people were they were
worn and so people felt like oh how can I make this more useful than just
wearing this silver medal and they would go to their local jeweler and have put
on a little ring and then a little steel ferrule that could be used to walk to
wind their watch if they had a watch and so and hence the evolution of these
metals into keys what we call keys at the time these were not and all of these
medals were not called medals they were called either emblems or in some cases
keys most most often emblems and it was an emblem of your membership in the club
as I said some of them had you know awards this one says it’s for you know
kind of eloquence or debate or something you don’t really know but it was it was
an award and and that Latin abbreviated Latin tells when it was given and so on
you might notice on the obverse on the left up at the top there’s a little bit
of an and I don’t know whether it’s actual or fake hieroglyphics it’s sort
of like little squiggly lines that look like hieroglyphics and I just don’t know
whether though that actually means something or whether it’s just
indicative of the still secret nature of that Club so Phi Beta Kappa was
established oh it’s re so what does Cliosophic mean
I think it it refers to Clio the muse of poetry and history and sophic means
knowledge of and so it’s knowledge of history knowledge of poetry that sort of
thing you know actually there’s a there’s a
broader question that goes with that which is a lot of these clubs were Philo
something Philo sophic Philo whatever and and it’s love of you know
were Greek composite names and although these clubs were not affiliated with
each other oftentimes you find clubs with the same
name at multiple different colleges so it’s a good question
Phi Beta Kappa was founded at William and Mary in 1776 and and while that
particular club itself only lasted for four years it was disbanded in in 1781
as Cornwallis’s troops were approaching actually because there was somebody who
was at William and Mary who had attended Yale and then graduated from Harvard and
was there shortly after that they decided that they when he went back to
New England that he would establish chapters of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard
and Yale and so there was a chapter established at Yale in 1780 there was chapter established at Harvard in 1781 by this fellow Elisha Parmalee and it’s because
of those because of that action of establishing the those chapters those
those alphas they called them that Phi Beta Kappa still exists today this is a
very early member Lee medal from Yale it’s from from what I can tell from
about 17 between 1780 and 1785 and when Parmalee went up to back back up
to Yale and back up to Harvard he brought with him not only their charters
but the chart but he also brought an example of the silver medal and the
Charter said just as we just as we here at William and Mary do you will give
each one of your members one of these medals exactly like this this is not
precisely what the William and Mary medal look like the Harvard medal is
actually almost exactly what the original William and Mary medals look
like so this is one from the probably also the 1780s from Harvard
and and while Phi Beta Kappa to William and Mary went out of business in 1781
Yale’s was dormant for 15 or so years and I think was the 17 of the 1870s
1880s Harvard’s has continued has has operated continuously since then and so
is the oldest of the Phi Beta Kappa chapters now in existence today all of
the Phi Beta Kappa medals that you see from all of the chapters are all dated
1776 except for Harvard’s when you see the
1781 date you know that’s a Harvard medal because those they dated from the
founding of their particular chapter going back as you can see the the Phi
Beta Kappa is Greek this Greek abbreviation for love is the learning
love of learning is the guide of life and SP is is an abbreviation for the
Latin Philosophical Society the hand pointing to the three stars refers to
see if I can get this if I get this right the the three aims of the society we’ll come back I’ll come back to that but when when these medals when they
founded the fourth society I think was at Dartmouth in 1787 and then there was
one founded at Bowdoin a few decades after that and Union College a few
decades after that the the subsequent chapters were not really clear on what
the Stars were and how many stars there should be and somebody interpreted it as
well we’re the fourth chapter we’ll put four CH four stars on our medal the next
one said well we’re the fifth chapter we put five stars on our medal and they
kept going until they got to be a lot of stars and somebody said well you know oh
oh you just can’t keep going forever when they got up to seven and then
somebody said well we’ll go back to three so now there are three stars on
all of these medals and the medal has has just as the as the as a society
itself as evolved the medals have evolved from these little about one inch
square silver medals to in the 1790s and especially in the 1800’s early a decade
or so the 1800s they evolved from being silver or a few of them are even brass
to be in gold and to being keys so you see not only the gold but you see that
little it’s a real iron ferrule it’s a watch key that somebody has basically
had a jeweler put on to the bottom of this little square emblem medal so that
he could wear it and use it and and the the engraving in these early metals
varies dramatically some of them have different numbers of stars named not
named school not school some of them are very ornate and it wasn’t really until
the early 20th century that they got standardized to two as a main as a
manufacturer took over and manufactured a medal for all of these different
chapters of Phi Beta Kappa the three main changes in Phi Beta Kappa
you you would you of course know that it’s an honorary Society today it’s not
really a secret society that didn’t change until about the 1830s
there was Harvard the the Harvard administration basically forced the Phi
Beta Kappa chapter at Harvard to give up its secrecy and it was a result of sort
of a big controversy in the 1820s there was a there was an anti Masson
anti-masonic feeling in in the country at that time that grew out of what’s
called the Morgan affair and this fellow Morgan who lived in upstate New York
decided that he was going to publish all of the secrets of the Freemasons and you
know obviously the club the organization was pretty uptight about that so
somebody in the law enforcement drummed up some charges and they arrested him so
they put him in in their jail and then he mysteriously disappeared and everyone
assumed he was murdered and that got a lot of press nationally you know in the
in the early country and it it caused this reaction against the Freemasons
there had always been sort of this anti-masonic feeling among the clergy
the clergy did not the the clergy did not like secret societies in general and
the Freemasons in particular because they viewed them as secular and
anti-christian but but you know once this Morgan affair happened a lot of
other people besides clergy members kind of jumped on the bandwagon it’s a
Harvard in 1831 basically said okay you can’t be secret anymore and that led to
a lot of other of the secret societies but Phi Beta Kappa in particular giving
up their their secrecy the second change was in the 1840s it evolved from being a
real society a club where they had meetings and there were secret elements
to being more of an honorary society very similar to what it is today and
then the third major change didn’t happen until the 1870s when Yale
admitted the first African-Americans in 1874 and the University of Vermont
admitted the first women in 1875 and so those are the three main changes from
what these what Phi Beta Kappa was in the early it’s early existence to what
it what it is today I this has nothing to do it has to do with Phi Beta Kappa
doesn’t have anything to do with college secret societies but this is a great
satirical medal from the Kappa Beta Phi Club which was established in the early
20th century by some wise guys at some college to make fun of Phi Beta Kappa
and these secret societies in general and and you can see the pointing hand
points not to the three stars which are you know the ideal the symbolic ideal
but rather to the beer stein and the and the and the the motto there is while we
live we eat and drink and that’s what they did the the only there is still a
chapter of this the Wall Street chapter of this still exists and they get
together once a year for a black-tie dinner to celebrate the spirit of
nineteen twenty eight twenty nine before the crash so that’s what they do anyway
so a lot of these other colleges had secret societies at Dartmouth for
example the two main societies there were the Social Friends which was
founded in 1783 and the United Fraternity and in 1786 there was also
later in the 1820s a literary Adelphi Society that existed only for a handful
of years but had medal similar to these two other societies and the point that’s
I think is most interesting here is its oath of secrecy is is actually preserved
you solemnly affirm that you will never divulge anything respecting the
Constitution the transactions or any other secrets secrets of the society so
help you God and as with Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard by the 1830s the
you know they were basically forced to get rid of that oath and again these
medals are you know they’re roughly an inch inch and a half are the dimensions
you know the oval and the diamond-shaped ones are probably an inch and a half
high by you know three quarters to an inch wide and very thin very thin hand
engraved not well hand engraved these two societies were at each other’s throats
you know they competed for members they each had their library before Dartmouth
itself had a library they pulled pranks on each other and it was so bad that by
the early 19th century the faculty sat them down together and said look this
you just can’t keep doing this here’s how we’ll do this we will by lot assign
every incoming freshman either to one of you or the other they don’t have to join
if they don’t want but we can’t have you fighting over these people we will
assign who they’ll be and if you can convince them to join great but
otherwise leave those kids alone if you would please so that that gives you some
sense of the the competition between at least a couple of these clubs
none of these clubs still exist at Dartmouth although interestingly my
younger son went to Dartmouth and in addition to Greek letter fraternities
that they have there they do still have senior secret societies and it’s not
until graduation day that the members of those secret societies divulge who they
are and as they parade in they have these emblems and stuff but there are
even still secret societies there today just not these Union College had a
Calliopean Society that changed its name to the Philomathean Society and I
don’t know if you’d call this a medal it’s actually more like a button or a
lapel pin kind of a thing but this is again similar to this is probably an
inch and a half in diameter I have another one of these in my collection
that has the original blue and pink ribbons but it’s very difficult to
photograph but they wore this thing on a sash you know
had this like like sash of pink and blue ribbon with a florette and then this
button was right in the middle of the floret and again it’s Greek motto is
fellowship of lovers of learning and it’s Latin motto Virtue Knowledge and
Friendship is pretty typical of these college secret societies this is not a
secret society medel but this is another one I couldn’t resist putting in from
the from the the Literary Society at King’s College which is now Columbia
University in New York it was actually formed by the faculty and a group of
prominent citizens this club was to give out to do nothing but fund and give out
prizes to students at what was then Kings College this is just a great
medal it’s a gigantic medal there are three of them that I think exist one
privately one at the University at the Museum of the City of New York one at
Columbia and about half of them were engraved by Elisha Gallaudet in the it’s
featured in the July issue of The Numismatist and the article there’s this
all this controversy you may know about about the Continental dollar which now
it’s felt it was not engraved by Elisha Gallaudet but there’s actually
documentary evidence that this was engraved by him Columbia just as these
other colleges did have secret societies the 2 of 2 main ones one is the Philolexian
Society was founded in 1802 Philolexian meaning lover of discourse and
Surgan meaning I shall rise and then the other one was the Peithologian
Society which was founded in 1806 which had both membership medals but also
award medals and I’m gonna kind of you know move a little faster here so we
won’t go into a lot of deep about them Bowdoin had at least three
secret societies certainly that we have medals from and there are probably
others the top one in the bottom were the two competing literary debate
academic societies the Peucinian Society and the Athenian Society and the the
Athenian being established as a rival to the Peucinian by a Peucinian and who didn’t who was a little bit disgruntled the Peucinian Society was originally formed
as the Philomathian Society but because they thought that was kind of
commonplace like every college had a Philomathian Society they changed their
name to Peusinian which means pine-covered and that’s based on a line
from Virgil Virgil’s Aeneid we will always have the Whispering Pines which
if you know Maine is this kind of tip is appropriate to that to that location the
Ovarian Society was a was more a drinking Club you know they had
these kind of funny funky oval medals with the motto that
means he began from an egg and you know and they drank and they held mock trials
the president was known as the Most Glorious Grand Rooster and the secretary
was the Great Chicken and if I remember if I remember this right I think this
was the one that had in their Constitution officially that each at
each meeting they would have four bottles of wine and as they grew they’re
like four bottles is not enough so they changed their constitution to say
five bottles of wine and as they grew a little bit more they said this is not
enough let’s just make it half a bottle of wine for everybody who’s here and and
if you lost the mock trial or if you weren’t there I mean if you lost the mock
trial there was a fine but if you weren’t there you were fined one
bottle of the finest wine that they could find so that gives you a sense of
some of the difference between some of these more literary secret societies and
some of the more fun-loving secret societies
South Carolina College which is now the University of South Carolina had a Euphradian Society also there was a competing Society Georgetown had two
again two societies they weren’t really secret and they were established under
the sponsorship of the brothers who ran Georgetown at that time to foster
literary debate in effect so there’s the Philodemic Society and Phlonomosian
Society that were formed in the 1830s this medal is a little bit later it’s
it’s gold this this pictures doesn’t really capture the color very well and
its secret it’s it still exists today in fact our our good friend John Kraljevich was a was an elected officer of this club and every time I see him he
says hey you still have that you know Virginia
Jefferson medal this is actually a good example of the point that I made earlier
which is that even where the existence of the society and some even some of the
names of the members of the society who were not secret they still had and still
have secret aspects of it and one of them which I kind of figure it out with
the help of a Latin scholar friend of mine is the motto you can see below that
that that view of the academic village that Jefferson designed which is now the
core of the University of Virginia campus underneath there there’s a Latin
motto Haec olim meminisse juvabit literally means it will be pleasant to
remember these things so it’s kind of sentimental you know here’s a picture of
the college it will be pleasant to remember these things okay great
Only for a classical scholar they would immediately recognize that that refers
to perhaps the most famous line from Virgil’s Aeneid which is actually Forsan et
haec olim meminisse juvabit which means perhaps someday it will be
pleasant to remember even this and the it occurs in the first book of Virgil’s
Aeneid where Odysseus and his men get shipwrecked and they’re all moaning and
groaning about how did you get us into this mess and he says perhaps someday it
will be pleasant to remember even this so so if you’re a Latin scholar and you
see this medal you kind of like smile and burst out laughing or whatever as I
said the the Greek letter fraternities emerged in the 1820s and this is my
fraternity pin from Delta Chi typical of modern fraternity pin but it was it was
in a way based on Phi Beta Kappa these these Greek letter societies there was a
union there was a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Union College it was at that
time in the 1830s 1820s still secret it’s still literary still scholarly but
there were some other some you know young men there who thought that that
wasn’t exactly what they wanted so they started this thing called Kappa Alpha
and in 1825 and that was very quickly also joined by Sigma Phi and Delta Phi
in 1827 and that is what’s now considered or discuss or described as
the Union triad and these are the original three modern Greek letter
fraternities they were very soon after that within a couple of decades followed
by branches at other at other colleges I think Sigma Phi was the one that started
this this movement to establish chapters elsewhere and then you have the second
Union triad which includes Theta Delta Chi which was formed in I think 1847 but
by the 1830s you know this concept is really you know there are many many more
colleges being established in the early United States and at each one of these
Greek letter fraternities being established still some of these typical
early American College secret societies much more the Greek letter system so let
me kind of wrap up by talking about collecting these pieces until very
recently you know it was extraordinarily difficult to do any kind of research on
them even today with the internet it’s still given what’s on these medals I
mean you know mostly you have you know some initials maybe a Latin motto maybe
a date it’s still very difficult even with the internet to figure out what
they are and so a lot of times if you’re gonna first it isn’t it wouldn’t not be
that easy to collect these there just aren’t that many of them still around
but even if you decided to do that at each moment almost no one knows about
these so you’re gonna see one in a coin dealer or a medal dealers case and
you’re gonna have to decide he doesn’t know anything about it you know anything
about it do you buy it or don’t you buy it and in a couple of cases I bought
them you know in the this Colby caught what turned out to be a Colby College
metal I bought actually in the late 1970s it was $10 it was in a group of
medals that I wanted so I bought that one too and it wasn’t until a couple of
years ago that I figured out what it was similarly with this Denison University
who was then the Granville Literary and Theological Institution Stan Steinberg
he had it wasn’t that expensive you know and I bought it and I figured out that
it was this and it was actually the way I figured it out was I found almost
exactly the same matte medal for Yale for Yale’s Calliopean Society but it
had different Greek letters and figured out that this was one of the one of the
very few of these societies where somebody who knew about Yale’s Calliopean Society established a Calliopean Society at Denison based on that and so
the metal is is almost exactly the same this Brown University medal is doubly
interesting this is one I decided this particular medal is one that I decided
not to buy Stan had it I thought it was just a little too expensive I had no
idea what it was he sold it to Jonathan Brecker who’s here Jonathan is a good
friend so he offered it to me it a little bit more than what he paid stand
for and that’s like that yeah I don’t think I wanted Jonathan sold it to John
Kraljavich and John of course you know being the scholar that he is figured out
what it was from Brown University and then he offered it to me and many wanted
you know more money and at that point I you know I probably I sort of kicked
myself for not buying it but it all worked out great because this morning I
bought one of these from Tony Terranova I am so excited I am so excited so
anyway thank you Tony yeah well I don’t want to get into that
but it was it was fair enough it was parent it was fair enough yeah
this paradigm so so some of these though they’re still not um I get five minutes
I get three minutes alright so so some of these are I still don’t know what
they are I you know here’s one again I bought it I didn’t know what it was
still have it I think it’s from Bradford College which was a college that existed
briefly you know maybe for several decades in the 19th century in Haverhill
Mass but if anybody knows it’s it’s not it’s definitely not from the Phi Beta
Phi that is the women’s fraternity that exists today which was established in
around the 1940s or something like that it’s um it’s to me it looks like it’s an
early American College secret society metal I just don’t know from where and
then there are also metals that are a little bit later that kind of fit into
this category and are cool here are two from Tufts this top one
went through a fire but even at that it’s kind of a cool thing it was this
Order of the Coffeepot was an offshoot of Theta Delta Chi started at a late
night party after students who were inclined to more studious things had
gone to bed and then this Order of the Round Table was established as a rival
to that one but they both are defunct you know they only existed for about ten
years but these are very cool so we’ve talked about you know secret
societies generally some of the early American college secret societies Phi
Beta Kappa how they were some of the other colleges that had these medals
these societies and these medals and then how the Greek letter fraternities
superseded them starting in about the 1820s 1830s and then how if you want to
collect them don’t just let me know when you see them okay thanks one minute for
questions are we Not even