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March 2016

Workshop: “Up Close and Personal with…Masonic Aprons”

Aimee E. Newell, Director of CollectionsSaturday, April 9, 2016

10 AM-12 Noon

Aimee E. Newell, Director of Collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

Fee: $15/members; $20/non-members. Register by April 7 by emailing programs@monh.org or online at www.monh.org.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library holds over 400 Masonic aprons in its collection. This symbol of a Freemason is widely recognized and can communicate a lot about a man’s Masonic career. This is especially true of the historic aprons in our collection. These bespoke works of art include many Masonic symbols and often represent collaboration between a Mason and the maker of his apron, often a non-Mason or a woman.

On April 9, Aimee, E. Newell, Director of Collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, will offer a unique opportunity to get “up close and personal” with these historic aprons. Participants in this workshop will examine the materials, construction and design of several aprons. Drawing on research from her book, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Newell will discuss what is known about the aprons, their stories and the unanswered questions that remain.

 

Master Mason Apron
Master Mason Apron, 1846-1862, A. Sisco Regalia Company, Baltimore, Maryland, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.125. Photograph by David Bohl.

Many of the aprons are a mix of materials; often made of leather, linen or silk, the aprons are then decorated with embroidery, ink or paint and include sequins or bullion edging. Newell will discuss how to preserve these aprons and tell participants how best to care for textiles in their own personal collections.

After the workshop, be sure to tour the new exhibition, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Collection. With over 50 aprons on view ranging from the late 1700s through the 1900s, the information from the workshop will provide a new appreciation of these unique objects.


Play Ball! A Masonic Baseball Jersey

2015_055DP1DBWith calls of “play ball” starting the 2016 baseball season this coming Sunday, it seemed right to focus our blog post this week on a Masonic baseball jersey that we recently added to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection. The short-sleeved shirt is off-white with dark pinstripes and bears the team name across the chest, “Ionic.”  What made this an exciting find for us is the blue patch on one sleeve with a square and compasses symbol and a G in the center.  This jersey seems to have been worn by a member of a team in a Masonic baseball league during the late 1910s or early 1920s.

“A Masonic baseball league?” you might ask, “how many of those could there have been?” Turns out, there were several, so we don’t know where this shirt was originally worn.  Initially, we thought that the jersey might have been used by the Ionic team that played in Detroit during the 1910s and 1920s.  Newspaper accounts from 1917 through 1921 trace the league’s games and frequently reference the Ionic team, who were the 1918 champions.  But we haven’t been able to conclusively link this shirt to the Detroit league yet.  There was also a league active in western New York during the 1930s, although we do not have a complete list of team names.  And, Duluth, Minnesota, Freemasons organized an “indoor baseball league” in 1914, which was active into the 1920s.  Newspaper articles confirm that this league had an Ionic Lodge team, but a March 1922 article about their playoff contest refers to them as “the Red and Gray squad,” suggesting their team colors do not match this jersey. Baseball Ticket

Other items in our collection also tell us that “Masonic” baseball games took place in New Jersey. This ticket (at right), from our Archives, admitted the bearer to a game on June 24, 1911, between Irvington’s Franklin Lodge No. 10 and Newark’s Oriental Lodge No. 51.  And, a photo in our collection (below) from October 1935 documents an “All-Star Masonic Game” that was played in Trenton between National League and American League players.  The teams were made up of professional baseball players who were also Freemasons.  It seems to have been a fundraising event put on by Trenton’s Tall Cedars of Lebanon Forest No. 4.

Our Ionic shirt has a label stitched inside telling us that it was made by Thomas E. Wilson and Company in Chicago. However, a few years before this shirt was made, in 1909 and 1910, consecutive Grand Masters of Illinois ruled that a group of baseball clubs with all-Masonic players “cannot use the name “Masonic Baseball League” or any other name in which Mason or Masonic appears” in the jurisdiction.  While creating the league and playing the games was not banned, it was felt that “it would not do for lodges to vote funds for the entertainment and amusement of a few members, who desire to engage in something foreign to Masonry.” 90_42T1

Histories of Thomas E. Wilson and Company (known today as Wilson Sporting Goods Company) help us to date this jersey between 1916 and 1925, when it was using the particular label in this shirt, and the Thomas E. Wilson and Company name. Thomas E. Wilson (1868-1958), who was born in Canada and came to Chicago in 1877, joined that city’s Mizpah Lodge No. 768 in 1894.  Do you have any documents or objects associated with a Masonic baseball league?  Do you know where this jersey might have been used?  Leave us a comment below!

Masonic Ionic Baseball Jersey, 1916-1925, Thomas E. Wilson and Company, Chicago, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.055. Photograph by David Bohl.

Ticket, 1911, unidentified maker, New Jersey, gift of Grant Romer, A87/010/1.

All-Star Masonic Baseball Game. 1935, Moyer, Trenton, New Jersey, gift of Donald Randall, 90.42.

 


"The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Collection" Now Open

Installation 3-17-16
"The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Collection," on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library through March 25, 2017.

Visitors have commented on the striking image at the entrance to our newest exhibition “The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Collection.” The exhibition will be on view through March 25, 2017. This image of an arch, the letter G, a mosaic pavement, three candlesticks and an open Bible with a square and compasses was taken from an engraved Master Mason’s apron made in the United States between 1815 and 1830.  This apron is pictured below. Images of columns from the same apron also ornament the walls in the exhibition. You can learn more about this apron, as well as other aprons on view in the exhibition, in The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library by Aimee E. Newell, the Museum’s Director of Collections. 

Reproduced at over thirteen times its original size, the image clearly shows some of the intriguing details visitors can see on aprons in the exhibition. These details include finely delineated engravings of Masonic symbols, glittering gold paint highlighting elements of the design and hand-inked details. 

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Master Mason Apron, 1815-1830, United States. Gift of Armen Amerigian, 90.19.15. Photograph by David Bohl.

The exhibition features over 50 Masonic aprons dating from the 1700s through the 1900s as well as related artifacts from the Museum’s rich collection, such as tracing boards, books, regalia catalogs, prints and photographs. Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to learn about the history, symbolism and workmanship behind Masonic aprons as well as the intriguing stories of the people who made and wore them. 

Interested in deepening your knowledge of historic aprons?  Be sure to read some of our recent posts about aprons. You can also attend gallery talks in the exhibition. For an in-depth look, order your own copy of The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, published by the Museum & Library. It is available for $39.95 plus shipping and tax (if applicable) at www.scottishritenmj.org/shop.  The book is also on sale at the Museum.

 


More than Meets the Eye: Masonic Ball Watch Fob

2015_019DP1DbThe Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently added a silver Masonic ball fob to the collection. These types of fobs, also referred to as golden globe and cross fobs, are actually comprised of six small pyramids that form a small ball. The ball fob makes the shape of a cross when open. Twenty-four different Masonic symbols including the square and compasses, skull and crossbones, sprig of acacia, and six-pointed star (or seal of Solomon), are engraved on the pyramid faces.

Decorative watch fobs were extremely popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s and customarily worn with the watch chains attached to pocket watches. They ranged in size from 11/64" to 1" in diameter. There are four types of Masonic ball watch fobs: German, Old English, New English, and Scottish. All four types are similar in shape and size but differ in how the ball opens and how the clasps attach to the ball.

The fob se2015_019DP2DBen here is an example of an Old English ball which has four "claw-like" clasps on the sides with a small pin on the inside of each clasp.  Do you own another example of a ball watch fob? Let us know with a comment below or email Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator, at ylaxton[@]srmml.org.

 

 

Captions: 

Masonic ball watch fob, late 1800s, unidentified maker, probably England, Gift of the Supreme Council, 33º, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, USA, 2015.019. Photographs by David Bohl.

References:C. Clark Julius, Masonic timepieces, rings, balls & watch fobs, Pennsylvania: The Printing Express Inc., 1983.


Lecture: “Making and Marketing Furniture in Massachusetts, 1790-1820”

Brock JobeSaturday, March 19, 2016

2 PM

Lecture by Brock Jobe, Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts, Winterthur Museum


In this lecture at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, noted decorative arts historian Brock Jobe will recount the little-known story of the transformation of the furniture making trade in federal period Massachusetts. In Colonial America, furniture makers were craftsmen who utilized the apprentice system to fill specific orders from their customers. After the Revolution these craftsmen began to develop business strategies that promoted their products to a range of customers. This led to standardized production of furniture.


Using the example of a cabinetmaker in Sutton, Massachusetts, who was working during the early 1800s, Professor Jobe will discuss how these changes in business strategies altered the face of furniture making in Massachusetts. Eventually these changes led to a furniture making industry that ranked among the largest in the country.


Professor Jobe has authored multiple books on furniture making in New England. He has worked as a museum curator, administrator and professor at Winterthur Museum in Delaware. Professor Jobe has received the President’s Award from Old Sturbridge Village and the Award of Merit from the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America.


This lecture is made possible by the generous support of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation and is the third of five talks in the 2016 lecture series, "Enterprise and Craft in the Young Nation".


A Violation of Our Principles: Political Discussion within Walls of the Lodge

One of the central rules adopted by many fraternal societies is the prohibition of political discussion within the walls of the lodge. Freemasonry adheres to this prohibition, as does the International Organisation of Good Templars (IOGT), the fraternity highlighted in this letter from the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

A2015_122_DS1  

Utica Oct 27th 1871

E. S. Hughes Esq.
Dear Bro.

It having come to my knowledge that Bro. Lewis H. Babcock the Democratic candidate for Dist. Attorney has been visiting the several Lodges of our order in the county for the purpose of soliciting the votes of Temperance men. I deem it my duty to caution Lodges against allowing themselves to be drawn into any political controversy as Lodges.

At the same time, I would state the facts as they are in relation to the candidates for district atty for the information of such voters of our order as are unacquainted with them. Lewis H. Babcock, the Democratic nominee, and Capt. D. C. Stoddard, the Republican nominee, are both members of Utica Central Lodge, No. 240, and have been for 3 or 4 years. During that time, Bro. Babcock has repeatedly violated his obligation

[Page 2]

and has been disciplined therefor. It is only since his nomination that he has returned to the Lodge. Bro. Stoddard has maintained his standing from the first and is known as a consistent and persistent Temperance Man. Good Templars should consider these facts and judge accordingly.

This circular is not intended to be read in Lodge but is for the information of members outside the Lodge room.


Fraternally Yours,

C. D. Rose
County Chief Templar

A2015_122_DS2
Letter from C. D. Rose to E. S. Hughes, 1871 November 27.

​The IOGT, a temperance society which still exists today, was begun by a “few printer boys” or apprentices in Utica, New York, during the winter of 1850-1851. Research into this letter reveals that the author was most likely Corydon D. Rose of Utica. Rose worked as a printer, and Federal Census records for 1870 reveal that he worked for the Temperance Patriot, the official newspaper of the Grand Lodge of the Order of Good Templars of the State of New York, and may have served as an editor. While Rose cautions his recipient, E. S. Hughes, about political discussion taking place within the walls of the lodge, amusingly, he holds no such reservation about such discussions taking place “outside of the Lodge room” and proceeds to provide “the facts” regarding the candidates’ temperance reputation.

As for who won the district attorney’s race of 1871, Henry Cookingham reports in his History of Oneida County that Rose’s choice, David C. Stoddard, a Temperance man and a Freemason, would go on to carry Oneida county by a majority of 845 votes over Lewis H. Babcock, who was also a Freemason.



Captions

Letter and envelope from C. D. Rose to E. S. Hughes, 1871 November 27. Museum Purchase. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, FR 430.002.

References

Ancestry.com (2011). U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995: Boyd’s Business Directory of Utica, Rome, Sherburne, Norwich, and Intermediate Villages, 1871-72. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Accessed: 25 February 2016.

Ancestry.com (2009). 1870 United States Federal Census. Provo, Utah, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc. Accessed: 25 February 2016.

Chase, Simeon B. (1876). “Section 74.” In A Digest of the Laws, Decisions, Rules and Usages of the Independent Order of Good Templars with a Brief Treatise on Parliamentary Practice. (pp. 236). Philadelphia: Garrigues Brothers.

Cookinham, Henry J.(1912). History of Oneida County, New York: from 1700 to the Present Time. (Vol. 1) Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=oMspAQAAMAAJ&q

Durant, Samuel (1878). History of Oneida County, New York: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia, PA: Everts and Fariss.
https://archive.org/details/cu31924100210974

Grand Lodge of New York (1875). “Charges of a Free Mason: Charge VI: 2.” In Constitution and Statutes, Rules of Order and Code of Procedure of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. New York: Thomas Holman.

Heinmiller, Gary L. (2010). “Craft Masonry in Oneida County, New York.” Onondaga and Oswego Masonic District Historical Society. Accessed: 25 February 2016. http://www.omdhs.syracusemasons.com/sites/default/files/history/Craft%20Masonry%20in%20Oneida%20County.pdf

Stevens, Albert C. (1907). Independent Order of Good Templars. In Cyclopædia of Fraternities. (pp. 404 - 406). New York: E. B. Treat and Company. https://archive.org/stream/cyclopdiaoffra00stevrich/cyclopdiaoffra00stevrich_djvu.txt

Wager, Daniel Elbridge (1896). “David Curtis Stoddard.” In Our County and Its People: A Descriptive Work on Oneida County, New York. (pp. 74 – 77). [Boston, MA]: Boston History Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=ss44AQAAMAAJ&dq


Lecture: “In the Neatest Manner at the Shortest Notice: Collaborating on Masonic Aprons”

Master Mason Apron
Master Mason Apron, 1846-1862, A. Sisco Regalia Company, Baltimore, Maryland, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.125. Photograph by David Bohl.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2 PM

Lecture and book signing by Aimee E. Newell, Ph.D., Director of Collections at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

A Mason’s apron is one of the most recognizable symbols of Freemasonry. Aprons from the early 1800s were often works of art which reflected a tangible connection between a member and his experience as a Mason. These detailed and symbolically decorated aprons reflect the collaboration between a Mason and the craftsman or woman who created it.

In her lecture Aimee E. Newell, Director of Collections and author of book The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library will discuss the relationships that produced many early-1800s Masonic aprons. Using examples from the Museum’s collection, Dr. Newell will discuss how each apron represented a unique collaboration between Mason and maker. One example is a painted apron made in the 1820s in Salem, Massachusetts. Maker Nathan Lakeman and client Charles Peabody were fellow Jordan Lodge members suggesting a shared understanding of the symbolism depicted on the apron. Aimee E. Newell, Ph.D.

Newell will also discuss the role of female makers in apron construction. Although barred from membership, women were not absent from the temple; they employed a working knowledge of Masonic symbolism to create aprons. Like many other craftsmen of the era, these women utilized their skills to serve a growing Masonic clientele.

Dr. Newell is pleased to offer a book signing after her lecture.

This lecture is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation and is the first of four talks in the 2016 lecture series, “Enterprise and Craft in the Young Nation.”


New to the Collection: Fraternal Needlework Mottoes

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Independent Order of Odd Fellows Motto, 1860-1900, unidentified maker, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.036. Photograph by David Bohl.

Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library added the needlework picture on the left to its collection.  Stitched on brown perforated paper in a tent stitch (commonly used in needlepoint, the thread or yarn is stitched diagonally, making a slant), it bears the motto “Friendship, Love and Truth” along with several symbols related to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  Originally formed in England in the 1740s, the Odd Fellows are a fraternal organization for men.  The group’s founders looked to Freemasonry (formalized in London in 1717) as a model for their fraternity.  Like Freemasonry, the Odd Fellows perform degree rituals using a symbolic language, wear aprons and pursue fellowship and charity, among other activities.

Needlework mottoes like this one were especially popular for home decoration during the late 1800s.  The perforated paper mimicked woven fabrics and allowed the stitcher to create designs quickly using the simple tent and cross stitches.  The front of this needlework is quite faded, suggesting that it hung in a sunny area of the owner's home for many years.  The photo on the right shows the back of the picture, which was covered while it hung on the wall.  As this photo shows, the original colors were very bright.  It helps to demonstrate the fading and damage that prolonged sunlight can cause for textiles.

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The back shows the original colors. Photograph by David Bohl.

Shortly before we acquired the Odd Fellows motto shown above last year, we also added the motto at the bottom to our collection.  Initially, because of the all-seeing eye and the square and compasses symbols, the dealer offered it to us as a “Masonic picture.”  However, the lettering, which reads “Honesty, Industry and Sobriety,” identifies it as an Order of United American Mechanics motto.  Patterns for these mottoes came in many designs, including ones targeted to members of American fraternal groups.  Like the Odd Fellows, the Order of United American Mechanics also took inspiration from Freemasonry when establishing itself.  This is evident from the symbols on this motto.

The Order of United American Mechanics was founded in 1845 as a nativist anti-immigration organization.  One of its objectives was to help its native-born members find employment.  Given its focus on labor, the square and compasses emblem used by the OUAM usually has an arm in the center wielding a hammer, although that part of the symbol is not included on this motto.

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Order of United American Mechanics Motto, 1860-1900, unidentified maker, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchase, 2015.018. Photograph by David Bohl.