Tokens

Irish Masonic Tokens.

A token is usually described as “An object of value” and in the past has been used as a substitute for coinage or money. This was very much the case in the 16th to 18th centuries when tradesmen’s tokens were commonly used in lieu of the copper coinage of the day. This was mainly because said copper coinage was generally in very short supply.

Today, tokens are nowadays associated with supermarket trolleys, Christmas gifts, casinos and gaming. We all have our favourite token in Monopoly, for example. However, we in the Masonic Order use tokens as a symbol of belonging or membership. An alternative description, was popular in mainland Europe is the term “Jeton” or “Jeton du Presence”.

It is my intention in this short address to record, some of the many varieties of  Mark Token, which can be found throughout the Irish Constitution. As some of you will ready know, these tokens play an important part in the Mark Degree, a degree that is given in Ireland, under the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter as a pre-cursor to actually receiving a Royal Arch Degree. The situation however is different in England, where Mark Masonry, is worked as an independent degree under the control of The Grand Lodge of Master Mark Masons.  Scotland is different again, where the Mark Degree is worked under the control of The Grand Lodge of Scotland.  A Brother must be a Master Mason before he is invited to become a Mark Master Mason in a ceremony given whilst the lodge is working in the Second or Fellowcraft Degree.

Token     Piece of metal, similar to a coin, originally issued by tradesmen and banks in lieu of legal tender. In Masonry Tokens are normally only encountered in Mark Lodges where they are issued to all qualified Mark Master Masons. There are two types, the Mark Penny and Halfpenny. The Mark Penny is about the size of a two pound coin and has the peculiar keystone of the order complete with the inscription H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S.  On the reverse is a crossed maul / chisel complete with a spray of shamrocks.

                

The Halfpenny differs in that it is smaller, the size of a two pence  piece, and the reverse will normally have the name of a specific Mark Master’s Lodge on it instead of the spray of shamrock. Thanks to the efforts of Excellent Companion Frank Elliott of Holywood , there are now quite a number of different Irish Mark  Lodge Halfpennies available to the Irish collector.

Halfpenny Token No 1

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend – Union Star Mark Master Mason Lodge No 198.This is the Mark Lodge associated with 198 RAC located in the Masonic Centre, Newtownards.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone on which are imprinted within two circles the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto “To Every Man his Wages”.

The Setting Maul is used by the Operative Mason to knock off all superfluous knobs and excrescences and the Chisel is to further smooth and prepare the stone for the hands of the more expert Craftsman. So we  as Speculative Masons should strive to remove the superfluous aspects of our character so that we become better suited to the work in hand.

The Keystone is a wedge shaped stone piece, located at the apex of an Arch. It is the final stone set in position to keep the Arch self – supporting, and if removed, the Arch will fail and collapse. So in life Freemasons should strive to become the kingpin to support their Lodge, Chapter, Order and Constitution. The biblical reference from Psalm 118 verse 22 is most suitable – “the stone that the builders rejected is become the head of the corner”

Halfpenny Token No 2 

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend – M.M.M. Lodge No 51 East Belfast. This Lodge meets in the Arthur Square complex in Belfast at the present time.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone and engraved thereon is an equilateral Triangle surrounded by two circles within which are the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is a slightly different motto – “They received every man a penny”.

Halfpenny Token No 3

Obverse in this case is the six pointed star emblematic of the Seal of Solomon with the triple Tau symbol in the centre of the Seal. Around the rim is the legend – Rev Samuel Cochrane Royal Arch Chapter No 413, a chapter associated with the Ballymacarrett Hall in East Belfast.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone on which are imprinted within two circles the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto “To Every Man his Wages”.

The Seal of Solomon has been recorded in medieval Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts as s magical signet ring given to Solomon by God giving him a range of , mystical powers. In alchemy, the combination of the fire and water symbols ( up and down triangles ) is also known as The Seal of Solomon. This symbol is representative of the combination of opposites and transmutation ( As Above So Below ). By combining the fire and water symbols the alchemical symbols for air and earth are also created. The upward facing triangle is divided along the baseline of the other triangle forming the Air symbol and conversely the lower facing triangle is similarly divided to form the earth symbol. The Seal of Solomon therefore represents all that is unified in Freemasonry, in perfect balance with the cosmos.

The Tau Cross or Cross of St Anthony is a cross in the form of the Greek letter “T”. The Triple tau is a figure formed using three of these crosses meeting in a point, and therefore resembling the letter “T” resting on the traverse bar of an “H”. This emblem placed in the centre of a triangle and circle – both emblems of Deity – constitute the jewel of The Royal Arch, where it is so highly esteemed to be called “The Emblem of All Emblems” and the Grand Emblem of Royal Arch Masonry. The original Masonic significance of the Triple Tau symbol has been variously explained. Some suppose it to include the initials of the Temple at Jerusalem ( Templum Hierasdymae ), others say that it symbolises the mystical union of Father and Son – “H” signifying Jehovah and “T” or the Cross representing the Son.

Halfpenny Token No 4

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend – Union Band Mark Master Mason Lodge No 556.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone on which are imprinted within a circle the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto “To Every Man his Wages”.

Halfpenny Token No 5 

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend – Amon M.M.M. Lodge No 613.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone and engraved thereon is an equilateral Triangle surrounded by two circles within which are the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto – “To every man his wages”.

Halfpenny Token No 6 

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend – Craigantlet Mark Master Mason Lodge No 486.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone on which are imprinted within two circles the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto “They Received Every Man A Penny”.

Halfpenny Token No7 

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend –  Stewartstown Royal Arch Chapter No 783.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone and engraved thereon is an equilateral Triangle surrounded by two circles within which are the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto – “They Received Every Man a penny”.

Halfpenny Token No 8 

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend – Abbey Royal Arch Chapter No 180.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone on which are imprinted within two circles the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto “They Received Every Man A Penny”.

Halfpenny Token No 9 

Obverse has a representation of the Rosetta Stone in the centre with a nameplate saying “The Rosetta Stone, Around the rim is the legend – Rosetta R.A.C. No 188, and the dates 1897 - 1997.

       

Reverse has the representation of a Keystone at the centre of which is shown the setting maul and chisel around which are imprinted, within two circles the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. On the outer rim is the motto “To Every Man His Wages”.

Halfpenny Token No 10.

Manufactured in 2008 by Millennium Medals, this particular token was struck to commemorate the centenary of Belfast Volunteers Royal Arch Chapter No 439 on the roll of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Ireland. On the obverse is a copy of the old brass cap badge worn by The Belfast Volunteers, whilst on War Duty during the First World War. The Lodge motto “Amor et Obedientia” and the dates 1928 – 2008. Around the rim is a cluster of six individual shamrocks. The reverse of the token is a standard key stone bearing the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. with the motto “To every man his wages” over  and a group of seven linked shamrocks around the base. The Millennium Medals MM stamp finish the decoration of the reverse face. But who were the Belfast Volunteers? 

        

During the First World War (1914-18), the War Office approved the formation of a semi-military volunteer body, designated the "Belfast Volunteer Defence Corps", for the purpose of relieving for overseas service some of the combatant soldiers who were stationed in Belfast on guard and security duties. The Corps was mainly manned by volunteer Belfast business men who were for various reasons exempt from or unfit for active military service. It was thus somewhat similar to the Home Guard formed in the Second World War.

The Headquarters of the Corps was established in the Harbour area in a building made available by Harland and Wolff Ltd. A Regular Army Permanent Staff Instructor was allocated to the Corps and the volunteers (who soon reached a strength of above 600 were trained in various soldiery skills - marching, musketry, guard duties etc. When volunteers were adjudged proficient, they were permitted to purchase their own uniforms. The main duties of the Corps were to guard the Harbour area, comprising docks, wharves, railway goods yards, petrol storage tanks and other installations vital to the war effort. The volunteers were unpaid and as they were of course carrying on their usual business or profession during normal working hours, their Corps duties were mainly performed at night or during weekends. Each man whilst on duty was armed with a rifle and five rounds of ammunition. On occasions the members of the Corps attended courses in musketry, gun drill, etc. at Army Camps such as Kilroot.

The enthusiasm and esprit-de-corps which quickly developed in this select band of men was very great: such was the spirit of friendship and comradeship that some of the members who were Masons were inspired with the idea of forming a Masonic Lodge in order to perpetuate, after the War, this happy spirit in a more enduring form. Warrant No. 439 was obtained and Belfast Volunteers Masonic Lodge was prepared to start on its splendid career as a unique Lodge which brings together in Masonic Fraternity former members of the Belfast Volunteer Defence Corps and others who volunteered for service in His Majesty's Forces.

The Grantees of the Warrant were V.W. Bro. J. Pim Thompson, W.M.; W. Bro. John W. Gillmour, S.W. and Bro. Robert Ervine, J.W. There were a further fourteen founding Brethren. In March 1921 it was decided to limit the membership of the Lodge to a maximum of 80, this figure was increased to 90 in February 1923. The early years say various presentations made by the brethren including two silver cups which were competed for from time to time.

Due to the "black out" it was decided at the October 1939 meeting to meet at 6.00 p.m. in future and this continued for the duration. The May 1941 the Lodge's usual meeting place was "out of bounds" (owing to the proximity of a UXB). W. Bros. W. Baxter and D.H. McCoubrey executed (un-observed by authority) a flanking movement to obtain the warrant and jewels and the Lodge met by candle light at very short notice in 9, College Square North. Thus 439 was able to declare "we never closed".

In February 1956 the Lodge decided to have one of its swords refurbished and presented to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Antrim. At the same meeting the brethren made a donation of £100 to the Building Fund of the New Provincial Hall. May 1956 saw the last meeting to be held by the Lodge in the Masonic Rooms, 16 Donegal Square South and in September of that year they met in the new Provincial Hall, 15 Rosemary Street.

In January 1961 Bro. R.S. Adamson was installed as Worshipful Master, being the first of the Second World War soldiers to occupy the Chair of 439. His father was the first of the First World War soldiers to occupy the Chair of 439 (in 1935) in succession to the veterans who founded the Lodge.

The first W.M. of 439 was Rt. Wor. Bro. J. Pim Thompson and the first annual dues fixed were £1. 10. 0., Country Members 15/=. Initiation Fee £7. 7. 0., and Affiliation Fee £2. 2. 0.  The first of the “old soldiers” nights was held in 1935 and, after the Second World Way, the “old” continued to entertain the “young” Brethren.  Sadly all the First War Brethren have now passed west and those “young” soldiers are now no longer spring chickens. The Lodge however still remains very active, even after almost 80 years and this unique lodge continues to draw its membership from serving and ex-service members of H.M. Forces and the Merchant Navy.

From the G.L. Newsletter, December, 2006 – The crest of the Belfast Volunteers M.L. No. 439 is based on the original cap badge of the Belfast Volunteer Defence Corps., founded in 1915.  So, when W. Bro. Mal Ross identified one of these rare items for sale on “e-bay” recently, he quickly contacted the Brethren and made arrangements to obtain it for the Lodge. … This cap badge is of both local and Masonic historical interest and demonstrates how Lodges can use modern technology to identify and retrieve items from their history and increase interest in Freemasonry in general.

Halfpenny Token No 11.

In this case we have a modern token produced for the Companions of R.A.C. No 414 Bushmills. The obverse has Compasses, Square and letter “G” with two shamrocks, located within a circle bearing the legend Bushmills 414 and two small five pointed stars. The reverse has the Three Great Lights set over two sprigs of Acacia with the motto “Let there be Light” set over.


       

Halfpenny Token No 12.

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend  “Ballinderry Mark Master Masons Lodge No 326”. On the reverse face is the usual symbol of a Keystone bearing the mystical letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. The inner circle is blank. The outer rim bears the legend “They received every man a penny”.

            

Halfpenny Token No 13.

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend  “Falls Mark Master Masons Lodge No 226”. It has, of course been many years since this Lodge met in the upstairs room of a public house in the Lower Falls. However the name harks back to a time when Freemasonry was much more widespread in the city than would be the case today. The Mark Lodge currently meets in the Arthur Square Masonic Centre, Belfast

        
On the reverse face is the usual symbol of a Keystone bearing the mystical letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. The inner circle contains a representation of an equilateral triangle. The outer rim bears the legend “They received every man a penny”.

Halfpenny Token No 14.

Obverse is the crossed representation of a setting maul and chisel and around the rim is the legend  “Symons Mark Master Masons Lodge No 278.

      


Enamelled Tokens

And whilst we are on the question of classification, I will now highlight the different types of enamel work that can be found on some examples of Irish Presentation pieces, usually issued by Mark Lodges to record a special anniversary or similar event.

Type 1 Enamel   When the underlying shape to be enamelled is first made, the manufacturer sub-divides his pattern into a number of segments by means of raised metal lip.  This enables the enameller to apply different colours in each segment, which can then all be fired together in the one operation.

Halfpenny Token No15 

Obverse - In this case, this is a Lodge token bearing the name Harmonie Masonic Lodge No 282, around a Lodge crest.

       

Reverse is silvered and has representations of the Compasses and Square in the Fellowcraft position, set on the open Volume of the Sacred Law. Around the whole is a sprig of Acacia, six number five pointed stars and the legend  “ Let there be light”.

Type 2 Enamel    In the second type of enamel each colour is applied and fired separately, resulting in a build-up of ten to twenty separate colours in each piece. This is a slow and skilled task, which needs careful quality control to ensure that the enamels don’t crack after each firing. However on the upside it allows the artist to produce a much finer piece with a greater depth of colour, in effect a miniature painting of the object required.
 
Companions, I have concluded this small section with a number of other tokens from my collection, including Scottish examples and other and hope that you have enjoyed this small contribution to the history and development of Mark Master Mason Tokens over the last 30 years of our recent history.

      

      

      

      

      

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