Masonic and fraternal history

Andrew P. Gilkey: Treasurer of his Lodge

2008_038_16DS1 Andrew P. Gilkey
Andrew P. Gilkey, 1860-1870. Probably Maine. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.16.

Sometimes even a small clue can lead to information about an object or image in the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library. This photographic portrait shows a man wearing Masonic regalia, standing on a patterned floor in front of a plain background, with one hand resting on a stylish side chair. Along with an apron, he wears an interestingly shaped sash (which may have actually been a separate collar and sash that appear as one piece in this image), and an officer’s jewel suspended from a ribbon around his neck. His jewel is in the shape of two crossed keys. In Freemasonry, this symbol indicates the lodge office of Treasurer. To add pizazz to the image, an artist painted the sash blue and gold and added gold to the apron and jewel. This special treatment enhances the simple portrait and draws attention to the sitter’s regalia. An inscription on the back of this photograph, produced in the pocket-sized carte-de-visite format popular in the 1860s, records the name of the sitter, Andrew P. Gilkey, along with the information that he was the “Treasurer Royal Arch Masons.” This inscription offers valuable clues about the subject of the portrait.

Census takers recorded a man named Andrew P. Gilkey (1809-1890). This man was a resident of Islesborough, Maine, from 1840 through 1880. An 1876 business directory listed Gilkey as a carpenter and builder in the same community—an island town in Penobscot Bay. Membership records at the Grand Lodge of Maine show that Andrew P. Gilkey received his degrees at Island Lodge No. 89 in Islesborough in 1857. From 1860 through 1870, the Grand Lodge noted that Gilkey served as Treasurer of his lodge. A notice in the Portland newspaper confirms that he held this office in 1870.

Although the inscription on the back of the photograph suggests Gilkey was a Royal Arch Freemason, his name does not appear in the Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Maine as the treasurer of a chapter during the 1860s. As well, the apron he wears in this portrait features symbols related to Craft, rather than Royal Arch, Freemasonry. It is possible that the inscription on the back of the photograph noted the name and office of the sitter but misstated his connection with Royal Arch Masonry.

Married twice, Gilkey outlived both of his wives and four of his children. His grave marker, near those of family, bears his name, his age at his death, and a symbol of Freemasonry, a square and compasses with the letter G, emphasizing his long-time association with the fraternity.  

References: 

“Masonic,” Daily Eastern Argus (Portland, ME), March 15, 1870, [3].

Maine Business Directory(Boston, MA: Briggs & Co., 1876), 63.

John Pendleton Farrow, History of Islesborough, Maine (Bangor, ME: Thomas W. Burr, 1893), 212-213.


Quilted Celebrations of Masonic and Fraternal Activity

2011_059DP1DBThe Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library received the Masonic quilt at left as a recent gift.  It was made in 1981 and helps us bring our fraternal quilt collection closer to the present, allowing us to compare and contrast this quilt with others from the 1800s and early 1900s (see these previous blog posts!).  Anyone who quilted or sewed during the late 1970s and early 1980s may recognize some of the fabrics if you look at them closely.  We loved the story that the donor told about this quilt's history.  His aunt, a lieutenant commander and nurse in the U.S. Navy, made this bed covering for him on the occasion of his installation as Master of Crescent Lodge in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for the second time.  Edith Bowen, the quilt's maker, bought a book about Masonic symbols here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library to help her design the quilt, which includes appliqued squares and compasses, cornucopias, a lyre and other recognizable symbols.

Shortly after we received this Masonic quilt, we were also given the fraternal quilt at right.  Made in 1989, it shows the symbol of the Pythian Sisters, a female auxiliary of the Knights of Pythias (for more on this group, see our posts), which was formed after the Civil War.  This quilt was a gift, honoring the accomplishments and volunteer efforts of one Pythian Sisters member, on the occasion of the group's centennial. 2011_066_4DP1DB

Have you made any Masonic or fraternal quilts?  Have you received one?  If so, we'd love to hear about it in a comment below.

Masonic quilt, 1981, Edith M. Bowen, United States.  Gift of Stephen J. Twining, 2011.059.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Pythian Sisters quilt, 1989, unidentified maker, United States.  Gift of the Estate of Geraldine M. Worley, 2011.066.4.  Photograph by David Bohl.

 


Odd Fellows Props: David's Harp

2016.021 AutoharpRecently, a generous donor presented this autoharp (at left) to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library for our collection. The donor was intrigued by the label visible inside that mentions the Masonic Temple in Chicago, Illinois.  The reference to the Masonic Temple on the label relates to the location of the autoharp’s retailer rather than any implied Masonic ritual use.

A “Pianoette” like this one was first patented in 1916. For more on its development, see this website.  As the label indicates, Samuel C. Osborn was selling these instruments for $25 apiece.  While these were produced and sold for general musical use, there are similar autoharps that appear in catalogs for Odd Fellows lodges (see photo on right from a 1908 Pettibone Brothers Mfg. Co. catalog).  The catalog explains that it could be "very easily learned by anyone having any musical ability."Pettibone harp catalog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2001_084S1NPIn Odd Fellows ritual, a “self-playing harp” is a prop for the character of David in the fraternity’s First, or Friendship, Degree. The ritual traces the biblical story of David and Jonathan teaching that “Odd Fellows…should maintain their feelings and friendship to a brother under the most severe tests.”  David was known for his musical ability, which “had a pleasant effect upon the mind and a soothing effect upon the heart of King Saul.”  In our collection we have another autoharp (at left) that closely resembles several that are illustrated in Odd Fellows regalia catalogs from the late 1800s and early 1900s.  The harp shown on the cover of the 1910 C.E. Ward Company catalog (see photo at right) shows a very similar crescent shape and decoration (called the “chaldean design”) and sold for $6.50. Harp on Ward Catalog Cover

“Pianoette” Autoharp, 1916-1940, United States, gift of Larry W. Toussaint in memory of Allison Howard Toussaint, 2016.021.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Self-Playing Harp, 1900-1930, United States, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, 2001.084. Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Rev. T.G. Beharbell, Odd Fellows Monitor and Guide, Indianapolis: Robert Douglass, 1881.


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.


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.

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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

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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

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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


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.

A Civil War Masonic Military Lodge

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Interior View of Rustic Masonic Lodge, 1863, Sam A. Cooley; E.W. Sinclair, Folly Island, South Carolina, Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.94.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In its collection,the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library has a number of Masonic and fraternal artifacts related to American Civil War history. Freemasons were among the thousands of Confederate and Union soldiers fighting throughout the four-year conflict. This stereocard shows a Masonic military lodge that was reportedly photographed in November 1863 on Folly Island, South Carolina. It was not uncommon for Masons in the military to form military or traveling lodges during times of war.  The 1st New York Engineer Regiment is believed to have established this particular lodge. They constructed the lodge with materials found on the island. This  photograph is one of the most unique Masonic lodge images in our collection.

Military lodges were usually connected to specific units. These lodges received a special dispensation from the Grand Lodge of the state in which the regiment was organized in order to be chartered and recognized as a lodge. Like other lodges, military lodges needed “volume of sacred law”, most likely a bible, and “working tools” commonly used in ritual, like a square and compasses. 

In 1861, the Grand Lodge of New York passed a resolution granting dispensations for military lodges with a stipulation that no men from outside of New York could be made Masons without the permission of the Grand Lodge. In addition, the dispensation had to be recommended by a lodge in the state and bear the names of seven petitioners. Many Grand Lodges granting dispensations for military or traveling lodges were concerned about how these lodges and their operations might impact the integrity of Freemasonry.  In 1863, due to overwhelming jurisdictional issues and questions about legality, New York passed a resolution against the "further establishment or continuance of military lodges."

These special lodges were just one of the many ways that Freemasonry was visible during the Civil War. For more information about our collection as it relates to Freemasonry during the Civil War please visit our previous blog posts at: http://bit.ly/1HD7som

To see this photograph and others from our collection on our HistoryPin map please visit:  http://www.historypin.org/en/person/64613  

 

References:

Halleran, Michael A., The Better Angels of Our Nature: Freemasonry in the American Civil War, University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 2010.

Ross, Peter, A Standard History of Freemasonry in the state of New York, New York: The Lewis Pub. Co., 1899.

Hyde, William L., History of the One hundred and twelfth regiment, N.Y. volunteers,Fredonia, NY: McKinstry, 1866.

 

 

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New Acquisition Sheds Light on a Mason and His Role in the Growth of Freemasonry in Pre-Civil War America

Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library acquired a collection of documents related to the growth of Freemasonry in the state of Alabama, many addressed to the Grand Secretary for the State of Alabama, Amand P. Pfister.

Pfister, 32°, received the Scottish Rite degrees by a Deputy of the Southern Grand Consistory and served as the Grand Secretary for the Grand Chapter, the Grand Council, and the Grand Lodge of Alabama. Born in 1802 in the Bahamas, Pfister’s family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when he was 12 years old, and he was educated at the now defunct Mount Airy College in Germantown, a neighborhood of Philadelphia.  At age 16, Pfister moved to Mobile, Alabama, where he was made a Mason. For many years, he partnered with Joel White, under the name White, Pfister and Company as retail book sellers.

In addition to his many contributions to the growth of Freemasonry, Pfister was active in the fields of education and music. In 1829, he served as instructor of Music and French at the Sims Female Academy, one of the state’s first schools for women. In 1839, Pfister, the “unofficial composer laureate” for the state of Alabama, wrote the “University March” for the University of Alabama, which was played at various University ceremonies for the "next hundred years.”
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Amand P. Pfister died on January 28, 1857, and was buried at the Church Street Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama. An elegant monument was erected over his grave by the Grand Lodge of Alabama in acknowledgement of his “unyielding devotion to the best interests of the fraternity.” 


 Scan_2015-03-12_17-38-49A. B. Dawson to Amand P. Pfister, 26 October 1840

Wetumpka, 26th Oct. 1840

Know ye, that I Armistead B. Dawson Dept. [Deputy] Grand High Priest of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the State of Alabama, Do hear authorize and delegate in my name, our worthy companion + [and] Brother Armand Pfister the Grand Secty [Secretary] to visit the city of Columbus in the state of Mississippi and organize the chapter in that city under the virtue of [authority] given them under charter under my hand + [and] Seal as O[ffice]. E. H[igh]. P[riest]. of the State of Alabama In [witness?] I here [indiscernible] set my hand The day above written.


A[rmistead]. B. Dawson, D[eputy]. G[rand]. H[igh]. P[riest]. T[uscaloosa?]. Alabama

 Your two letters were [duly?] recd [received] and owing to [sickness?] of which I have had [indiscernible] they were not answered. I shall be in Columbus myself in some 15 days and would be pleased to get there in time to aid and assist you. Start them to work. when I come “I can see how you have done it.” Give them instruction as to arranging room furniture +c [and charter?] + [and] see that they have it all prepared.

A[rmistead]. B. Dawson

Family yet sick


 

References:

Blandin, I. M. E. (1909). History of Higher Education of Women in the South: Prior to 1860. New York: Neale Publishing Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=C6AWAAAAIAAJ 13 March 2015.

Herndon, E., Wood, S. A. M., & Wiley, J. M. (1859). Report from Committee on the Pfister Monument. In Proceedings of the Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge of Alabama Held in The City of Montgomery, Commencing December 6, 1858, (pp. 172-173). Montgomery, Alabama: Barret & Wimbish.

Hughan, W. J. & Stillson, H. L. (1892). History of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, and Concordant Orders. Boston: Fraternity Publishing Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=a51r-n4e0fwC 13 March 2015.

Mitchell, J. W. S. (1859). History of Free Masonry and Masonic Digest. (Vol. 1). Marietta, Georgia: J. W. S. Mitchell. https://books.google.com/books?id=195AAAAAcAAJ 13 March 2015.

Owen, T. M. (1921). Pfister, Armand P. In History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. (Vol. 4, pp. 1355). Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing.
https://books.google.com/books?id=R2Z5AAAAMAAJ 13 March 2015.

Richardson, W. C. (1888). XIII. Tuscaloosa. In Northern Alabama: Historical and Biographical Illustrated, (pp. 513). Birmingham, Alabama: Smith & De Land. https://books.google.com/books?id=5e8xAQAAMAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s 13 March 2015.

Wiley, J. M. (1858). Annual Address of the Most Worshipful Grand Master. In Proceedings of the Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge of Alabama Held in The City of Montgomery, Commencing December 7th, 1857, (pp. 9-23). Montgomery, Alabama: Barret & Wimbish.

Captions:

Cover and Letter from A. B. Dawson to Amand P. Pfister, October 26, 1840. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 001.440.

Masonic Books and Jewels. Advertisement. Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Alabama, at its Annual Convocation, in Montgomery, December 4, 1849, back cover. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 17.974 .A316.

 

 


The Magic Lantern

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Magic Lantern, ca. 1900. Gift of the Harrisburg Consistory, S.P.R.S. 32°, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 93.041.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Magic lanterns, in their most basic form, were invented in the 1600s and are considered a precursor to the modern slide projector and even the motion picture. These lanterns were a mainstay in Masonic lodges throughout the world in the 1800s and early 1900s as they were a useful tool in teaching members about Freemasonry and initiatory rites. The lantern used an artificial light source, which evolved from candles and kerosene lamps to limelight and electricity, and a combination of lenses to enlarge small transparent images or miniature models and project them onto a wall or screen. Lanterns could vary from a simple wooden box with brass parts to ornately designed boxes with multiple lenses. In America, magic lanterns were often referred to as stereopticons so as not to be confused with entertainment that may be provided with more basic toy lanterns. “Stereopticons” were usually biunial or double lens lanterns. The terms “Sciopticon” and “Optical Lantern” were sometimes used in a similar manner.

Several scientists and mathematicians developed projection devices in the 1600s including Thomas Walgenstein (1622-1701) and Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Although Huygens is attributed with inventing the magic lantern, it was Walgenstein, a Dutch mathematician, who coined the term "Magic Lantern" and began conducting lantern demonstrations throughout Europe. In the late 1700s Etienne-Gaspard Robertson(1763-1837), a Belgian physicist and stage magician started to “conjure” ghosts for audiences. These shows lay the foundation for the popular late 18th century phantasmagoria lantern shows that featured skeletons, devils, and ghosts. Aside from these entertainment spectacles, the lanterns were used also for science, education and religious instruction by wealthy academics and Jesuit priests. As the lantern became more popular and readily available, traveling lanternists could be found hosting public performances in taverns and public meeting houses.

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Toy Lantern and Lantern Slide (Little Red Riding Hood), ca. 1900, Gift of Dorothy A. and Albert H. Richardson, Jr., 84.18.42a and 43. Photographs by David Bohl.
The lantern was gradually used more often for advertising, propaganda and entertainment purposes as it became more popular in the 1700s and 1800s. The lantern’s diverse range and use made it ubiquitous in churches, fraternal organizations and public institutions in the Victorian era.  Lanterns became more lightweight, began using standardized slide sizes and soon smaller toy lanterns were mass produced, continuing to increase their presence in schools, homes, and public lectures. The advent of cinema and the invention of smaller transparencies and the Kodachrome three-color process led to a decline in the popularity of magic lanterns.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns a collection of magic lanterns and glass lantern slides, many of which were donated by  Masonic and  fraternal groups like the Knights Templar, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows. The slides vary from those specific to Freemasonry to those depicting events in world history, literary and biblical stories, folktales, and photographs. Catalogs published in the late 1800s by The M.C. Lilley Company, one of many fraternal regalia manufacturers, included product advertisements for magic lanterns and slides for lodges. According to the 1896 M.C. Lilley catalog no. 195, a Lodge or Valley could purchase a lantern for anywhere from thirty to seventy dollars and lantern slides for two dollars each.

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Masonic Magic Lantern Slide (Master Mason’s Carpet), Gift of Armen Amerigian, 90.19.8a.
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Masonic Knights Templar Magic Lantern Slide, "Emblem of KT", 1906, Harry G. Healy, New York, New York, Gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, Jr., 87.41.16.27.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop by the museum to see a magic lantern on exhibit (Spring 2015). The lantern on display was donated by the family of Knights of Malta former Supreme Commander Gerard Dallas Jencks. Also check out our website and online catalog in the coming months as we scan and share more images of our extensive magic lantern slide collection.

Update: Please visit the online exhibition, "Illuminating Brotherhood: Magic Lanterns and Slides from the Collection" for more information and photographs about magic lantern history.



References:

Borton, Deborah and Terry Borton, Before the Movies: American Magic-Lantern Entertainment and the Nation’s First Great Screen Artist, Joseph Boggs Beale (New Barnet, Herts, United Kingdom: John Libbey publishing, 2015)

Freeman, Carla Conrad. "Visual Media in Education: An Informal History." Visual Resources. Volume 6 (1990): 327-340.

Masonic Lodge Supplies, Catalogue 1893. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library. Found in Collection, A2002/96/1, Box 4, Masonic Lodge Supplies.



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Please Pass the Butter! A New Acquisition

2014_021a-dDP1DBAs we always like to tell people, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library actively collects not just Masonic objects and documents, but items associated with all types of American fraternal groups.  Recently we purchased this butter dish, which is engraved on one side, “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 I.O.O.F.”  Like many Masonic lodges and groups, other fraternities, such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge that owned this butter dish, often combined social activities, like a meal, with their meetings.  This butter dish may have been part of a set of serving dishes that the lodge purchased for use at group meals.  The dish was manufactured by the Wilcox Silverplate Company of Meriden, Connecticut, which was established in 1865 and merged with several other companies to become the International Silverplate Company in 1898.

Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 was founded in Abington, Massachusetts, in 1845.  After meeting for almost 15 years, during which time the lodge paid out about $600 for benefits and buried one member, the lodge surrendered its charter in 1859.  In 1871, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, I.O.O.F., reinstated Pilgrim Lodge No. 75.  At its first meeting, three members of the old lodge joined five members from Mattakeeset Lodge No. 110 and ten new initiates to begin a new era of its existence.  In 1873, the lodge purchased the town’s old high school building and fitted it up as a hall.  This may be when they purchased this butter dish, although it is impossible to know without more information.  Over the next ten years, members from Pilgrim Lodge went on to start Odd Fellows lodges in Rockland, Bridgewater and South Abington. 95_061_25DI1

A quick search of our collections database for “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75” also turned up a World War I ID tag, or “dog tag.”  Unfortunately, we do not know who the tag originally belonged to, but it is stamped with the Odd Fellows three-link chain and the words “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 IOOF.”  World War I marked the first time that Americans fought after identification tags were made mandatory in the Army Regulations of 1913.  However, the serial number system was not adopted until 1918, so many World War I-era tags, like this one, do not include a number.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 Butter Dish, 1871-1900, Wilcox Silverplate Company, Meriden, CT, Museum Purchase, 2014.021a-d.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Independent Order of Odd Fellows World War I Dog Tag, 1917-1919, unidentified maker, United States, gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen Jr., 95.061.25.

Reference:

D. Hamilton Hurd, comp., History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1884.