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.
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.