BrianRxm Coin Stories 5/15
Berkeley California Masonic Penny
RAM Lodge Convention, San Francisco, April 18, 1906
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The Coin:
 
Masonic Penny Berkeley
1. Masonic Penny Berkeley California RAM Chapter 92
 
Bronze, 30mm, 9.15gm
 
Obverse:
University of California Greek Theatre
BERKELEY CHAPTER No. 92 R.A.M.
CALIFORNIA
 
Reverse:
CHARTERED APRIL 18, 1906
ONE PENNY
HTWSSTKS emblem ("Hiram of Tyre, Widow's Son, Sent To King Solomon")
The Story:
 
The RAM (Royal Arch Masons) are a specialized Masonic lodge, and most make these tokens for members.
 
I was curious about the date on the token, April 18, 1906, and found an old book about the
1906 California State Royal Arch Masons convention.
 
The book had a long title:
Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of California at its
Fifty-Second Annual Convocation
Held at the Masonic Temple, City of San Francisco Tuesday, April 17, A. D. 1906
And terminated on Wednesday, April 18, A. D. 1906

 
The Berkeley RAM chapter was founded in 1905, but the charter date was set as the
second and last day of the convention, April 18, 1906.
 
The convention was a business meeting and not a "secret" lodge meeting.
 
The first day of the convention proceeded normally.
 
The second day...
 
(Written by William A. Davies, the Grand Secretary of the Grand Chapter, who lived in Alameda)
 
It is the unexpected that always happens; certainly so far as the events of April 18, 1906,
in San Francisco are considered.
 
The unexpected announced itself at 5:13 a. m., as the drowsiness was passing at the
conclusion of the night's rest.
The earthquake and its horrors have been too often described for repetition here.
 
It passed, and, after a somewhat hurried breakfast, the undersigned commenced that
never-to-be-forgotten circumambulation, with the Masonic Temple as the objective point.
 
With no street cars running, the only resource was an express wagon to the Creek Route boat,
(a ferry from Alameda to San Francisco) and after an anxious passage we were landed,
although far north of the boat's accustomed slip.
 
By this time, 10:30, the fires were burning in a hundred localities; a Santa Fe train of cars
was burning on the Belt Railroad, within five hundred yards of the Ferry Building.
 
Our only chance to reach the Temple was by going around the line of fire, north or south.
 
Taking the southern route, we pressed forward, reaching Valencia street before pressing
west to Laguna; thence north to Geary street; down Geary to the Starr King Building,
where our offices were located.
 
It was then 2:30 p. m., and by that time martial law had been virtually declared;
lines formed, guards stationed, and all access to Masonic Temple prohibited.
 
The San Francisco Masonic Temple was built in 1861 and was located at Post and
Montgomery streets.
 
Some of the other officers did make it to the Masonic Temple meeting at 10:00am and held a
short meeting, until they were asked to leave by the military, as the building was
heavily damaged.
 
The Masonic Temple was destroyed in the fire which followed the earthquake.
 
The convention members held a short meeting at the Starr King building at 1:30pm which
the secretary missed, then the military authorities asked them to vacate that building as
nearby buildings were burning.
 
The Berkeley RAM chapter closed in April 1968 and merged with the Oakland RAM chapter,
probably due to declining membership.
 
This United States Double Eagle was minted in San Francisco in 1906:
 
United States $20 1906-S
2. United States $20 1906-S
 
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