The National Heritage Museum recently acquired this charming doorstop that shows an arrangement of Masonic symbols. We purchased it at auction and although it was described as a doorstop in the catalog, some Museum staff have been arguing that it seems more like a bookend. So, what do you think? Doorstop or bookend? It’s cast iron (giving it the heft that a doorstop needs) and measures 6 3/4 inches high by 4 inches wide by 2 1/4 inches deep.
While we do not know exactly when and where it was made, the doorstop adds nicely to our collection of Masonic household (or lodge) accessories. I like the bright red color, accented with white and yellow paint. And, it offers a quick primer to some of the most common Masonic symbols:
Square and Compasses with G – perhaps the most recognized Masonic symbol, the square and compasses symbolize reason and faith, while the G in the center stands for God, geometry, or both.
The trowel (at top left) spreads the cement that unites Masons in brotherly love.
The gavel (at top right) symbolizes the stonemason’s hammer used to break off rough edges of stone. In Freemasonry, this is extended to represent divesting a man's heart of vice.
The pair of columns at the bottom corners represent Jachin and Boaz – the pillars of King Solomon’s Temple, which symbolize strength and stability.
The central staircase and arch at bottom signify advancement in Masonic knowledge.
The level (at bottom left) stands for equality. It is also used for the lodge’s Senior Warden jewel (or symbol of office).
The slipper at bottom right is used in the First Degree, or Entered Apprentice. It is symbolic of consecration and the new member's assumption of obligations.
We look forward to reading about your opinion on the function of this object (or maybe your favorite symbol) in our comments!
Barbara Franco, Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts, Lexington, MA: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage, 1976.
Masonic Doorstop, late 1800s, collection of the National Heritage Museum, Museum Purchase, 2009.072. Photograph by David Bohl.