When a Mason earned the Fourth Degree, Royal Arch Mason, they earned a penny. The history of the penny is shrouded in mystery. When a Mason became a Royal Arch Mason they put their Mark in the Chapter Book of Marks and put it on their penny. This ritual appears to have a developed-in America during the 1800s. The first mention of a R.A.M Penny was in Medals of the Masonic Fraternity by Marvin in 1880. Marvin listed a Penny similar to the current Chapter Penny issued by the Excelsior Mark Lodge no 216 in Philadelphia. Marvin also lists a stock Penny. The stock pennies were silver and had a Keystone on one side and blank on the other side. The earliest I have been able to find was from the Pentucket Chapter from Haverhill MA. in 1876. To date I have only seen 4 of these pennies – each uniquely engraved.
Sometime around 1890, the Chapters started having unique dies engraved. B.P. Wright, President of ANA and a Mason, issued a series of three booklets on Masonic Pennies 1901-1904. Many of the Masonic Pennies were works of engraving art. In the early days, the Chapters were very secretive and would not share information on their pennies. Many of the pennies were buried with the Masons. The Hanauer Collection of Masonic Pennies started in 1899 became the basis for the collection at the House of the Temple in Washington DC. E.A. King Cataloged this collection (about 8,000 pennies) in the late 1920s and issued the book Masonic Chapter Pennies. There are several pennies in the collection that are the only ones know. We have cataloged over 17,000 pennies with images on tokencatalog.com.
This presentation will go through the history of Masonic Pennies and examples of the different types of pennies. Many of the Pennies have interesting stories and some of them will be discussed. Much of this information is being presented for the first time.
Instructor: Tom Carson