Harry Waterson published an article in the Summer 2022 issue of de Halve Maen (The Half Moon), the "Magazine of the Dutch Colonial Period in America" published by The Holland Society of New York. With permission, here's an excerpt.
The men who made
up the Holland Society of New York would have liked it better had it been called the Holland Society of New Amsterdam.
The Holland Society of New York (HSNY) was organized in 1885. On April 30th a constitution was adopted, and the next day
the Society was incorporated in the State of New York. The purpose of the Society was
to collect and preserve information
respecting the early history and settlement of New Netherland by the Dutch, and to discover, collect, and preserve all existing
documents, etc., relating to their genealogy and history.
Membership was limited to 1,000 men, all direct descendants through
the male line of a Dutchman who was a native or resident of New York or of the American colonies prior to 1675. It was 2016
before women were admitted to full membership in the Society.
On March 30, 1887, a special committee presented a badge design to the trustees. The design was based on ancient geuzenpen-ningen (
Beggars' Medal) derived from plasters procured from originals in the Museum of Antiquities of Amsterdam, Holland.
Tiffany & Co. prepared the design, and the
trustees adopted this form of the Beggars'
Badge as the insignia for the Society.
The obverse was a left-facing portrait
bust of Philip II of Spain surrounded by the
motto: EN TOUT FIDELLES AU ROY. The
reverse depicts two beggars' wallets, with
two hands clasped in the center. Between
them is the date 1566 surrounded by the
motto JUSQUES A PORTER LABESACE.
The motto is continuous from obverse to
faithful to the king, even to carrying the wallet. The edge is looped at the
top, with projecting rings left and right from
which are hung miniature porringers. A
final loop at the bottom holds a tiny gourd.
This oval silver medal, 1-inch x 3/4-inch, is
suspended from an orange ribbon attached
to a horizontal pin back header with HOLLAND SOCIETY on its face. Within a year
the header was revised to read HOLLAND
SOCIETY / OF NEW YORK. The reverse of
the header is marked TIFFANY & CO. The
whole badge is 3-inch x 1-inch. In 1897 the
silver badge was $6. It was also available in
gold for $28. Today, it is available in 14K
gold for $2,800.
The story behind this medal is that in
1566, a number of Dutch nobles petitioned
Margaret of Parma, King Philip's Regent in
the Low Countries, for religious freedom
and the end to the Inquisition. They were
willing to become beggars to accomplish
this including wearing a beggar's wallet
around their necks and using begging
bowls to live. The nobles wore this medal
around their necks. The medal committee
thought this Beggars' Medal was the most
significant medal ever struck in Holland
and considered it a fitting memorial to the
first steps toward civil and religious liberty
in which the men of the Netherlands led
the world. It was considered an appropriate
token for a member of the Holland Society
to wear in recognition of the benefits he
received from the heroic struggles of his
The Holland Society had its first annual
banquet during the first January of its existence on January 8, 1886. The Society held
its 131st annual banquet on October 30,
2021. It has invariably been the highlight
of the year for the Society. This article
focuses on a run of banquets from 1904 to
1918 when it was the practice to present
each member and guest with a souvenir of
the evening and, as it turns out, a souvenir
of the heritage of the Society.
Samuel R. Thayer (1837–1909) was the
United States ambassador to the Netherlands from 1889 to 1893. In 1891 he visited
the Royal Museum at The Hague. He discovered three medals there from the Dutch
Province of Friesland that he considered
relevant to prominent events in the history
of the United States. Thayer obtained five
sets of the medals, copied in zinc at his cost,
and donated one set each to the U.S. State
Department, the New-York Historical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society,
the Minnesota State Historical Society, and
the Holland Society of New York. From
October 1891, one set has been preserved
among the treasures of the Holland Society.
The 19th Annual Banquet of the Holland
Society featured replicas of the second
medal in the Thayer gift. They were given
to all members and guests as souvenirs. The
medal was the hit of the evening. It was
originally struck to commemorate Holland's
recognition of United States Independence.
On the obverse will be found the United
States and the Netherlands represented by
two maidens equipped for war with right
hands joined over a burning altar. The Dutch
maiden is placing an emblem of freedom
on the head of the American. Her left foot,
attached to a broken chain, rests on a tiger
which represents England. In the field of the
medal are the words: LIBERA SOROR.
In exergue SOLEMNI DECR. AGN. / 19 APR
MDCCLXXXII (A Free Sister, Acknowledged by Solemn Decree, 19 Apr. 1782).
On the reverse side is the figure of a
unicorn lying prostrate before a steep rock,
against which he has broken his horn. Over
the figure are the words: TYRANNIS VIRTUTE REPULSA. Underneath the figure
are the words: SUB GALLIAE AUSPICIIS5
(Tyranny Repelled by Valor, Under the
Auspices of France).
This medal by Johann Hotzhey is No.
603 in the Betts catalog, in silver size 28 1/2. (1&25/32nds in.) It is assumed the Holland
Society zinc example is roughly the same
size. The dinner favor is bronze and 44mm,
only 1.2mm smaller than the Betts example.
In very small lettering there is a continuous legend around both sides: MEDAL
STRUCK BY THE UNITED PROVINCES
OF THE NETHERLANDS 1782 IN HONOR
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE / PRESENTED BY THE HOLLAND SOCIETY
OF NEW YORK JANUARY 1904. The medal was struck by Bailey, Banks & Biddle of
Philadelphia. Over 400 medals were given
out on the night of the dinner. Because of
its overwhelmingly good reception, another
400 medals were struck and given to all
members who were unable to attend the
banquet. All subsequent souvenirs also
went to absentees as well.
Great history! Thanks to Harry and The Holland Society of New York for sharing this.
For more information on the Holland Society of New York, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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