People Who Love Masonic Libraries & Museums: Cedar Rapids in 1928 & 2008
All Dressed Up: The Loyal Order of Moose

New to the Collection: Masonic Protective Association Fobs

2009_048_4DS1 Recently, the National Heritage Museum was given not one, but two interesting fobs, both with identical text: “The Masonic Protective Assoc’n.  Worcester, Mass.  Pays Sickness and Accident Indemnity to Masons Only.  Telegraph this Number to the M.P.A.  It Will Identify Me If Injured or Unconscious.”  And, both fobs have a five-digit number, one is 28298 and the other is 69147.  Unfortunately, we no longer know who originally owned either fob.

Back in the early 1900s, these fobs allowed members of the Masonic Protective Association (MPA) to indicate that they had insurance in case of injury or death.  Formed in 1895 in Worcester, Massachusetts, the company operated as a mutual cooperative, selling to Freemasons only.  The company offered accident, disability and life insurance at a time when few employees had sufficient insurance through their job.  2009_039_27DS1

In 1930, the Paul Revere Corporation was formed as a subsidiary to the MPA to expand its business beyond selling to Freemasons, but by 1966, the MPA was “retired” and the former subsidiary bought out its parent company.  Today, Unum owns what was once the MPA.

If you will be visiting the Museum in the next couple of months (it’s now September 2010), be sure to stop by our display of recent acquisitions in the lobby – one of the fobs is on view until late 2010.  And, if you have one of these fobs yourself – or know a story about them or the company, please leave a comment below!

UPDATE - April 2013 - As you will see in the comments below, many people have written to let us know that they have a fob - we love hearing from you!  Many of those who have left comments have asked if there is a way to match the number on the fob to the name of a person.  Unfortunately, there is no centralized list allowing us to match the numbers to policyholders. It requires identifying the company that originally produced the fob, figuring out whether they are still in business (perhaps under a different name) and then contacting them to find out what kind of corporate archives they maintain. I have not been successful in tracking down the people associated with any of our fobs. Regardless, these are interesting objects that help to remind us of how the insurance industry has evolved.  If anyone has had success with identifying a fob owner, let us know.  And, keep commenting to tell us about the fobs you find!

Masonic Protective Association fob, 1895-1922, Worcester, Massachusetts, gift of Gordon Lothrop, 2009.048.4. 

Masonic Protective Association fob, 1895-1922, Worcester, Massachusetts, gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen Jr., 2009.039.27. 

Comments

Kmbr

Some of these groups (like Ridgely Protective Association) published lists of paid benefits and these pop up on open source ereaders like Google books
https://books.google.com/books/about/List_of_Sick_and_Accident_Benefits_Paid.html?id=4OKxAQAACAAJ

I know who my tag belongs to and it was issued under IOOF (Independent Order of Old Fellows). RPA was also based in Worcester, Mass And my tag is the same shape as the above Mason tag but different layout and font stating “pays sick and accident benefits to IOOF only”.

Sarah Willmon

I have a fob shown in the second picture about Paul Revere 1930's part. Is there a worth to them or just cool to have?

Ymelda Rivera Laxton

Dear Bill,

Thanks for reading the blog and for the information. It is good to know about fobs like your grandfather's and to learn more about a protective association in Canada.

Bill G

I have a Canadian version of the fob - same except perfectly round and refers to the The Protective Association of Canada, Grandby, Quebec. It has a four digit number. It belonged to my grandfather who was active in the Masons in Carleton Place near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Hilary Anderson Stelling

Dear Clyde--We would be happy to take a look at your key ring. Please feel free to send an image to info@srmml.org. Best, Hilary Anderson Stelling, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

Daniel Erwin

I have a fob with markings identical to those reported on this site earlier by Spork Schivago. The number on mine is 291746 and was found in Muskegon, Michigan.

CLYDE GRIPE

HIGH, I HAVE RECENTLY FOUND A FOB AND IT WAS ON A KEY RING WITH 13 SKELETON KEYS ON IT. I'M NEW WITH THIS. CAN SOME ONE EXPLAIN EHAT THE KEYS MEAN. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.

Hilary Anderson Stelling

Dear Jim--Many thanks for being a blog reader and for your comment about the Masonic Protective Association. Hilary Anderson Stelling, Director of Collections and Exhibitions

Jim Young

I sold insurance for Paul Revere for 16 years. The Mass. Insurance Commission
made MPA stops selling to masons only so they changed the name to Mass.
Protective Assoc. and it was business as usual. When the Commissioner caught on to what happened, the commission withdrew the insurance license from the new
MPA and Paul Revere was formed.
When the company sold to masons only you could see the blue outline of a heart on the cover of the policy and their motto was A Company With A Heart.
That was very true back then. It was good to have had that experience as I was a mason then and learned the importance of keeping ones word.

Ymelda Laxton

Dear Spork,

Thank you for your note and for sharing information about the fob you found. Any and all information is useful for our research files.

Spork Schivago

I live in Corning, NY. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law (my wife's brother and his wife) came to dig up some hasa plants next to our house (which we bought 8 months ago). Anyway, I was walking by the area looking at the ground today and found a fob like yours in the top left most picture. Same shape and everything, but different words. It appears to be the same one that two posters commented on, from the Ridgley Protective Association. It says on the front side:
Ridgley Protective Association
PAYS
SICK AND
ACCIDENT
BENEFITS
TO I-O-O-F
ONLY

Worcester, MASS

Then on the back:
IF INJURED OR UNCONSCIOUS
THIS NUMBER
231001
TELEGRAPHED
TO THE
R.P.A.
WILL IDENTIFY ME

I was trying to find if the RPA was still in business and this is how I came across your site. Perhaps this gives us a clue to as how big the company might have been, with me living in Corning, NY, another user living in Iowa, and another living in Washington. Thanks!

Ymelda Laxton

Dear Larry,

Thank you for your comment and for reading the blog. It is helpful to know what kinds of protective association fobs are out there, especially if they are associated with a person and lodge. Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator.

Ymelda Laxton

Hi John,
Thank you for reading the blog. We can not say for certain if lower numbers on the fob correspond with earlier dates. It seems like a good guess but numbering may have been different for each relief association or insurance company. Good luck with your research and let us know if you find any new information. Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator.

Larry D. Kendall

I have a fob from The Ridgely Protective Association of
Worcester, Mass. which "Pays Sick And Accident Benefits
To I-O-O-F Only". The reverse also contains the
number 148149. This was with some things from my
Great Grandfather who was a Charter Member of Kiona
Lodge #243 of the Independent Order Of Oddfellows of
Kiona - Benton City, Benton County, Washington.

John Lawrenson

I was just lucky enough to find one on EBay for $12.95. It's number 151385. It seems to be a low number compared to the one that Robert Nichols posted above. I'm assuming that would mean it is older?

Ymelda Laxton

Hi Carole,

Thank you for reading the blog and for sharing your comment about the heart-shaped fob you found. We appreciate knowing what other fobs are out there. Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator.

Carole Arsenault

I found the heart with some old trinkets of my great grandmother. The number on it is 167668

Aimee Newell

Hi Dale: Thanks for sharing your find with us. I still hope that we will eventually find more records to help tell us who the original owners were. Thanks for reading the blog and commenting! Aimee Newell, Director of Collections

Aimee Newell

Hi Rob: Museum ethics and the IRS prohibit us from commenting on value. You could find an appraiser in your area (often a service available at local auction houses) and ask them. You could also look online to see how much other fobs have sold for. Thanks so much for reading our blog and commenting! Aimee Newell, Director of Collections

Dale kimball

Very interesting. I found a fob similar to yours shaped exactly like the one on the right. It is from The Ridgely Protective Assn. Boston Mass. #396230. The opposite side says Health and Accident Insurance for select risks exclusively. It is in very good condition. Dale Kimball, Iowa

Rob Melton

Any idea how much these are worth? We recently bought a keychain off eBay and it contained a fob like the top one imaged in you blog. It appears to be sterling silver.

Aimee Newell

Hi Kelly: Thanks so much for reading our blog and commenting. I'm so glad that this post and the comments were enjoyable. And, thanks for sharing the story of your fob! They seem to be the kind of thing that, once you start looking, you see them everywhere! Aimee Newell, Director of Collections

Kelly Shepherd

I just ran across my fob in a display in my own restaurant of all places. I have a very aclectic collection of odds and ends!! I thank you so much for blogging about them and I have enjoyed reading all of the comments. Thank you for preserving history. Kelly

Aimee Newell

Hi Anita: Thanks so much for reading our blog and commenting. It's fascinating to learn how many of these turn up, all around the United States. Good luck with your research! Aimee Newell, Director of Collections

Anita

Moved into a home built in 1936 in Tulsa and found the fob #40102 on a key ring with numerous skeleton keys. I will need to research the former owners and possibly find the identity. Excited for the challenge.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)