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December 2014

Raise a glass to the season! Happy Holidays from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

Happy Holidays from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library!  At this celebratory time of year, thoughts turn to festive beverages of all types.  The next time you visit the Museum, you may want to take a look at some of the special vessels we have on display in “Prized Relics:  Historic Souvenirs from the Collection.”

Covered CupMany years ago this wooden cup (pictured at left) held festive beverages made with alcohol, sugar and spices mixed to share on special occasions.  Originally, this vessel likely had a bowl adorning the handle on the middle of the lid, as well as small cups—made from the same material as the large cup—arranged on small pegs set into the lid.  You can see a similar example here.  Celebrants filled their small individual cups from the large shared standing cup.  Although quite stylish in its day, this type of wooden vessel eventually fell out of fashion. Even when it was out of date, worn and missing pieces, this cup was saved. The cup’s association with Pieter von Stoutenburg (1613-1689/9), a prominent resident of New Amsterdam, likely contributed to its preservation.

Members of Grecian Lodge of Lawrence, Massachusetts, made this blue and white punch bowl (pictured at right) part Grecian Lodge punch bowlof their ceremonial occasions from the 1890s into the twentieth century.  Age and damage eventually rendered the bowl too fragile to be used, but it was preserved at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as a tangible part of Grecian Lodge’s history. 

A member of Saint Paul Lodge in Groton, Massachusetts, John Walton (1770-1862) of Pepperell, Massachusetts, gave this huge decorated pitcher (pictured below) to his lodge (a staff favorite, you can read more about it here). A lodge history suggested that members may have used the pitcher to fuel toasts “that Records tell us were frequently drank.”  Decades later, Walton’s gift served as a striking table decoration at special events. In the 1850s, the elderly Walton attended selected lodge ceremonies, where his brothers feted him as an original member and living link to the lodge’s founding in the late 1700s.  Walton also presented the silver ladles displayed in the same case to Saint Paul Lodge. Unlike the pitcher, which Walton purchased new, these ladles—old-fashioned in style by the time Walton presented them—may have belonged to Walton before he gave them to his lodge. Crafted by well-known Mason and  Walton pitcher and ladles in gallerysilversmith Paul Revere (1734-1818) and connected to the lodge’s early history, the lodge valued these ladles as “unique and notable” treasures in later years.   

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, we wish you all the best from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

Photo credits: 

All pictured in “Prized Relics:  Historic Souvenirs from the Collection.”

Covered Cup, 1600s.  Possibly Netherlands.  Gift of Mr. Lawrence B. Hunt, 77.73a-b.

Punch Bowl, 1893-ca. 1900. Maddocks Lamberton Works (1893-1924), Trenton, New Jersey. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.7703.

Pitcher, 1802.  Wedgwood, Staffordshire, England.  Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.10165.

Ladles, 1760-1780. Paul Revere (1734-1818), Boston, Massachusetts.  Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.1869 and 2088.


A Conversation with Alison Malone: “Let your eyes tell the story of who you are”

Alison Malone colorIn 2007 photographer Alison Malone embarked on a project of taking portraits of present-day Job’s Daughters and their meeting places. Familiar with the group as a former member, Malone had found the experience to be intense as a child, yet increasingly fascinating to consider as an adult. With her photographs, Malone and her subjects—working together—offer an insider’s view of a modern Masonic youth organization. "The Daughters of Job: Photographs by Alison Malone" will be on display at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library from December 13, 2014, through December 12, 2015.  We sat down to talk with Malone about her project earlier this month.  

Over time, what have you learned from this project?

AM:  So many things—this project confirmed my feeling that in the present day when much social interaction is not face to face, girls were drawn to actual physical meetings.  They derive so much joy from being more than Facebook friends.  They call each other sister.  I believe the group will persevere because of the girls’ desire to meet and know each other.  They have also told me that in meetings you learn to take ownership of what you say when you are all together.

What has surprised you about this project?

AM: That the girls exist in a duality.  They rigorously follow ritual and take pride in their ritual work. But at the same time, they do pranks—they shorted the sheets on my bed—act goofy and are silly.  They are able to be both responsible and behave like girls. 

What do you hope to achieve by having the Daughters of Job photographs on display at the Museum?

AM: I set out to describe a place and time in the organization.  I hope that, for the girls, it is a validating moment.  I also hope that other girls will see it and that the project will raise awareness and help people understand what Freemasonry is about, including the sense of community and the moral structure. I really want people, both inside and outside the Masonic family, to see how the girls add intention to the spaces they create for their ritual.  I took clean photographs of the spaces, to help show the pride they take in their spaces.   

How are the girls you photographed involved in the process of your taking their portrait?

AM: With the girls that choose to be involved in the project, I work with them in a quiet space.  Before we start, I explain the project.  We discuss that this kind of photograph is not posed and is not a performance. I show them examples of portraits taken of men and talk about the history of portraiture, explaining the idea that, in the past, having a portrait made was a rare occasion.  I ask them, how do you want to be remembered?  As brave, confident, strong?  I love watching them think about this powerful thought.  I also tell them to let your eyes tell the story of who you are.  I want them to be willing to bring the experience of who they are at that place and age.  I love finding the moment when they become more than what is expected of them.

In working on this project Malone shot with Fuji film using medium format cameras with 6" x7”  film for the portraits and large format cameras with 4" x 5” film  for the architecture.  To produce the prints, she created high resolution drum scans of all of the negatives to make large format archival ink jet prints of the final product.


Photo credit:  Alison Malone.  Photograph by Rik Sferra.

Drawing a Fraternal Identity


While “Masonic” is in our name and we often focus on American Masonic history, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library also actively collects, studies and presents fraternal history – stories, objects and people associated with the history of non-Masonic fraternal organizations, like the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. 

At its center, this drawing shows an arrangement of symbols used in Odd Fellows rituals.  Unfortunately, we do not know who the artist or original owner of the drawing was.  “Boquet Valley Lodge No. 681” is written along the top, so presumably the drawing was produced by or for a member of the lodge, or for the lodge itself.  Boquet Valley Lodge No. 681 met in Wadhams, New York, a hamlet, or unincorporated settlement, located along the Boquet River in the Adirondack Mountains, near Westport.  By the end of 1920, Boquet Valley Lodge counted 73 members, although other details about its history and activities are proving elusive.

Originally founded in England in 1745, the American branch of the Odd Fellows was organized in Baltimore in 1819 by Thomas Wildey (1782-1861).  The group took several cues from Freemasonry – they share a three-degree structure for initiation, although the specific rituals are different.  They also share some symbols, like the all-seeing eye, winged hourglass and the scales of justice on the drawing.  However, the three-link chain with the initials “FLT” (for Friendship, Love and Truth), also seen on the drawing, is a symbol unique to the Odd Fellows.

This drawing could have been framed and hung on the wall at the lodge or in a member’s home.  In a home, it would serve to identify the owner as a member, and in a home or a lodge, it would help members to learn and remember the lessons taught during ritual work.  To see examples of similar Masonic drawings, visit our current [December 2014] exhibition, “Every Variety of Painting for Lodges”: Decorated Furniture, Paintings and Ritual Objects from the Collection, which features over fifty paintings, aprons, furniture and other decorative and illustrated items, exploring the ways that Freemasons have expressed their involvement with the fraternity.  Visit our website for more information and leave us a comment below if you have seen similar drawings or know more about Boquet Lodge No. 681!

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Drawing, 1875-1900, Wadhams, New York, Special Acquisitions Fund, 82.3.1

Holiday Family Fun: HUB Trains at the Museum!

Jacob1We look forward to hosting the HO-scale model trains and displays of the HUB Division of the Northeastern Region of the National Model Railroad Association here at the museum on the weekend of December 13 and 14. For over a decade, the hobbyists of the HUB Division have joined us to kick off the holiday season.

Bring the family for Model Train Weekend: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday, December 13, 2014 and 12 noon to 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 14, 2014. Admission: $7 per family (non-members); $5 per family (museum or HUB members); $5 per individual.

IMG_3739_smallOur partner for this annual weekend event, the HUB Division, is a venerable club of over 50 years of age. It exists to promote and support the model railroading hobby and offers activities and education for members and the general public in all aspects of model railroading. HUB Division members present workshops on how to make trees, paint model freight cars to make them appear weathered, use rock molds and geodesic foam to create rock formations, and the art of construction and "scenicking" a diorama. Hours of patient work and years of skill development flow into the displays we enjoy each December.

As the history of the the club suggests, HO-scale model trains have been around for many years. The first model trains were twice the size of HO models, too large for hobbyists to set up at home. German firms of the 1920s offered the first home-scale model trains, followed by English models in the 1930s. Americans enthusiasts grew in large numbers in the 1950s, when the twin goals of attention to detail and realism of setting captured the imagination of new hobbyists. Today, HO-scale remains the most popular model train scale in North America and continental Europe. MMK_9207_cropped&compressedModel trains of this type are 1/87th the size of a real train out in the train yard. An HO-scale freight car easily fits into the palm of an adult's hand. HO-scale trains, buildings and scenics are big enough to for hobbyists to easily add detailing that creates realistic railroading layouts. 

For further information about model train weekend, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or at programs@monh.org. For information about the museum visit www.monh.org.

February vacation is right around the corner. Come visit the museum with family and friends:

NTRAK Model Train Show

Saturday, Feb. 14, 10 AM – 4:30 PM and Sunday, Feb. 15, Noon – 4 PM

Join the Northeast NTRAK Modular Railroad Club for a February vacation weekend of fun. Proceeds will benefit both organizations. Admission: $5/individual; $5/family (members of either organization); $7/family (non-members).

Pieces of the Past – Telling Stories with Historic Relics

Wednesday, February 18, 2 PM

Bring family and friends to explore the fascinating stories behind the historic souvenirs in our exhibition. We will start with an exploration of the “Prized Relics: Historic Souvenirs from the Collection” gallery, where we will see pieces of the past saved by heroes and history fans. Then, participants can work together on hands-on activities that engage the imagination. Appropriate for ages 8 through adult. $6/family (members); $9/family (non-members). No registration is necessary for this approximately 1.5 hour program.