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Masonic Medal

Place Made:
Franklin Tennessee United States of America
Date Made:
silver with gold wash
HOA: 2-3/4″; WOA: 1-7/8″; DOA: 3/8″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Oval masonic medal in the form of a locket, made from what appears to be silver with a gold wash (which has darkened on the exterior but retains its yellow color on the interior). Front and back are hinged at top, with catch at bottom. Ring for hanging attached to top. Engraved design on front is sun inside triangle, surrounded by circle with intials. Lodge name in banner engraved across top, owner’s name in banner engraved across bottom. Date engraved on reverse. The symbols used in the medal’s decoration imply that its owner followed the York Rite, the oldest of all Masonic rites.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved on front at top: “HIRAM • LODGE • No. 7”; engraved on front around the center circle: “H*T*W*W*S*S*T*K*S*”; engraved on front at bottom: “JOHN • DEAN”; engraved on reverse: “1798”. Tennessean John Dean (1803-1875), husband of Eliza Andrews Dean (1802-1879), would have been 22 years old when the cornerstone for Hiram Lodge No. 7, in Franklin, Williamson Co., Tennessee was laid in 1825.

FORM: “Mason’s medals” were an important form of regalia that included personal medals indicating membership and commemorating initiation into the degrees of Masonry. In the late eighteent and early nineteenth centuries the medals were suspended from a silk ribbon worn around the neck, the color of the ribbon consistently indicating use within the Masonic degrees. “In the 18th century a profusion of medals illustrating the symbols of Freemasonry were made for the personal use of Masonic bretheren. They were worn not as symbols of office [as Masonic jewels were] but as badges that proclaimed the owner’s Masonic affiliation… ‘These medals are usually of silver, and some have them highly finished and ornamented, so as to be worth ten or twenty guineas. They are suspended round the neck with ribbons of various colours, and worn on their public days of meeting, at funeral processions, & c. in honour of the craft. On the reverse of these medals it is usual to put the owners coat of arms, or cypher, or any other device that the owner fancies, and some even add to the emblems other fancy things that bear analogy to Masonry.’ ” From “Material Culture of the American Freemasons” by John D. Hamilton (Lexington, MA: Museum of our National Heritage, 1994), pp. 97 and 126.

John Dean (1803-1875), whose name is engraved on this medal, was born in East Tennessee to William Dean (d.1816) and his wife Alice Woodward Dean (1779-d.c.1816). He moved to Williamson Co. by 1810 and married Eliza Andrews Dean (1802-1879) of that county in 1825. The couple would have five children together. The 1840 Federal Census recorded Dean owning seven slaves; in 1850 he owned five. Sometime around 1844 he moved his family to Primm Springs, Hickman Co., Tennessee and soon thereafter began manufacturing plug tobacco. He died in Hickman Co. in 1875 and is buried in the family cemetery in Primm Springs. See W. Jerome D. Spence and David L. Spence, “A History of Hickman County, Tennessee” (Hickman Co., TN: Southern Historical Press, 1900), p. 157.

Hiram Lodge No. 7, in Franklin, Williamson Co., Tennessee is the oldest continually operated lodge in Tennessee, chartered in 1809 (formerly been Lodge No. 55 of North Carolina). The Masonic Hall at Franklin is the oldest Masonic building in the state, its cornerstone was laid in 1825. John Dean would have been 22 years old when the cornerstone for Hiram Lodge No. 7 was laid in 1825, the same year Dean married Alice Woodward.

Credit Line:
Gift of Alvin and Davida Deutsch