In 1846, members of the Sons of Temperance formally established a new, but related group, the Templars of Honor and Temperance in New York City. Members of this group, like the Sons of Temperance, swore an oath “…of abstinence and fraternity.” They also declared, “our enemy is alcohol; our war one of extermination.”
The Templars of Honor developed, in part, because some members of the Sons of Temperance, founded in 1842, desired a more secret and elaborate ritual for their ceremonies. Initially the Templars of Honor's ritual included three degrees: Love, Purity and Fidelity. In 1851, members adopted three more degrees: Tried, Approved and Select Templar. In developing all their degrees, the Templars of Honor drew on Masonic and other fraternal rituals for inspiration. As well, their regalia included aprons and collars and they employed some of the same symbols that as were used in Freemasonry.
Intriguingly, as in the case of the Mark Degree, part of Royal Arch Freemasonry, the Templars of Honor asked members to select a personal, meaningful emblem. These emblems were engraved onto membership badges that bore symbols related to the group in relief, along with the Templar of Honor’s name. These round, coin-like badges, because they featured a personal symbol, resemble Masonic mark medals and illustrate another way that the Templars of Honor used Masonic degrees as models for their work.
Although these badges, or signets, were given to members, surviving personalized examples are uncommon. One is pictured to the left. On it, an engraver incised the name of an unknown member, C. F. Adams, and his symbol, a horse’s head, within an equilateral triangle. His badge hangs from a larger badge made from purple ribbon and silver cut and engraved to resemble an altar with steps above a temple. It also bears symbols related to the group, such as the emblem of the organization, the nine-pointed Star of Fulfillment enclosed within a triangle, at the center. Letters on the columns holding up the temple's domed roof refer to virtues valued by the Templars of Honor: truth, love, purity, and fidelity. The other side of the round membership badge, pictured below, is not personalized. It bears different symbols important to the group--a lamp, a serpent biting its tail, an altar, and others--in relief. The Templars made the round signets out of white metal and with silver and gold finishes.
The 1877 Manual of the Templars of Honor and Temperance featured illustrations and a description of the group’s membership badge. The author noted how members should use this badge, advising them to “Bear this Signet and Symbol with you. Wear it next to your heart.... Study well its lines, and angles…figures, and letters, and mystic characters. It will speak to your heart, and its lessons and talismanic power will, if occasion should require…revive your drooping spirit.”
If you have any comments about this Templars of Honor membership badge, or know of other examples, please let us know below.
Rev. George B. Jocelyn, Manual of the Templars of Honor and Temperance, (New York, NY: J. N. Stearns, 1877).
Albert C. Stevens, The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities, (New York, NY: Hamilton Printing and Publishing Company, 1899), 410-412.
“Notes and Queries Temple of Honor Medal,” American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. XIII, July, 1878-July, 1879, October, 1878, 47-48.