This tray's colorful design features a central Masonic square and compasses motif. The colors are vibrant, but the texture seems unusual – not paint or ink. Several of the tray’s motifs were made using butterfly wings. The wings form the background and the small beach scenes at the corners. The design is supplemented with black and gold elements that are reverse-painted on the glass that covers the bottom of the tray.
While at first glance this object might seem unusual, butterfly wing collectibles have been sold as travel souvenirs for decades. Jewelry, trays and framed pictures were popular, not just with Masonic symbols, but also with scenic views and figures in traditional costumes. Another butterfly wing picture in the National Heritage Museum collection is marked “Rio de Janeiro,” suggesting both its probable place of origin and its function as a travel keepsake.
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Masonic Tray, 1930-1960. National Heritage Museum, gift of Robert and Edith Zucker, 2008.021.24. Photograph by David Bohl.