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June 2018

"On the Square" Tobacco

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Tobacco Pouch, 1895-1940. Probably Kentucky. Gift of Peter J. Samiec, 2018.009.2.

Chewing tobacco—also known as plug tobacco or “chaw”—was the most common way to consume the tobacco plant in the mid-to-late 1800s in the United States. American tobacco companies produced a variety of products for tobacco chew including pouches, pipes, and spittoons. A number of these sold or or offered  in the late 1800s and early 1900s used Masonic symbols and imagery on their products or as part of their brand name, including this Master Mason plug tobacco produced by the Rock City Tobacco Company in Canada

A pouch recently donated to the Museum collection advertises "on the Square" plug tobacco and features a square and compasses at center. The Courier-Journal newspaper published in Louisville, Kentucky, include simple advertisements for "On the Square" tobacco in the early 1900s.  Staff are looking for more information about the company that manufactured "On the Square" tobacco. Have you heard of “On the Square” tobacco? Let us know in the comments section below!

To learn more about other tobacco related ephemera in our collection see our previous blogs about collectible tobacco silks.

 


An Intriguing Masonic Certificate Engraved by Amos Doolittle for Henry Parmele

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Mark Master Mason Certificate Issued to William Gordon, ca. 1820. Engraved by Amos Doolittle, New Haven, Connecticut. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.1101.

On March 4, 1820, the officers of a mark master lodge, possibly Mark Master’s Lodge Gloria Mundi, signed and issued a certificate to William Gordon.  This document attested that Gordon had received the Mark Master Mason degree and that the lodge officers recommended him “to all Free and Accepted Masons on the Globe.”

This colorful certificate with its charming portrayals of a lodge master at the bottom of the page is an intriguing one.  In the early 1800s many grand lodges, such as the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, began issuing certificates for all newly made Master Masons.  Many were issued and saved.  Today they are fairly common. However, certificates for the Mark Master Mason degree in any American state in the early 1800s are rare.  This one, preserved in the collection of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, appear to be the only example in that collection and there aren't any in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library's collection.

Adding to this document’s interesting features, the information printed on the bottom edge of this certificate, which says, Engraved by Brother Amos Doolittle New Haven: for H. Parmele Diaploma of the 4th Degree. The above may be had of Br’s [scratched out] Phild. Saml Maverick New York, A. Doolittle New Haven, and I. W. Clark Albany…, suggests that production and sale of the certificate was conceived of as a coordinated effort by several entrepreneurs. 

Amos Doolittle (1754-1832), a New Haven artisan, engraved the certificate. He did so for Henry Parmele (d. 1821), an author and publisher who also sold engraved Masonic aprons. From the brief information noted on the certificate, Parmele seems to have arranged that colleagues in different parts of the country offer the certificate, or diploma, to customers.  Doolittle made the certificates available in New Haven. Samuel Maverick (1789-1845), an engraver and printer, sold them in New York City.  Israel W. Clark (ca. 1789-1828), a printer, publisher and editor in Albany, had them for sale in that city.  Parmele, according to census records, lived in Philadelphia by at least 1820, sold copies there. The scratched out name likely read “Wm McCorkle,” possibly William McCorkle (ca. 1776-1826) a Philadelphia editor and publisher.  

Given that we have found only one record of another copy of this certificate, it seems that few copies were sold--it is hard to imagine that this multi-state business venture met with success.  Adding to the mystery, research in proceedings of the Grand Chapters in the New England states, Pennsylvania and New York, has not turned up a mark lodge with the words “Gloria Mundi” in its name.  It is possible that the phrase near the top of the certificate, rather than the name of a mark lodge, is an abbreviated version of the motto “Sic transit gloria mundi(Thus passed the glory of the world), often used in Freemasonry.  Compounding the mystery, to date we have not been able to identify the recipient of the certificate—William Gordon—or any of the lodge officers who signed this certificate.

If you have seen other early 1800s mark degree certificates or have ideas about this one, we’d love to hear from you—leave us a comment below. 

Reference:

Mantle Fielding, American Engravers Upon Cooper and Steel (New York: Burt Franklin [1964]) vol. 3, 93.


Illustrated Patriotic Envelopes of the American Civil War - now on view

A1985_012_1020DSNow on view in the reading room of the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library are a selection of 32 illustrated patriotic envelopes of the American Civil War. Nearly all of the envelopes on exhibition are from a collection of over 1,000 illustrated patriotic envelopes of the American Civil War that were donated to the museum by William Caleb Loring, 33° (1925-2011). 

Following the November 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) as President of the United States, seven states in which slavery was legal individually seceded from the Union. They did so because of Lincoln’s opposition to the expansion of slavery in the western United States. A1985_012_0111DSSouth Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas declared themselves the Confederate States of America (C.S.A.), and established a capital first in Montgomery, Alabama and then in Richmond, Virginia. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina in April 1861, four more slave-holding states joined the Confederacy. The C.S.A. was never officially recognized by the United States or any foreign government. The American Civil War, fought between the Union and the Confederate South, lasted until 1865. Casualties on both sides, from death, disease, and wounds, totaled over one million.

A1985_012_0563DSShortly after the war began, publishers began printing illustrated envelopes (also known as covers) related to the war. The designs treated a variety of subjects, such as soldiers, battles, and patriotism. Publishers released 3,000-4,000 individual Union designs and no more than 160 individual Confederate designs of this form of wartime propaganda.  Americans quickly began collecting these envelopes and, as early as 1861, manufacturers marketed albums that consumers could fill with examples that they had acquired. A1985_012_0297DSSoldiers also put these envelopes to practical use, using them to mail letters home to their families. These envelopes offer an immediate view on the bold rhetoric and political passions of the American Civil War.

Illustrated Patriotic Envelopes of the American Civil War is on view in the reading room through December 1, 2018.

Captions:

Top left:
“USA,” 1861-1865
Published by Car Bell
Hartford, Connecticut
A85/012/1020

Top right:
“Remember Fort Sumter!,” 1861-1865
A85/012/0111

Bottom left:
“Traitor. Patriot,” 1861-1865
Engraved by Carpenter & Allen
Boston, Massachusetts
A85/012/0563

Bottom right:
“Haines’ Envelope Holder,” 1861
Published by J.M. Whittemore & Co.
Boston, Massachusetts
A85/012/0297

 

 


Annin & Smith, Masonic Certificate Engravers

In 1801 the bylaws of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts specified that Master Masons be provided with a “diploma, printed on parchment, with a device emblematical of, and suited to, the Genius and Design of Masonry….” As described in this regulation, the document would also mention that the holder’s lodge had been authorized by the Grand Lodge and would bear the signatures of the Master Mason, his lodge’s officers and the Grand Secretary. This diploma, when presented at another lodge, helped prove the holder was a Mason in good standing—a brother entitled to a warm welcome, hospitality and, in some cases, charity. 

From surviving examples dated after 1801, it appears that Boston artisan Samuel Hill (c. 1765-c. 1809) engraved a version of the diploma outlined in the 1801 bylaws. His design featured allegorial  figures, representing faith, hope, and charity, surrounding a globe resting on a plinth. On the globe, the details about the Master Mason and signatures of lodge officers were filled in.  The Grand Secretary attested to the lodge’s status on lines printed for that purpose on the face of the plinth. 

Lodge No 28 J R Smith
Master Mason certificate issued to Richard Colton, Harmony Lodge (Northfield, Massachusetts), 1815. Designed and engraved by John Reubens Smith (1775-1849), Boston, Massachusetts, 1812. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, MA 007.

By 1811, a committee of the Grand Lodge “were of the opinion” that the distribution of new diplomas “requires some new regulations.” The following year the Grand Secretary noted that the engraved plate from which the certificates were printed was “so worn that fair and legible impressions could no longer be taken from it.”  At the same meeting a committee was appointed to “order such repairs on the plate…, or procure a new engraving, as they may deem expedient….” That year an English artist working in Boston, John Reubens Smith (1775-1849), engraved a fresh plate  (pictured at left) based on Hill’s earlier design. 

Only five years later, in 1816, another committee recommended that the diploma plate be repaired or a new one ordered.  In 1817 this committee developed a “new form for a Master’s Diploma.”  The Grand Lodge approved the form and gave permission for the committee to have it “engraved and made ready for use.” To undertake the engraving work, the Grand Lodge turned to the partners, George Girdler Smith (1795-1878) and William B. Annin (1791-1839). The pair likely met as fellow apprentices with the Boston engraver Abel Bowen (1790-1850). They went into business together around 1816.  John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841), a Boston artist, designed the new diploma with an artist identified only as Mills.

In 1819 both Annin and Smith received their Masonic degrees in Boston; Smith at Columbian Lodge, Annin at The Massachusetts Lodge. Smith became an active Mason, both holding offices at the blue lodges he belonged to and at the Grand Lodge. As partners, Annin and Smith engraved certificates for many organizations: the Grand Chapter of Massachusetts, fire companies, missionary societies and other associations.  They also produced illustrations and maps for numerous publications. The pair dissolved their partnership around 1833. Annin died by suicide six years later.

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Master Mason certificate issued to Walton Felch, Fayette Lodge (Charlton, Massachusetts), 1825. Designed by John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841) and Mills (dates unknown), engraved by William B. Annin (1791-1839) and George Girdler Smith (1795-1878), Boston, Massachusetts, ca. 1819. Collection of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.2546.

Based on signed and dated surviving examples, the Grand Lodge began using Annin and Smith’s diploma in 1819. After his partnership with Annin ended, it appears Smith retained the plate for the diploma and produced copies for the Grand Lodge as requested.  In 1857, prompted by a query about a bill from the Grand Lodge, Smith described his long-standing arrangement with the organization: “The Master Mason’s Diploma belonging to the Gd Lodge of Mass. was to the best of my recollection, engraved about the year 1820.  The price of Diplomas was then I believe 75 cts., including parchment of course….”  Annin and Smith's engraving enjoyed a long run as the Grand Lodge's diploma. The Grand Lodge issued it to new Master Masons through the 1850s.

For more examples of Masonic certificates and diplomas, see the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives Digital Collections website.

 

 References:

Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1792-1815 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Caustic-Claflin Company, 1905) 193, 415, 504, 529.

Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1815-1825 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Caustic-Claflin Company) 58-59, 74-75, 126.

 Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1856-1864 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Caustic-Claflin Company) 71, 100-103.