« July 2013 | Main | September 2013 »

August 2013

An Exciting Recent Acquisition: Frederick Phile's Maverick Mark Medal

2013_019DP1DBHere at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, we are big fans of the personal medals and badges some Masons had made for themselves in the late 1700s and early 1800s. You may have read posts about the mark medal that belonged to Ezekiel Bascom and an associated mark book or saw the post discussing a gold Masonic medal owned in Connecticut. Although the museum counts many personal Masonic medals in its collection, we are always on the lookout for new objects to help us tell the story of American Freemasonry. A few months ago we were thrilled to add a mark medal made for Frederick Phile of Holland Mark Lodge and engraved by "Bror. Maverick" to the collection.

Frederick Phile (ca. 1740-1793) of Philadelphia likely commissioned the medal when he received the Mark Master degree at Holland Mark Lodge in New York City, sometime between 1788, when members of Holland Lodge No. 8 established Holland Mark Lodge and 1793, when Phile died. Records detailing Phile’s Masonic activity are sketchy, but he seems to have taken the Entered Apprentice degree at Lodge No. 2 (Moderns), in Philadelphia in 1760. He worked as a physician until around 1770, when he took on the duties of naval officer for the Port of Philadelphia; a position Phile held, in different capacities, on and off, until his death. During the Revolutionary War, Phile, a German-born naturalized citizen of Great Britain, served as a surgeon for a Pennsylvania battalion. Although Holland Mark Lodge drew most of its membership from Holland Lodge, occasionally out-of-town Masons, like Phile, who had not taken the Mark Master degree elsewhere would pay the fee (24 shillings in 1791) and receive the degree at Holland Mark Lodge. In 1791, for example, the lodge granted the mark degree to Masonic travelers from France and Rhode Island.

2013_019DP2DBAs part of the ritual for the Mark Master degree, the initiate chose a distinct mark or emblem. The lodge secretary noted this unique mark in his records. For his emblem Phile selected a heart over three crossed arrows. This symbol doubtless held meaning for Phile, but we have not been able to identify what this symbol might have represented. Holland Mark Lodge required that, "Every member shall furnish himself with a Mark which shall be of Silver, with the Name of the Lodge engraved thereon." As described in a research note published in the Transactions of the American Lodge of Research, from 1788 to about 1800, Holland Mark Lodge members recorded their marks with both a written description and an impression of their engraved mark in the lodge’s minute book.

Of the over thirty mark medals in the museum’s collection, only Phile’s is signed by an engraver. The "Bror Maverick" who incised his name under Phile’s on this silver disk is thought to be Peter Rushton Maverick (1755-1811), a member of both Holland Lodge and Holland Mark Lodge. Phile’s medal is one of six known that were crafted for members of Holland Mark Lodge. One, also signed by Maverick, is at the Smithsonian Institution; the museum at the Grand Lodge of England holds another and two form part of a private collection. The library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa counts Peter Rushton Maverick’s own 1789 mark medal as part of its collection. A history of Holland Lodge relates that Peter Rushton Maverick, who joined the lodge in 1789, cut a seal for Holland Lodge the year before. He also engraved maps, bookplates and Masonic certificates, among other things. The museum holds a certificate, estimated to date from around 1790, for Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 and attributed to Peter Rushton Maverick, in its archives. We are now glad to be able to include another example of Maverick’s work in our collection.

Photo credits:

Mark Medal, 1788-1793. Engraved by Peter Rushton Maverick (1755-1811), New York, New York. Museum Purchase, 2013.019. Photos by David Bohl.


Balestier, Joseph N., Historical Sketches of Holland Lodge (New York, New York: Holland Lodge No. 8, 1862), 40-41, 156

Tows, Ferrars, H., "The Holland Mark Lodge Book," Transactions of the American Lodge of Research, Vol. III, No. 2, 1939-1940, 404-5

Sesquicentennial Commemorative Volume of Holland Lodge No. 8 (New York, New York: Holland Lodge No. 8, 1938), 21-24.

Newell, Aimee E., Hilary Anderson Stelling and Catherine Compton Swanson, Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection (Boston and Lexington, Massachusetts: Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts and Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 2013), 101, 113.

Sachse, Julius F., Old Masonic Lodges of Pennsylvania "Moderns" and "Ancients" 1730-1800, (Philadelphia: Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, 1912-1913), Vol. 1, 76.

Programs for Students - Come Explore History!

Group Programs for Students 13_08_p2'Colonial Kids' fits very well with the social studies curriculum. The kids liked it a lot. They had never seen a 'horn book' before nor a 'block' of tea. The program brought to life what we studied for months.

3rd grade teacher, Lexington, MA

As summer segues into autumn, teachers are preparing for the classroom. To  support educators in their wish to enrich classroom learning with engaging history field trips, we offer three fantastic, hands-on programs that bring history to life. Each offers a through grounding in solid historical research and interactive structure. All programs are aligned to the Massachusetts Department of Education's history and social science curriculum framework. We also enjoy working with groups from independent schools, homeschool groups, and scouts. Our programs are conducted by professional staff, who know how to engage and inspire students through developmentally appropriate interpretive techniques.

Colonial Kids allows participants to explore how the children of Lexington's Brown family experienced daily life in 1773. Visiting third-graders discover that Lexington's residents had their own "tea party," days before the famous Boston Tea Party of December, 1773. They engage in critical thinking about what the concept of "protest" meant to families of the era, as well as considering how aspects of daily life - clothing, dairy production, and schooling - in the 1770s compare to their own. Kindergartners through second-graders participating in the program explore the everyday life of the Brown family, real people who lived in Lexington at the time of the American Revolution. From how they helped in the house and on the farm to what school was like, the Brown children are brought to life through an engaging narrative and plenty of objects to handle and consider. You can read about the third-grade version of the Colonial Kids program here. Here is more information about the Lexington tea-burning protest - and here, as well.

The Archeology Lab helps 4th- to 8th-graders walk in the footsteps of archeologists who study New England's colonial past. Participants clean, identify, and interpret artifacts from a fictitious Massachusetts town, discovering archeological methods as they work. Students work together to assemble clues about how the artifacts were used in the 1700s and about the people who left them behind. We have posted supplementary material to our archeology program here.

From Union Jack to Old Glory is a flexible program that introduces first through fifth-graders to the history and meaning of the Stars and Stripes. Featuring the Museum's rare and enormous 15-star flag as its centerpiece, the program employs a variety of hands-on activities, games, and challenges. Participants consider how we handle and display our national flag, as well as discover the fascinating course the development of its physical appearance and use has taken since the first years of the American Revolution to the present.

We appreciate your willingness to meet our needs. You are wonderful!

5th grade teacher, Newton, MA

We are glad to accommodare a visiting group's interests and needs. To learn more about the programs described here, our fees for student groups, and how to inquire about booking a program, refer to our Groups and Tours webpage. We are always happy to share information about these programs - drop us a line at groups@monh.org or call at 781-457-4121.

Our monthly newsletter will help keep you in touch with programs, exhibitions, and special events. You can sign up to receive it by clicking on the "Join Our E-Mailing List" icon at the museum's website.


Albert Pike's 1870 33° Ritual

Pike_33rd_page_1_webAlbert Pike (1809-1891), Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction from 1859 to 1891, revised all of the Scottish Rite degree rituals, including the 33°, during his tenure. A handsomely bound book, containing Pike's reworked version of the 33°, was presented to the Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) in 1870. This manuscript version of Pike's 33° ritual is currently on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room exhibition, Secret Scripts: Masonic and Fraternal Ritual Books, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

The inscription (see below) inside the book reads:

This Copy is most respectfully Presented to the Supreme Council of the Northern Jurisdiction of the U.S., by special permission of M∴ P∴ Albert Pike, Sov∴ Gr∴  Commander of the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, U.S., by RMCGraham, 33° Gr∴ Rep∴, New York, March 19, 1870.

Robert McCoskry Graham (1830-1890) was an Active Member of the NMJ's Supreme Council and Grand Representative from that Supreme Council to the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction (SJ) from 1867 until his death in 1890. Graham lived in New York City and was actively involved in both the SJ's and NMJ's Supreme Councils.

In June 1870, three months after Graham inscribed the Pike ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council, Albert Pike attended the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's annual meeting, held that year in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although Sovereign Grand Commanders from the NMJ and the SJ regularly attend each other's annual meetings today, Pike observed in 1870 that "It is, I think, the first time when the Grand Commander of one of our Supreme Councils has been present at a session of the other..." Although the 33° was conferred upon fourteen men at the 1870 annual meeting, the NMJ's annual Proceedings from 1870 do not indicate whether the Committee on Rituals had adopted the Pike ritual and whether that was the version of the 33° ritual that was used.

Pike_33rd_inscription_page_webThat Graham would have presented the ritual to the NMJ's Supreme Council is unsurprising. Not only was Graham the NMJ's Grand Representative to the SJ's Supreme Council, he was also close friends with Pike. Pike himself wrote the obituary for Graham that was published in the SJ's Official Bulletin. The obituary (later reprinted in Pike's collection of obituaries, Ex Corde Locutiones) is dated March 10, 1891 - less than a month before Pike's own death. Writing about Graham, Pike not only makes it clear that Graham was a friend, but that he was intimately involved with the activities of the Southern Jurisdiction's Supreme Council: "During the last ten years he had regularly been present at our sessions, feeling like one of us, and looked upon by us as one of ourselves, so much so that he sat with us in our confidential sessions, always welcomed and beloved by all."

The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction used Pike’s 33° ritual from 1870 until 1880, at which point they adopted Charles T. McClenachan’s revision of Pike’s ritual. A version of this ritual was used until 1938, when the Supreme Council approved a rewritten ritual composed by then-Sovereign Grand Commander Melvin M. Johnson. It is a version of this ritual that the NMJ's Supreme Council still uses today.

For further reading:

de Hoyos, Arturo. “On the Origins of the Prince Hall Scottish Rite Rituals,” Heredom 5 (1996): 51-67. [In this article about how the NMJ assisted in the production of the United Supreme Council (PHA)'s book of Scottish Rite rituals, de Hoyos, using primary sources in the collection of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, provides a few concise paragraphs (pp.60-61) on the development of the NMJ's 33rd degree through the nineteenth century.]


Albert Pike, Manuscript Ritual for the 33°, 1870, Washington, D.C., Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Collection, R-40.

A New Book! A Sublime Brotherhood

Sublime BrotherhoodIn honor of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's 200th anniversary the Supreme Council has published a new history book called A Sublime Brotherhood: Two Hundred Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. The much anticipated volume is now available for purchase. The 200-page lavishly illustrated work traces the history of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction from 1813 to the present. The book is divided into six chapters to tell the story of the organization, highlighting the people, structures, traditions and objects that help us understand how the NMJ began, where it has been and what it looks like today.

It is a "must-have" volume and a great souvenir of our bicentennial celebration. You can order your copy now online. The price is $33 plus shipping. They are going fast, so don't wait.

Summer Vacation through Postcards

2013_July blog post_postcardsAt our July Collections Committee, we accepted a gift of approximately 400 postcards from Michael Heitke.  Many of these postcards show images of national monuments in the United States and over half the collection are items showing images from Wisconsin, the home state of the donor.  They range in date from 1907 through 1950s.

As Americans are taking their summer vacations, it is revealing to take a look at 1950s postcards. Some of the same destinations that were popular in the 1950s are just as popular today. 

Mount Rushmore  National Monument is a typical tourist destination in South Dakota (see postcard at the left).  Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) was the artist who supervised the sculpting of Mount Rushmore and many other American public sculptures.  Borglum was an active Freemason and raised in the Howard Lodge No. 35 of New York City in 1904.  He served as its Worshipful Master from 1910 through 1911.  He received his Scottish Rite degrees in the New York City Consistory in 1907.  

Noteworthy is that among the four presidents carved into stone at Mount Rushmore, two of them were well-known Freemasons--George Washington (1732-1799) and Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and two were not.  Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was not a Freemason.  Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) petitioned to join Tyrian Lodge of Springfield, Illinois after his nomination for president in 1860, but never followed through on receiving his membership.                                      

The Dells of the Wisconsin River is a popular destination especially for Americans in the Midwest (see postcard below). Created by early glaciers, the "Jaws of the Dells" is the sandstone gateway, or corridor to the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River.  It is located in south central Wisconsin.  Access by boat is the only way to see these natural sandstone formations.  Henry Hamilton Bennett (1843-1908) was the landscape photographer who made the Wisconsin Dells a popular tourist destination by his photographs.  This postcard of the Wisconsin Dells is a 1950s reproduction from the H. H. Bennett Studio.  As far as I can tell Bennett was not involved with Freemasonry, though he lived through the "Golden Age of Fraternalism." 2013_July blog post_postcards_2


Postcard of Mount Rushmore National Monument, ca. 1950. Gift of Michael Heitke, USM 082, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library.

Postcard of Gateway to the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin River, ca. 1950. Gift of Michael Heitke, USM 082, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library.

Beginning the Next 200 Years

Repro Charter SGCs Actives ResizedIf you read our post yesterday, you know that August 5th, 2013, marked the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction,  To commemorate that event and to begin the next 200 years, the Supreme Council celebrated in New York City at the Grand Lodge of New York.  Sovereign Grand Commander John William McNaughton welcomed his counterpart from the Southern Jurisdiction, Sovereign Grand Commander Ronald Seale, as well as the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York (see the photo below), and many of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's Actives and Deputies to New York City.  During a short ceremony,Grand Master of NY with Dignitaries Resized Commander Seale presented Commander McNaughton with a reproduction of the 1813 charter (seen in the photo above).  The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library looks forward to continuing to collect material related to the past, present and future of the fraternity.


Happy 200th Anniversary N.M.J.!

5.2 SC001_018DP1DB_webToday marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Scottish Rite's Supreme Council, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, in New York City on August 5, 1813, the date of the warrant, or charter, shown above.

In 1813, the Charleston Supreme Council (today’s Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction), tasked its Grand Treasurer General, Emanuel De La Motta, to sort out which of the competing Scottish Rite bodies in New York City was legitimate. He ruled in favor of the group headed by Antoine Bideaud — stating that group members were the "legal and lawful founders of the sublime degrees." De La Motta drafted this charter, or warrant, which states that he does "hereby duly and legally form, constitute and establish" Bideaud’s group as the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s first Supreme Council on August 5, 1813. Although signed by De La Motta, the document is in the handwriting of J.J.J. Gourgas, who served De La Motta in a secretarial capacity during the formation of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction in 1813 and served as the first Grand Secretary General and third Sovereign Grand Commander for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's Supreme Council.

You can learn more about the creation of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's first Supreme Council and about the six men that comprised the Council by reading "The Northern Masonic Jurisdiction's First Supreme Council" on pages 11-15 of the May 2013 issue of The Northern Light [pdf].

The actual charter itself is currently on view in the exhibition "A Sublime Brotherhood: 200 Years of Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction" here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library in Lexington, Massachusetts.


Charter/Warrant for the Northern District of the United States of America, 1813.
Issued by Emanuel De La Motta, New York, New York. SC 001.018, Photograph by David Bohl.