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    Description

    Early American Politics: Silver Tammany Society Membership Badge. This 68 mm. (2.75") slightly convex silver badge has an engraved image of a coiled rattlesnake and the inscription: "Beware. Where Liberty dwells, there is my Country Octr. 12th 1492." The coiled snake matches the one depicted on the "Don't Trade on Me" flags used by American troops in the Revolutionary War. Christopher Columbus discovered the New World on October 12, 1492. Our research uncovered two examples of this badge along with an attribution indicating it was worn by members of the Sons of St. Tammany (a.k.a., the Society of St. Tammany or the Columbian Order). Founded in New York in 1789, the order was a precursor to the first opposition political party, the Democratic-Republicans, founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison around 1792. They may also have been inspired by some of the clubs formed in Paris during the French Revolution of 1789. One of their most famous members was Aaron Burr. They had a nativist hue and exulted in "pure Americans". Named after the Lenape Chief Tamanend, they met in halls designated as "wigwams". Members were "braves" and their elected leaders "sachems". Despite their myopic views, they eventually aligned themselves with Irish immigrants and leaders. Despite some false starts, they came to dominate New York City politics until the 1930's. On January 11, 1790, they passed an act authorizing the manufacture and issuance of membership badges incorporating the design and slogans seen on our example. The New York Historical Society owns a specimen which was purchased by the donor from Guthman Americana of Westport, Connecticut in 1982. Another example, also sourced from the noted military specialist, was sold by Bonham's in 2006 for $14,000. Our example has what appears to be the original pair of attachment loops on the verso and is demonstrably superior to the Bonham's example. vis-a-vis, quality of workmanship. It also is the only example of the three that retains the original attachments. It is in lovely condition with a bluish-orange patina. Based on the style of the engraving, we would date it from the early 1790's. We assume it may have been worn in the manner of a gorget, threaded through an Indian-style necklace of rawhide or beads.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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