Amos Doolittle

Another Masonic Certificate by Doolittle and Parmele

GL2004_8765a_DS1 - Copy
Master Mason Certificate, ca. 1818-1821. Issued to Charles Otis Nye, Moriah Lodge No. 195, DeRuyter, New York, Engraved by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832), New Haven, Connecticut, Published by Henry Parmele (d. 1821), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.8765.

A few months ago, we posted about a certificate for the mark degree engraved by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832) that was published by Henry Parmele (d. 1821) and, previously, about an apron engraved from the plate the Parmele used for another certificate.

Though many aspects of Parmele’s biography are, as yet, unknown, the engraved and printed material he produced speaks to his interest in selling material to the Masonic community.  Along with the certificate for the mark degree and the Royal Arch apron, Parmele also produced at least two certificates for the Royal Arch, a Masonic handbook called Key to the First Chart of the Masonic Mirror that was meant to be used in conjunction with an engraved Masonic chart and a Master Mason certificate.

Parmele’s Master Mason certificate (at left) shared an inspiration with or was based on certificates used and produced in Massachusetts in the early

GL2004_8765a_DS2
Reverse, Master Mason Certificate, ca. 1818-1821.Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.8765.

1800s.  You can see an example of one of these earlier certificates in this past post.  As was the case with Parmele and Doolittle’s mark degree certificate, Parmele, who census-takers recorded as living in Philadelphia in 1820, worked with printers and engravers in different East Coast cities to retail his certificate.  A line engraved at the bottom of this document (see below, at left) notes that it was sold by G. Fairman in Philadelphia, A. Doolittle in New Haven, Samuel Maverick in New York and by I. W. Clark in Albany.  Gideon Fairman, Doolittle and Maverick were all engravers.  Israel W. Clark was a publisher, printer and editor.  The note also identifies all the men as “Brothrs,”or Freemasons.

Interestingly, this certificate does not seem to have been given to a Master Mason.  Though a name, Charles Nye Otis, and lodge, Moriah Lodge No.  120 (recorded as No. 195) of De Rutyer, New York, are written in ink on the front of the certificate, a handwritten note on the back of the document (at right) shows that Parmele used it as an example of his work.  In a note signed “H. P,” (initials thought to stand for Henry Parmele), the writer discussed how he provided this certificate, or diploma, as a sample.  He also thanks the unknown recipient of the note for his “influence in obtaining subscribers” for another publication, Parmele’s Masonic charts.  Parmele planned to publish two charts to go with his Key, which came out in 1819, but likely only issued one before he died in 1821.  From the wording of Parmele’s note, it is difficult to tell if the recipient had already helped Parmele gain subscribers or if Parmele just wanted to let the recipient know that any help in the future would be appreciated.  This certificate offers some tantalizing clues about how publishers and engravers undertook their business in the early 1800s at the same time it prompts questions about their endeavors.

Reference: 

Kent Logan Walgren, Freemasonry, Anti-Masonry and Illuminism in the United States: 1734-1850: a Bibliography (Worcester, Massachusetts: American Antiquarian Society, 2003).

GL2004_8765a_DS1 - detail of signature
Detail, Master Mason Certificate, ca. 1818-1821.Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, GL2004.8765.

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.


New to the Collection: A Royal Arch Apron

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Masonic Royal Arch Apron, ca. 1820, Henry Parmele, probably Connecticut, Museum purchase, 2014.115.4. Photograph by David Bohl.

With over 400 Masonic and fraternal aprons in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection, we can be choosy when we add to our holdings.  But we are always intrigued when an apron with a different style or decoration shows up.  This was the case with this one, which we purchased at auction last fall.  The engraved design was new to us and we were very excited to add it to the collection.  The central archway with the ark of the covenant, columns, drapes and the figures in the center and to the sides all relate to the ritual for the Royal Arch degree.  The (originally) red trim also helps identify this apron as one that would have been worn to Royal Arch chapter meetings.  Unfortunately, the history of this apron has been lost and we do not know who originally owned it.  It also does not have any markings identifying the engraver or the printer.

Many engraved designs used on aprons were also used on certificates.  As far as we know, we do not have a copy of this certificate – yet.  But, our friends at the Henry Wilson Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry in San Francisco do have a copy of a certificate decorated with this engraving.  That certificate does have some information about the publisher and sellers.  Printed along the bottom of the certificate is “Pub[lishe]d by H. Parmele.  To be had of [Comp[anion]s?] S. Maverick N. York A. Doolittle New Haven and J.W. Clark Albany.”  Presumably the apron was printed from the same plate, or at least a plate engraved by the same person who cut the plate for the certificate.

Printer and publisher Henry Parmele (ca. 1781-1821) was active in Connecticut.  He reportedly came up with the idea of an illustrative Masonic chart of symbols before Jeremy L. Cross’s (1783-1860) The True Masonic Chart, or Hieroglyphic Monitor (1819), but Cross beat Parmele to the press and his book, with its groundbreaking illustrations, was available first.  Cross’s book became a best-seller and Parmele’s chart languished.

The other men named on the certificate were all active engravers in their respective locations.  Doolittle worked with Cross on the illustrations for his The True Masonic Chart.  Maverick (b. 1789), Doolittle (1754-1832) and Clark (dates unknown) inevitably both engraved and sold Masonic certificates, along with many other types of documents.

To learn more about our apron collection, see our new book, The Badge of a Freemason: Masonic Aprons from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, available June 2015 at www.scottishritenmj.org/shop.  Members of the Museum & Library or of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction can pre-order the book now (April 2015) through May 31 at a discounted price, by mailing this form with a check.


A Masonic Cash Box

90_3T1 This unusual cash box, which the National Heritage Museum purchased for its collection in 1990, is a favorite with several staff members. So it comes as no surprise that it is currently on view in our exhibition, Curators’ Choice: Favorites from the Collection.

The inlay work draws the eye around the entire box. On first glance, you may think that it is inlaid with ivory, but it was actually made using sulfur! The preference for this material seems to have been localized to German woodworkers in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area during the early and mid-1800s. Despite the unpleasant smell of the sulfur, these craftsmen seem to have enjoyed the speed and ease of completing the inlay this way. Initially, the sulfur dried into a yellow color, which has lightened to its current ivory shade over the decades.  Our box is helpfully dated to 1861 (along with the Masonic date of 2395), although it is not signed by its maker.

The box's maker melted the sulfur and poured it into the wooden sections while in a liquid state. Once it hardened, he polished it and, in this case, it was decorated with pen and ink. The delicate illustrations are copied from the sixteenth edition (1851) of The True Masonic Chart, or Hieroglyphic Monitor by Jeremy L. Cross (1783-1861). Cross first published his book, with illustrations engraved by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832), in 1819 after witnessing the “improper classification” of Masonic symbols at degree lectures. Cross soon became America’s leading Masonic lecturer, and his book became a best-selling and influential source of Masonic symbolism. 90_3T2

The box has a tray inside with spaces fitted for coins and bank notes, suggesting that it was used as a cash box by the Treasurer of a Masonic lodge or Royal Arch chapter. Do you know of other examples of household accessories made using sulfur inlay? If so, let us know in a comment below!

Masonic Cash Box, 1861, Pennsylvania, National Heritage Museum Special Acquisitions Fund, 90.3a-b. Photographs by David Bohl.


Use Our 'Learning Blog' in the Classroom to Bring Patriots' Day to Life

Patriots' Day is a special holiday in Massachusetts. Because it is marked by public celebrations unique to each Massachusetts town, children grow up eagerly attending or even participating in parades and historic reenactments that commemorate the beginnings of the American Revolution. Through these, they become familiar with events and people that are tied to landscapes right outside their front doors. The Museum’s other blog, "Learning at the National Heritage Museum", highlights primary sources and provides lessons that can be used in the classroom or at home to help learners of all ages gain a deeper understanding of the familiar historic events that we celebrate on Patriots' Day.

Doolittle battle With the material on the 'Learning Blog', rooted in the "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution" exhibition, visitors can reconstruct the feelings and experiences that must have flooded the thoughts of the citizens of Lexington as Regular troops equal in number to the 800 people who lived in Lexington  marched up to the Common in the early morning of April 19th. Why did seventy-seven members of Lexington's militia decide to assemble and confront the King's troops? Click on the links that follow to access the Learning Blog and find out.

The Massachusetts provincial court archives provide us with a window to glimpse what kind of community Lexington was before 1775. The town seems to have been an

unlikely home for revolutionaries, with very little crime of any kind. In this peaceable community, however, provincial politics filled the meetinghouse, both at town meeting and through the sermons of Jonas Clarke. One vivid example is the Lexington Tea Party of Dec. 13, 1773. Three days before the Boston Tea Party, Lexington's selectmen resolved to boycott imported tea, newly taxed by Parliamentary Act, and, in reaction to the King's policy, "be ready to Sacrifice our Estate, and everything dear in life, yea and Life itself, in Support of the common cause." These strong words reveal the passion and resolve that took symbolic form in a winter bonfire on the town common, onto which the people of Lexington threw all their tea. This act of protest was reported on approvingly by the widely-read Worcester newspaper, The Massachusetts Spy.

Green and white teapot 91_025-12a-bT1 The drama of Lexington's political actions unfolded against the backdrop of how the series of taxes levied on vital goods imported from England affected the people of Lexington. Both the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765 made goods that people used virtually every day more expensive . Although the public mood of the town never turned riotous, as it did in Boston, the primary sources and activities on the Learning Blog show how citizens gradually developed the resolve to resist, and finally to rebel.

After more than ten years of buildup, the tensions caused by this fundamental conflict between Massachusetts colonists and their rulers exploded into a bloody confrontation, the Battle of Lexington and Concord. If we can fathom the "Why?" behind the first shots in the American Revolution, it becomes that much more engaging to delve into the "Who?", "What?", "Where?" and "When?" of that day. We can imagine how the chain of events on April 18th and 19th, 1775, might have been experienced by the children of Lexington families. While they watched their fathers and older brothers assemble with the town militia, the towns for miles around were filled with similar scenes of preparation for defense against the King's soldiers. The militiamen of Massachusetts and their families were not the only people anxiously peering at the horizon, straining to see what the day would bring - the Regular troops marching down the road towards Concord and their commanders surely also felt an unsettling sense of foreboding as they traveled further into the hostile countryside. Were any of them aware that the road would take them through the heart of Lexington, a community convinced that the sacrifice of life itself, in support of the common cause, might very well be the culmination of the town's resistance against the long series injustices meted out by the representatives of London?

There is much more to explore on the Learning Blog- we welcome your comments and questions! For information about in-house programs for school groups, please contact the Museum's Education Department (email: croche@monh.org; phone: 781 457-4142).

“The Battle of Lexington,” 1775, Amos Doolittle (1754-1832) - engraver, Ralph Earl (1751-1801) - painter, New Haven, Connecticut

Courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut

 

Teapot, ca. 1765, England

National Heritage Museum, 91.025.12a-b


Baron von Steuben's Regulations

Revolutionary Army officers created a very succinct creed at Verplanck's Point, N.Y. in 1782 where they paid homage to those they felt most deserving of credit for the Army's success.  Naturally, they included George Washington, Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox -- and Friedrich Steuben:

"...We believe that Baron Steuben has made us soldiers, and that he is capable of forming the whole world into a solid column, and displaying it from the center. We believe in his Blue Book...."

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben (1730-1794) was born and raised in Prussia.  He received his early military experience in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) but by the 1770's was in search of another war.  Twice he approached Benjamin Franklin in Paris for assistance to go to America, and the second time he was successful in getting a letter of introduction to General Washington.  Steuben sailed to America and arrived in Portsmouth, N.H. on December 1, 1777; by February he was in Pennsylvania, and by March he had the Continental army in Valley Forge learning how to drill, something sorely missing in the early months of the army.  Washington was so impressed that he wrote to Congress in late April:  "I should do injustice if I were to be longer silent with regard to the merits of Baron von Steuben.  His knowledge of his profession, added to the zeal..."  Washington recommended and Congress approved Steuben be promoted to Inspector General but with the rank and pay of Major General, a situation that pleased Steuben. 

Stuben_1794 In The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army, author Paul Lockhart concentrates on how Steuben went about getting the army ready for battle, the relentless drilling, and the many campaigns that followed.  But as Steuben's charge was to bring overall discipline and order to the troops, during the winter of 1778-79 he spent more time writing than drilling.  Steuben improved earlier attempts at a military manual and produced Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States (a copy of the title page of our Library's 1794 edition appears at left).  First published in Philadelphia in March 1779 with 150 pages and 8 plates, the initial printing produced over 1500 copies with blue covers (and thus it was known as the 'Blue Book').   It went on to have some seventy editions and to remain an indispensable manual for American soldiers until the War of 1812. The 'Blue Book' has even enjoyed several revivals, most recently during the Bicentennial of 1976, as it provided useful information for re-enactors. 

While early editions of the Regulations were quickly snapped up, an even larger market was created in 1792 when Congress passed the Militia Act.  As state militias began to appear, Steuben's manual filled the need for soldiers requiring instructions on everything from drilling to fighting in battle to setting up camp. The original manual usually was printed together with a more specific state manual.  

Our library is fortunate to have two copies of Steuben's Regulations, one published in Boston in 1793, and the other in 1794.  The latter was printed by Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) and the plates engraved and signed by Amos Doolittle (1754-1832).  Donald C. O'Brien in Amos Doolittle: Engraver of the New Republic explains that, like many printers, Thomas quickly got into the business of printing the manuals after the Militia Act and likely hired Doolittle to do the engravings because his usual engraver, Joseph H. Seymour, was too busy with other jobs. 

As one of Doolittle's plates below shows, the drawings were simple.  The accompanying information was more detailed, however, clearly providing instructions for all aspects of military life from marching (e.g. the Common Step "is two feet and about seventy-five in a minute" while the Quick Step "is about one hundred and twenty in a minute") to the correct motion for taking aim and firing.

Stuben_1794_ad2 Plate VII (shown at left) details the correct Order of Encampment.  Accompanying instructions state:  The infantry will on all occasions encamp by battalions, as they are formed in order of battle.

The front of the camp will occupy the same extent of ground as the troops when formed; and the intervals between the battalions will be twenty paces, with an addition of eight paces for every piece of cannon a battalion may have.  The quarter-master of each regiment shall be answerable that he demands no more  ground than is necessary for the number of men he has actually with the regiment, allowing two feet for each file, exclusive of the officers, and adding sixteen feet for the intervals between the platoons.  He is also to be answerable that no more tents are to be pitched than are absolutely necessary, allowing one tent for the non-commissioned officers of each company, and one for every six men, including the drums and fifes.

And finally, both of our copies of the Regulations have signatures and notes in contemporary hand Stuben_1794_smith from previous owners, and the 1794 copy, in particular, may demonstrate that the Regulations were in use until the War of 1812.  There is good evidence that Capt. Wm. R. Smith (signature shown in the image at right) is William Rogers Smith (1774-1818) the only surviving son of a landowning Baltimore County family who would have had the needed financial resources to be a member of the Baltimore Blues, an outfit that fought during the War of 1812.

Additional information on Baron von Steuben may be found at websites of both the Society of the Cincinnati (an organization he helped found), and the Steuben Society of America.  Many memorials exist for Steuben, most notably statues in Washington, D.C., Valley Forge, Monmouth County, N.J., and Potsdam, Germany.

Sources consulted and mentioned above:

Lockhart, Paul.  The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army.  New York: HarperCollins, 2008.  Call number:  E 207 .S8 L63 2008

O'Brien, Donald C.  Amos Doolittle: Engraver of the New Republic.  New Castle, DE:  Oak Knoll Press, 2008.  Call number:  Call number: NE 955.2 .O27 2008

Riling, Joseph R.  Baron von Steuben and his Regulations.  Philadelphia:  Riling Arms Books Co., 1966.

Steuben, Frederick William.  Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.  Boston:  Printed and sold by John W. Folson, Union Street.  Sold also by John Norman, Newbury Street, 1793. Call number:  RARE UB 501 1793  Gift of the J. Collier Family. 

Steuben, Frederick William.  Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, to which are added the United States Militia Act passed in Congress, May 1792, and the Militia Act of Massachusetts, Passed June 22, 1793.  A new edition illustrated by eight copperplates, accurately engraved.  Boston:  [Printed by I. Thomas and E.T. Andrews] For David West, No. 36, Marlborough Street and John West, No. 75, Cornhill, 1794.  Call number:  RARE UB 501 1794

Von Zemenszky, Edith.  The Papers of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, 1777-1794 : guide and index to the microfilm edition.  Millwood, N.Y. : Kraus International Publications, 1984.

Many thanks to Librarian Francis P. O'Neill at the Maryland Historical Society for information on William Rogers Smith.