February 2, 2008

Masonic Exonumia

There's a lot of Masonic exonumia available for sale on Masonic Memorabilia.

No, that's not a dirty word. It's not anti-Masonic, and it's not some sort of wild conspiracy theory revolving around the Bilderburgers or the Illuminati, either.

Exonumia refers to studying or collecting coin-like objects -- tokens, medallions, coin-like souvenirs, elongated coins, wooden nickels, and the like. A person who collects exonumia is an exonumist.

In the Masonic Coins and Medals section of Masonic Memorabilia, the exonumia enthusiast or collector will find Masonic pennies, elongated Masonic pennies, Masonic medallions, such as one from a 1965 dedication of a Masonic Lodge in California, and even silver bars with the Masonic symbol engraved on them.

1864 MASONIC PENNY  INSCRIBED  NOV 14 1916There are many antique Masonic pennies, coins and tokens, including a very interesting looking Masonic token dating from 1864 and imprinted "Cambridge Royal Arch Chapter," which of course is part of the Knights Templar, one of the bodies Masonic can join after achieving the 3rd degree in the Blue Lodge.

A few definitions, in case you're interested:

A piece, usually metal, issued by a government to serve as legal tender. Coins are not exonumia.

A piece issued by non-governmental bodies or entities with an exchange value or a denomination, either explicit or implied. Tokens are meant to be used for certain type s of commercial exchanges, such as subway tokens, for example

Usually circular or round, issued as a souvenir or for artistic purposes and not to be used for commerce.

A medal larger than 15 centimeters across.

Elongated coin:
An official governmental coin, run through a pressing device to change its shape, and generally used as a souvenir.

A governmental coin stamped with letters or symbols, to serve as a souvenir.

There are many other types of exonumia, but these are the primary and best-known ones. It's astonishing how much Masonic exonumia is out there.