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eMedals-United States. A Legion of Honor Membership Badge in Gold, c.1890

Item: EG939

United States. A Legion of Honor Membership Badge in Gold, c.1890



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United States. A Legion of Honor Membership Badge in Gold, c.1890

In Gold with red, white and blue enamels, weighing 6.4 grams, hallmarked on the pin, 37.5 mm (w) x 36.3 mm (h), horizontal pinback, fine chipping evident in the red enamels on the arm at 10 o'clock, light contact on the reverse, near extremely fine.

Footnote: The American Legion of Honor was a fraternal benefit order that was active in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In its heyday, it was one of the best known benefit societies. The organization was founded on December 18, 1878 in Boston, Massachusetts by Dr. Darius Wilson and nine others. Some of the founders had participated in the founding of the Royal Arcanum and Dr. Wilson was also connected with the Knights of Honor and was reportedly a members of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Membership was open to men and women eighteen to fifty years of age. Originally the upper age limit was sixty-four, but this was reduced in 1885. There were initiation ceremonies but, if the candidate objected, these could be dispensed with and a formal obligation could be taken at any time and place. The order had a three tier structure: local units were called ""Subordinate Councils""; above them were the ""Grand"" or ""State Councils""; representatives of the latter and all living Past Supreme Commanders made up the ""Supreme Council"". The order issued certificates of $1000, $2000 or $3000 each, at their option, and those certificates carried a ""graduate weekly benefit."" The Legion reached its membership high point at the end of 1889 with 62,457. Like many fraternal organizations, the Legion ran into financial difficulties in 1895 and 1896. These were caused by a number of factors, including the Panic of 1896, an increased death rate, increased expenses and debts, ""unusually high"" assessments in 1896 and a lack of new members. The total membership on December 31, 1895 was 53,210 and for December 31, 1896 36,028. Like many fraternal orders of its time, the American Legion of Honor was based on inadequate rates that eventually led to bankruptcy. While the organization was successful in the early years, as the mortality of its membership increased, the order could no longer pay promised benefits as fewer people joined and others withdrew. (This phenomenon is known in insurance jargon as ""adverse selection"", as sicker persons retain their memberships and younger, healthier persons fail to join in adequate numbers to offset the claims paid out). In 1903, for instance, only fifty-one members joined, bringing in $755,000, however 2,004 members either died or withdrew taking over $3 million dollars with them. The order went into receivership in August 1904.


This offering is a part of the "Dr. Albert Goodwin Collection", a preeminent assemblage of world Orders, Medals, and Decorations composed solely by Dr.Goodwin between 1946-1967. Dr. Goodwin had a successful career as an educator and prominent physician in New York as well as actively serving in both World Wars with the United States Medical Corps. He acted as both President and Vice-President of the Orders and Medals Society of America (OMSA) and is responsible for organizing their first convention in 1960. He maintained further membership with the American Society of Military Collectors, the International Orders Research Society, and the American Numismatic Society. His knowledge and passion for history and awards is evident in this meticulously compiled collection that is now available in its entirety for the first time exclusively on

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