Anybody Help me decipher the origins of this medal?
June 28, 2011 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Which fraternal organization or group is identified with the letters C and K?

So I am selling a ton of my friend's memorabilia on Ebay and trying not to muck up the self-link rules here.

I have a three part pin that is a medal for what I am assuming is a fraternal organization.

It is early 20th century or maybe 1890s and is in three sections.

The top section has a banner with a crowned cross in a ring above it.
The middle section says "89 Milwaukee" with some detail around it.
The lower section is divided into thirds triangularly with a "C" in the first third, an image of the holy family in the second third, and a "K" in the last third.

I was assuming that this was a Knights of Columbus Medal of some kind even though the C and K are reversed in order.

But I have gotten two kind of cryptic emails saying that it is either "Knights Templar" or "Masonic". But I also know the world is just wacky for secret society stuff, so thought I would bring it here.

I have put the Ebay link to the thing in my profile. Anybody help me out here?
posted by Tchad to Grab Bag (19 answers total)
Looks like Knights of Columbus to me. Is there anything on the back?
posted by orrnyereg at 10:05 AM on June 28, 2011

Knights of Columbus?
posted by fso at 10:06 AM on June 28, 2011

Response by poster: The only thing on the back is the manufacturer info. It was made by a firm that did lots of stuff like this for fraternal orgs.

I went ahead and listed it as Knights of Columbus, but two people have sent me Knights Templar stuff. I wasn't sure what to think about that.
posted by Tchad at 10:10 AM on June 28, 2011

can i see the listing...
posted by fozzie33 at 10:12 AM on June 28, 2011

Response by poster: It is in my profile, fozzie. The first line in the text field.

I was thinking that, given the tone of my friend's upbringing (working class conservative Polish Catholic in Milwaukee), Occam's razor says Knights of Columbus.
posted by Tchad at 10:13 AM on June 28, 2011

Listing is the OP's profile.

I'm leaning towards that not being Knights of Columbus, there is nothing even remotely similar to it and their logo and I can't imagine why they would swap the C and the K.
posted by royalsong at 10:18 AM on June 28, 2011

I did a little detective work. One of the sponsors of the 2010 Polish Fest in Milwaukee was the Catholic Knights, which I gather was a fraternal aid organization (it looks to have been bought out by Catholic Family Insurance).

So that's my revised guess: Catholic Knights.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2011

I'm looking at a 1909 listing of fraternal orders and benevolent societies, and under the National Fraternal Congress they have a listing for Catholic Knights of America -- a fairly familiar name to me. Could that be it? It's more of a life insurance thing now, but like many societies has been both an organization and more of a business.

Here's some basic info; looks like the timing is about right.

This site says CK stands for Catholic Knights.

Also, I would love to be a member of the Independent Order of Panamanian Kangaroos, organized in 1907.
posted by Madamina at 10:25 AM on June 28, 2011

I also don't think it's from a Knights of Columbus event -- none of the standard KofC imagery is there and the K and C are in the wrong order. I've been frantically googling to see what sort of 1889 event honoring "Christ the King" it might be from, but no luck so far...
posted by Ranucci at 10:26 AM on June 28, 2011

Also from that second link, you may wish to use the term "exonumia" -- collectible trinkets and such that are LIKE coins, but NOT coins.
posted by Madamina at 10:28 AM on June 28, 2011

The crown & cross look similar to the Knights Templar logo, but in KT, the cross is almost always slanted. I've never seen it straight up & down like this. The image looks like the Holy Saints John to me
posted by mattbucher at 10:29 AM on June 28, 2011

{posted too soon} "89 Milwaukee" could refer to a Grand Encampment or Conclave held in 1889, but I can't find anything definite on that. Here are some other images of the Saints John.
posted by mattbucher at 10:34 AM on June 28, 2011

Can someone please just post a link to the listing? The OP's profile link is incorrectly formatted and 404s.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:07 AM on June 28, 2011

Are you clicking on his name, DarlingBri? I don't have any problems on firefox.

Link as requested.
posted by royalsong at 11:10 AM on June 28, 2011

The lower section that is divided triangularly into thirds is actually a big "W".

Catholic Knights of Wisconsin? I believe it's listed in Madamina's link.
posted by orrnyereg at 11:18 AM on June 28, 2011

Response by poster: OK. I think I am going to pull the auction in a bit and re-write the copy.

You guys really are the best. If anybody has any more info, keep it coming.

My brain was so cloudy when I listed it last night that I just went with what I thought was right.

posted by Tchad at 11:21 AM on June 28, 2011

More about the Catholic Knights of Wisconsin, a fraternal benefits organization, can be found at its successor organization, Catholic Financial Life.

I had a feeling this was a Catholic fraternal object based on the image of the Holy Family being part of this; that didn't strike me as something that is part of Masonic imagery.

Somebody good get a good FPP about the history of ethnic/denominational-based fraternal benefit societies in the U.S., how they were formed in the 1800s, which ones still exist, which ones have expanded their membership criteria beyond their original focus, the role in small-town Central Texas culture of Saturday night dances at the KJT/KJZT, etc...
posted by Ranucci at 2:21 PM on June 28, 2011

It's not conclusive, but this link states that "The religious faith of the family is that of the Catholic church and Mr. Kornely is treasurer of the Branch No. 89 of the Catholic Knights of Wisconsin, of which he became a charter member at Milwaukee." I'd suggest that the "89" and "Milwaukee" on the pin refer to the specific local branch of the organization.
posted by dpaul at 2:31 PM on June 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just to re-enforce what others have said, I would confirm for you that this is not a Masonic or Masonic Templar item.

I look at a lot of Masonic regalia and collectibles. This isn't one of ours.
posted by driley at 2:45 PM on June 28, 2011

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