Washington Temperance Society Medals


Washington Temperance Society Medals

     The Washington Temperance Society of Baltimore was founded on April 5th, 1840 by six men in Chasels Tavern on Liberty Street, Baltimore. These friends, business and family men, had slowly come to realize the power of alcohol over their lives and decided to form a society and help each other overcome this addiction. They were not a temperance movement in the sense of overcoming societies ills when it came to alcohol but in terms of the individuals reliance drinking. They pledged to meet weekly and these meetings were to be based on individual experiences with alcohol and not abstract principles or discussions.
      They also immediately began recruiting friends and associates who had drinking problems to join the Society; within 6 months there were 80 to 90 members. The organization soon grew so large, and their meetings so crowded, that it was decided to form chapters in different parts of the city. And other similar groups had sprung up imitating the principles of the Washington Temperance Society. On the first anniversary of their founding a grand procession was held and was reported to have been attended by 6000 to 8000 individuals. Soon after "missionaries" were sent out and chapters were formed around the country. It is estimated there were as many as 600,000 members at one time.
      The larger temperance movements that became more concerned with the use of alcohol in society as a whole, and legislating against its manufacture and sale, seemed to bring about the end of the Washingtonians. By 1866 one author wrote "...their thunder is worn out. The novelty of the commonplace narrative is used up, and we cannot raise an interest..." ( Marsh,J. Temperance Recollections. New York; Scribner, 1866).

 The Washington Pledge
"We, whose names are annexed, desirous of forming a society
for our natural benefit, and to guard against a pernicious practice,
which is injurious to our health, standing and families - we do
pledge ourselves as gentlemen, not to drink any spirituous or malt
liquors, wine or cider."

Temperance Declaration Medal

GW-172, Baker 328A, copper, 42mm

GW-172, Baker 328B, bronze, 42mm

GW-172, Baker 328C, brass, 41.8mm

GW-172, Baker 328D, white metal, 42.1mm


Washington Temperance Society silk ribbon

House of Temperance Medal

GW-174, Baker 329, bronze, 42mm

                     GW-174 in copper (unlisted), 41.6mm              

                                                                                                                                                      GW-174, Baker 329A, brass, 41.6mm


GW-174, Baker 329B, white metal, 41.6mm

Temperance medal by Halliday, white metal, 44.8mm
    This is not the work of Robert Sr. but notice the similarities in the reverse design. Was this a common image of the temperance movement that both designers adopted or did one copy the other?

"Plea for the Intemperate" by David M. Reese, A.M., M.D.,
published 1841 and addressed to William K. Mitchell,
President of the Washington Temperance Society  
of Baltimore.

The first paragraph of the Preface reads " The paramount motive
which has prompted this publication, is to furnish the benevolent
with a 'Tract for the times', which they may read and circulate
among a class of our fellow men, who have been inaccessible
by the ordinary issues from he press, because of the abrupt and
unceremonious title of most Temperance publications"

Temperance Society Award Medal

GW-175, Baker 356, copper, 41.5mm, unawarded

GW-175, Baker 356A, bronze, 41.6mm

GW-175, Baker 356B, white metal, 41.7mm

Temperance Society / Rochester Mechanics mule

GW-173, Baker 341, Greenslet GM-67, copper, 41.7mm

 GW-173, Baker 341A, Greenslet GM-67, bronze, 42mm

GW-173, Baker 341B, Greenslet GM-67, white metal, 42mm

GW-173, brass, 42mm
(Neil Musante in "Medallic Washington" list a version in this metal, neither
Greenslet or Rulau/Fuld have this listed)

 I suspect the first two reverses, The Temperance Pledge and House of Temperance, were
 originally produced for the organization by Robert Sr.. The Awarded To die was used
with the Rochester Mechanics die and Essex County Institute die and seem to be
logical pairings, not so with the Washington Temperance die. My guess is these
mulings were produced by George H. to provide collectors with scarce pieces.


House of Temperance / Awarded to mule

Copper, 41.6mm
      In his book on Augustus B. Sage Q. David Bowers list this combination of dies and says an example was offered in a Sage fixed price list of 1859 in which it was called "very rare".

Unknown Temperance Society Medal

White metal, 39.75mm
Under magnification the obverse of this piece appears to be from
Robert Lovett Sr.'s Washington Temperance Society die
although the signature is not visible. The motto on the reverse
reads " We do pledge ourselves as gentleman that we will not
drink any spiritous or malt liquors, wine, or cider". The surfaces
are very rough - from rusted dies, poor planchet quality,
corrosion? Anyone with any knowledge of this piece please
contact me.

House of Temperance / Temperance Declaration mule

White metal, 41.6mm
This appears to be a reverse of GW-172 and GW-174