A Scion Society of The Baker Street Irregulars
” … a luxurious club …”
– The Adventure of The Five Orange Pips (FIVE)
Over the years, Philadelphia’s The Sons of the Copper Beeches have met at many locations. On Friday, February 20, 1953, they met at the headquarters of the Union League of Philadelphia. The Union League dates back to December 27, 1862, when it was formed as a patriotic society supporting the policies of President Abraham Lincoln. It’s historic brick and brownstone headquarters opened a month after Lincoln’s death and was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979. Over the years, the Union League has issued many medals.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Above is a rare bronze medal presented by the Union League of Philadelphia in 1866 commemorating George Meade’s victory at Gettysburg in 1863. The obverse displays a profile bust portrait, which is surrounded by the words Presented July 4, 1866 to Major Gen’l George G. Meade by the Union League of Philadelphia as a Token of the Gratitude of his Countrymen. Paquet F. appears at lower left of portrait; the reverse depicts an allegorical scene featuring the general receiving laurels from Columbia with the text around the perimeter The Victor at Gettysburg, The Deliverer of Our State, The Faithful Soldier of Our Country, and July 1863 beneath the scene. General Meade was presented the same medal in gold, and his immediate family received silver medals. The medal has a diameter of 79.4mm and was designed by Anthony Paquet, an assistant engraver of the United States Mint.
During July – August 1866, at least another 100 examples in bronze-copper were ordered by the Union League Club as replicas of the elegant gold medal and struck at the mint from the same Paquet dies. The precise number of bronze specimens is unknown, but R.W. Julian’s Medals of the United States Mint puts the number, vaguely, at over 100 before the dies were returned to the Union League Club where they are said to still reside. Regarding rarity, Julian notes about 30 records of sales for the bronze Meade medal over the past 75 years. From contemporary sources it is evident that General Meade himself had considerable say in how the bronze Union League medals were subsequently distributed. It is known that Meade personally presented fellow Gettysburg luminary General Alexander S. Webb with his bronze medal based on the surviving transmittal letter written by Meade in November 1866 that read in part, In selecting those to whom I should distribute these medals, I know no one General who has more claims than yourself…
The Union League of Philadelphia had these silver medals struck in 1863 at the nearby United States Mint with blank reverses. These blank medals could then be engraved for presentations to high ranking military and governmental officials. This particular medal has three snipper cuts. These medals are typically found holed so they could be hung from a ribbon.
Union League Medal presented to Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy – Heritage Auctions
While similar to the just mentioned medal, this particular Union League medals features a design on the reverse that was struck by dies, rather than engraved. This particular medal was presented to the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles on September 30, 1863, in recognition of his distinguished services, along with an honorary membership in the Union League Club of Philadelphia. By clicking on the link of the caption of the medal’s picture, you can see the proclamation that went along with the medal.
The Medallic Art Company struck this 63mm bronze medal to honor President Calvin Coolidge in 1927, when he was made an honorary member of the Union League of Philadelphia. Amor Patriae Ducit translates as Love of Country Leads.
The Union League of Philadelphia, and its three associated foundations, are still issuing medals from time to time. Most recently, they presented President George W. Bush with a gold medal in 2008. You can read President Bush’s remarks after the medal presentation by clicking HERE.
When The Sons of the Copper Beeches had their one meeting at the Union League of Philadelphia, J.G. Gordon distributed copies of his “Was Sherlock Holmes A Stamp Collector” from Approaches to Philately, published in 1950 and edited by G.B. Erskine.
Thanks to Steven Rothman for providing the details regarding The Sons of the Copper Beeches history with the Union League of Philadelphia.