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Tammany Society badge

Object Number: 
1982.106
Date: 
1790-1815
Medium: 
Silver
Dimensions: 
Overall: 1/8 x 2 3/4 in. ( 0.3 x 7 cm ) Silver Weight: 16 dwt (25 g)
Marks: 
engraved: on front: "Beware[in block letters]/Where Liberty dwells there is my Country/Oct. 12, 1492." in script
Description: 
Slightly domed uniface badge; reverse has traces of original suspension mounts and later copper strap; obverse engraved with image of coiled rattlesnake, "BEWARE" above, "Octr 12th 1492." below, and "Where Liberty dwells there is my Country" around edge. Unmarked.
Gallery Label: 
The Society of St. Tammany or Columbian Order was formed in the 1780s in New York City in response to the city's more exclusive clubs. Initially most of its members were craftsmen; they adopted Tamanend, a legendary Delaware chief, as their patron and used pseudo-Indian insignia and titles. Meetings were held in a hall on Spruce Street from 1798 to 1812 and in another at Nassau and Frankfort streets from 1812 to 1868. The Tammany Society entered the political arena in the early 19th century with their support of Aaron Burr, Martin Van Buren, and such progressive policies as universal male suffrage, lien laws to protect craftsmen, and the abolition of imprisonment for debt. Members of Tammany Society wore badges of this design on their chests to identify themselves at meetings. The Tammany Society passed an act on January 11, 1790, specifying the badge's design and iconography: a snake with thirteen rattles and a motto, "BEWARE." Its reverse represented Columbus's Landing, the date October 12, 1492, and the motto "WHERE LIBERTY DWELLS there is my COUNTRY."
Bibliography: 
Journal of American Society of Arms Collectors no. 81, September 22, 1999, p. 22. American Journal of Numismatics, April 1884.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Robert G. Goelet
Provenance: 
Original owner unknown; purchased by the donor from Guthman Americana, Westport, Conn., in 1982.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group