By Lady Mary of Montevale
The Pennsic medallions are relative newcomers to Cooper’s Lake when you consider that they have been a part of the War only since Pennsic XVII.
Many Pennsic veterans remember the years when they received only a carbon copy of their paid fee receipt on a yellow slip of paper. When the War lasted for just Friday through Saturday of a single weekend, one might even manage not to lose it or have it get wet and disintegrate. Magistra Rosamonde of Mercia (Meridies) recalled that it was around Pennsic XV when there began to be a problem with gate crashers and attendees were told “You must keep your receipt.” This was not a well-received request in some quarters.
It may have actually been one of the Coopers who suggested the use of some sort of metal medallion on the grounds that people would be both more likely to wear something that was permanent and attractive and to keep it on them for the entire War (which by then had expanded far beyond a three-day weekend).
Keeping your past Pennsic medallions has now become a tradition. Magistra Rosamonde, who has been to every Pennsic since the 9th one (that’s a total of 32 Pennsics), wears all her old medallions on her broad-brimmed sun hat. The Pennsic XVII medallion is smaller and a bit plainer than some of the subsequent ones, with the simple black XVII being its most eye-catching element.
Some years there have been competitions for the medallion design in which anyone could submit a design for consideration. Other years, the Pennsic Autocrat (Mayor) has simply made a request for a medallion design to an artist of his or her choosing. Master Tristan Alexander said that for Pennsic XXI, the medallion was designed by the Autocrat, Duchess Sedalia MacNair, herself, because (as she admitted to him) she completely forgot all about asking someone to do it in time.
Master Tristan probably knows more than anyone else about the medallions because he is the only person to have designed more than one. The first (for Pennsix XIX) was done at the direct request of Duchess Sedalia and he has researched and created the designs for a total of eight Pennsic medallions. Most of them can be identified by the presence of a tiny set of his initials (TA) and a small feather somewhere on the medallion.
Associated with the medallion at Pennsic XX and for a few years thereafter were the T-shirts printed by Claus the Toymaker which he sold to benefit the Chirurgeon’s Fund. His were the official Pennsic T-shirts. Today there are several merchants selling souvenir Pennsic T-shirts, but none of them are official, nor do any of them make use of the current year’s medallion design. Each year the design is kept secret for security reasons until medallions are given out at starting at Land Grab.
When each year’s medallions are stamped with the design, every one also gets a unique number. The Mayor of Pennsic each year receives medallion #1 unless he or she chooses to honor someone else by giving them that particular medallion. The first hundred numbers are reserved for the event staff. A section of the highest numbers are set aside for the food vendors’ employees (often locals who live in the area of Cooper’s Lake), and the rest of us get what is in between. Once pre-registration closes, a count is made to determine how many medallions will be made that year. This year the number made after pre-registration closed, but before counting estimated walk-ins, is 12,259.
Why do you have the number you do? Does it help to pre-register in January? No, it doesn’t help. The numbers are assigned after pre-reg closes in June, using an alphabetical database of everyone who has pre-registered. If your modern last name begins with A, you will always have a very low number medallion; if your last name begins with Z… (sigh).
If you know someone who pre-registered for this year and did not come after all, you cannot pick up their medallion for them. What you can do is take a stamped envelope addressed to them over to Troll, and their medallions will be mailed after Troll closes at the end of the War.
The fate of unused medallions is uncertain. There are stories that one of the Pennsic merchants buys at least some of them to re-purpose in some way, but this has not been confirmed. The only two sure facts about unused and unclaimed lost medallions are these: there is a supply of a couple dozen unclaimed lost medallions from the last year or two at Lost & Found; and Troll admits to keeping a few old ones to give any under-5’s (who must wear wrist bracelets) who become upset because everyone else in the family has a medallion and he or she has only the plastic bracelet.
Hlafdige (Lady) Arastorm told me an incident in her family which may have led to the required use of the wrist bracelets on the youngest Pennsic attendees. It was Pennsic XVI, and she and her husband were so busy setting up the family’s tent, they did not immediately notice their 3-year-old son had wandered away from camp while wearing nothing more than a diaper. They began searching and feared the worst when his diaper was found near the old swimming hole. However, the clever young man had meanwhile remembered that popsicles were available at the Cooper’s Store and headed in that direction (sans diaper) to get himself one. Fortunately a friend of the family’s recognized the child, determined Mom was nowhere in sight and assisted Security in getting him back to the right parents in the right camp. The bracelet with its information about parents and campsite was begun the next year so that any small child found out and about on his own could quickly be returned to where he or she belonged.
Many thanks to: Magistra Rosamonde of Mercia, Master Tristan Alexander, Claus the Toymaker, Mistress Livia at Troll, Hlafdige Arastorm, and a young gentleman at Lost & Found who all provided information for this article.