In Freemasonry, corn or grain, wine, and oil symbolize prosperity, health, and peace. They are considered a Freemason’s “wages” or “wages of nourishment” and are featured in Masonic degrees. Masons often use corn, wine, and oil in building consecration ceremonies. The grain, wine, and oil pictured here are housed in a wooden box. The box was made in Jerusalem. It is accompanied by a card of authentication from the U.S. Consulate. The printed card, dated January 19, 1887, is signed by U.S. Consul Henry Gillman (1833-1915) and reads “I certify that the wine and oil forwarded to John Worthington Esq. U.S. Consul at Malta were made in Jerusalem, that the wheat was raised here, and that the leather bottles are such as used here and were made in this country. The wine is known as Jerusalem wine and is seven years old.”
In the late 1800s, souvenirs from the Holy Land--an area important to many faiths that encompasses the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea--enjoyed great popularity. Affluent Americans, taking advantage of steamship travel and few restrictions on foreign travel, embarked on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. These tourists went in search of adventure and to claim both spiritual and physical pieces of the Holy Land for themselves.
The construction of Solomon’s Temple is central to Masonic ritual. Some Freemasons who traveled to the Holy Land collected stones or
other objects from sacred sites and boxed them up for their own personal collections or as gifts for their home lodges. One such Mason, Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith (1800-1879) of Boston, broke off a piece of white limestone from Mount Moriah on an 1851 trip to Jerusalem and later presented it to Hammatt Lodge in Boston, of which he was a founding member. According to an inscription engraved on the box’s lid, Smith believed the stone to be part of the “foundation stones on which stood the renowned Temple of Solomon.”
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