I came across a four foot tall sign in the museum collection identified as an electrified signet when I was researching the Rainbow Girls, a Masonic youth group. I was curious about the name, since signets are most often associated with rings or personal seals that were used to authenticate documents. I further investigated the history of these types of signs and found the term signet used primarily by the Order of the Eastern Star and the Rainbow Girls to describe their respective emblems.
Fraternal regalia companies like M.C. Lilley and C.E. Ward manufactured and sold electrified signs, or signets, like this one (pictured to the left), beginning in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These signs used to provide instruction during ritual ceremonies. The different colors and symbols in this particular Rainbow Girls sign could be lit up when the concepts were introduced or revealed during instruction. In 2012, Frank W. Thompson Lodge A.F & A.M. in Bedford, Massachusetts, donated this Rainbow Girls signet to the Museum. The pictured hanging control box operated the sign.
The Rainbow Girls sign is similar to this Order of the Eastern Star electrified signet (pictured to the right) donated to the Museum by Social Summit Lodge #50, in Canaan, New Hampshire, in 2011.
A 1938 C.E. Ward catalog featured a similar Eastern Star signet for $143. In several different O.E.S. supply catalogs, the electrified signet is described as “a real addition to any chapter room” and “easily operated and unexcelled for rendering the Ritualistic work in the most beautiful and impressive manner.”
To learn more about the Rainbow Girls or Order of the Eastern Star visit our past blog posts here.
Mark Tabbert, American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities. Lexington, Massachusetts: National Heritage Museum, 2005.