Masonic Decorative Arts

A Watch Paper Engraved by Abner Reed of East Windsor, Connecticut

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Watch Paper, ca. 1809-1820. Engraved by Abner Reed (1771-1866), East Windsor, Connecticut. Museum Purchase, 2000.053.

Adept at creating interesting images, engravers provided their clients with these images in multiples—engraved prints were an efficient way to communicate in the early 1800s.  Engravers cut and etched images onto copper plates. These plates could be used to print several hundred impressions before they started to wear out, allowing engravers to furnish their clients with everything from product labels to bill heads to trade cards.  All of these items helped their clients undertake business and advertise their work.

This small, round piece of paper decorated with engraving is a watch paper.  Little disks like this one served a few purposes.  Fit into the inside back cover of a watch case, the paper helped shield delicate works from dust or protected an inner case from rubbing against an outer case.  It also advertised a clockmaker or jeweler’s work.  As well, some clockmakers and watch owners used the backs of the papers as a handy spot to record the dates of watch repairs, cleanings and adjustments. 

On this watch paper, Eli Porter (1789-1864) listed his occupation and his address, Williamstown, in western Massachusetts, within a shield.  Masonic symbols—two columns topped with globes, a black and white mosaic floor, three steps and an all-seeing eye—surround the shield. In choosing to use these symbols to help advertise his work, Porter declared his status as a Mason. Though his name is not recorded in membership records at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, there was a Masonic lodge in Williamstown during the early part of Eli Porter’s career. Friendship Lodge operated in Williamstown from 1785 through 1828.

Born in East Hartford, Connecticut, Eli moved to Williamstown around 1806 to study clockmaking with his uncle, Daniel Porter (1775-1809). Like Eli, Daniel was native to East Hartford. Daniel learned his craft from clockmaker and silversmith Daniel Burnap ( 1759-1838) who lived nearby in East Windsor.  Daniel also met his wife, Polly Badger (1776-1859), in the same town.  Through his family members’ connection to East Windsor, Eli Porter may have known of or met Abner Reed, who engraved this watch paper.  Reed signed it: “A. Reed Sc. E. W.”  The “Sc.” indicates Reed engraved the paper;  “E. W.” is an abbreviation of East Windsor.  Not known to be a Freemason, Reed nevertheless did work for the Masonic community.  He engraved at least one certificate for a Connecticut lodge, as well as a Masonic apron.  With this charming watch paper, Reed further showed his familiarity with Masonic symbols. 

Reference:

David A. Sperling, “Eli Porter, Clockmaker of Williamstown, MA: His Town, His Life, His Clock,” NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin, November/December 2017, 547-555.


New to the Collection: Masonic Pitcher Owned by Charles Copeland

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Pitcher, 1807-1809. Herculaneum Pottery, Liverpool, England. Gift of Kitty Stayskal, 2016.061.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s English pottery manufacturers sold great quantities of light colored earthenware, called creamware, to the American market.  Much of it was plain tableware, but consumers who wanted something special could select pitchers, punch bowls or other forms decorated with transfer-printed designs.  Many pottery manufacturers commissioned engravers to make transfer-prints for their wares that would be attractive particularly to Americans.  These designs related to current events or national heroes—George Washington was a favorite.  Along with prints that treated issues of the day, manufacturers created designs to appeal to Freemasons

This pitcher, marked as the product of the Herculaneum Pottery in Liverpool, England, features two of the most common Masonic-themed designs found on transfer-print pitchers of the era. One is a verse of the “Entered Apprentice Song” in a surround ornamented with Masonic symbols (illustrated at left); the other design displays a raft of Masonic symbols flanked by two columns, topped by figures representing the virtues Faith, Hope and Charity (illustrated at right).  The pitcher was also personalized with the name of its owner— “Charles Copland” and his profession— “Housewright”—painted in gilding under the spout (illustrated below). 

Family history relates that this pitcher belonged to Charles Copeland, who lived from 1782 to 1809.  City directories and other records show that a man

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Pitcher, 1807-1809. Herculaneum Pottery, Liverpool, England. Gift of Kitty Stayskal, 2016.061.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

named Charles Copeland made his home on Orange Street in Boston and worked as a housewright, or builder, in the early 1800s.  Records at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts note that Charles Copeland, most likely the owner of this pitcher, took the Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason degrees in St. Andrew’s Lodge of Boston in 1807.  Copeland, or a well-wisher, may have ordered this pitcher to commemorate his becoming a Freemason.  With its Masonic-themed designs, along with Copeland’s name and occupation, this pitcher represented several elements of its owner’s identity.  Copeland died young, at just 27 years old, leaving his wife Sally with three small children.  For his family, who preserved this vessel for several generations, this pitcher may have also served as a memorial to its first owner.      

 

 

References

John D. Hamilton, Material Culture of the American Freemasons. Lexington, Massachusetts:  Museum of Our National Heritage, 1994.

Aimee E. Newell, Hilary Anderson Stelling and Catherine Compton Swanson, Curiosities of the Craft:  Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection, Boston and Lexington, Massachusetts:  Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts and the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 2013

Robert Teitelman, Patricia A. Halfpenny and Ronald W. Fuchs II, Success to America:  Creamware for the American Market. Woodbridge, Suffolk:  Antiques Collectors’ Club, 2010.

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Pitcher, 1807-1809. Herculaneum Pottery, Liverpool, England. Gift of Kitty Stayskal, 2016.061.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

 


New to the Collection: Apron Owned by John Mix

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Royal Arch Apron, 1810-1830. Attributed to James T. Porter (active 1810-1830), Middletown, Connecticut. Museum Purchase, 2017.011.

In the 1950s James Royal Case, later the Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, noted, “We probably are indebted to this brother for preservation of records which Storer [Eliphalet Gilman Storer (1793-1870), long-time Grand Secretary] transcribed ‘almost entire’ and printed in the Connecticut Grand Lodge Proceedings….”  Case was praising John Mix (1755-1834)--the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut for almost thirty years, from 1791 to 1820.  Following his service at the Grand Lodge, Mix filled the same role at the Grand Chapter of Connecticut from 1821 until 1831.  Along the way he held offices in both Frederick Lodge No. 14 in Farmington and Pythagoras Chapter in Hartford.  He was also a probate judge and town clerk in his hometown, Farmington, from 1791 to 1823.  He stepped away from his work in Freemasonry in 1831, “on account of his advanced age, and almost total blindness, occasioned by cataracts on both of his eyes,” after “long and faithful services.”

A few months ago the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchased a hand-colored engraved leather apron (pictured at left) with a family history of having been owned by John Mix.  The family had preserved it along with an 1818 receipt for furniture made out to Mix as part of his job as Grand Secretary.   To decorate the apron, a painter highlighted Masonic symbols, many of them used in the Royal Arch degrees, in watercolor (pictured at left) and added a gold border around the edges.  The apron has dull red silk trim along its top edge; at one time it likely had ties made out of the same material.  The museum owns a similar apron, as does the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts (pictured at right).  The apron in the GLMA collection has a history of having belonged to Ebenezer Way (1784-1849), a Freemason from New London, Connecticut.  He may have worn it at the cornerstone laying ceremony for the Bunker Hill Monument in 1825.      

This apron design and at least two others are thought to be the work of engraver James T. Porter (active 1810-1830), of Middletown, Connecticut.  The attributions stem from a printed inscription on one of the apron designs: “J. T. Porter, Middletown, Conn.”  Another design has been attributed to Porter through its similarities to the inscribed example and a related inscription on the second design: “Designed and engraved by a brother, Midd. Conn.”  Unfortunately, James T. Porter’s name does not show up in the Grand Lodge of Connecticut’s membership records and little is known of his biography.  The apron thought to have been owned by John Mix and the related example collected by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, do not have printed inscriptions on them but have been attributed to James T. Porter based on similarities in design and histories of ownership in Connecticut.  Hopefully, further research will  uncover more information about James T. Porter and the aprons he engraved for the Masonic community in the early 1800s.         

 

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Royal Arch Apron, ca. 1825. Attributed to James T. Porter (active 1810-1830), Middletown, Connecticut. Loaned by The Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.7553. Photograph by David Bohl.

Many thanks to Gary Littlefield and Richard Memmott of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut.

References:

James R. Case, “Nominal Roll of those on record in the Minutes of American Union Lodge, 1776-1783,” Transactions of the American Lodge of Research, vol. VI, no. 1, July 2, 1952-December 12, 1953, 383.

Barbara Franco, Bespangled, Painted & Embroidered: Decorated Masonic Aprons in America 1790-1850, (Lexington, Massachusetts:  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage, 1980) 92-93.

Aimee E. Newell, Hilary Anderson Stelling, Catherine Compton Swanson, Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures form the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection (Boston and Lexington, Massachusetts: Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts and Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 2013) 102-103.  

Joseph K. Wheeler, Record of Capitular Masonry in the State of Connecticut (Hartford, Connecticut: Wiley, Waterman & Eaton, 1875).


New to the Collection: Butterfly Wing Picture Made for Harry Lindquist

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Picture Made for Karl Harry Lindquist, ca. 1948. Aliwu, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Museum Purchase, 2017.001. Photograph by David Bohl.

One of our most commented on blog posts in past years discussed a tray decorated with Masonic symbols formed out of butterfly wings.  We are excited to have just added another butterfly wing picture that displays several Masonic symbols to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection.   

Colorful souvenirs decorated with iridescent butterfly wings and reverse painting on glass—often sold in Brazil or Buenos Aires—enjoyed popularity from the 1920s through the 1950s.  Craftsmen assembled this custom-made butterfly wing picture for traveler Karl Harry Lindquist (1909-1985), probably in 1948.  The sixteen by twenty-two inch framed picture combines information about Lindquist’s Masonic affiliations with two pictures of stylized Brazilian scenes.  The craftsmen who put this work together used blue, pink and yellow butterfly wings to give color to lettering, some symbols and the borders between the different elements.

Lindquist, as noted on the picture, belonged to Paul Revere Lodge #462 in San Francisco, as well as the Islam Shrine, located in the same city. Membership records at the Grand Lodge of California document that Karl Harry Lindquist joined Paul Revere Lodge in 1944.  Lindquist received degrees in the Scottish Rite in San Francisco in 1945.  Symbols of different bodies in the Scottish Rite are portrayed on the picture in butterfly wings and in black, yellow, white, red and green paint. 

Born in Sweden, Karl Harry Lindquist immigrated to the United States as a young man in 1929.  Early in his career he worked as a seaman, ship’s cook and steward.  Over time he lived in New York, San Francisco and New Jersey.  He became an American citizen and eventually married.  Intriguingly, as logged on passenger lists and in immigration records, in 1948 Lindquist traveled to Rio de Janerio two times.  He went in July, working as a merchant, and again in September, working as a representative.  The picture’s maker marked it on the back: Aliwu, Rio.  Lindquist likely commissioned this picture celebrating his involvement in Freemasonry on one of his 1948 journeys.

Many thanks to Jason Harding, Grand Lodge of California, and Larissa Watkins, Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, SJ, USA.

 


New to the Collection: Masonic Collar Box

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Collar Box, late 1800s-early 1900s. Museum Purchase, 2017.012. Photograph by David Bohl.

Recently the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library purchased a wooden box decorated with inlay for the collection (illustrated at the left).  This three-part round box was designed for a particular purpose—storing collars and collar studs.

Householders favored round and oval boxes made of wood for storing kitchen and pantry items throughout the 1800s.  Makers designed boxes in different sizes for all kinds of supplies including meal, sugar, cheese, butter and herbs. This box probably dates from the late 1800s.  Its manufacturer employed the same materials and techniques utilized in making round household boxes in earlier decades.  These boxes typically had sturdy wooden tops and bottoms with sides constructed out of thin pieces of strong, pliable wood shaped on a mold.  Box tops sometimes bore labels or were decorated with paint or carving.

In the mid-1800s, a new style of men’s shirt began to take hold—shirts worn with detachable white collars.  This innovation allowed men to wear a fresh, starched collar without the expense or labor of someone laundering an entire shirt.  By the 1890s specialized manufacturers produced millions of linen and cotton collars, as well as celluloid and disposable paper collars for men.  Manufacturers often sold collars in decorated cardboard boxes advertising their brand.    

This small round box (just over 5 inches high and 7 inches in diameter) was designed to store collars.  Two interlocking trays allowed the owner to separate different kinds of collars.  A small drawer cleverly fit into the side of

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Collar Box, late 1800s-early 1900s. Museum Purchase, 2017.012. Photograph by David Bohl.

the box (illustrated at the right) provided a convenient place for keeping track of the small collar studs which secured collars to shirts.   An inlay design on the top of the box featured a square and compasses with the letter G—a symbol of Freemasonry—which suggests that this box once belonged to a well-dressed Mason.   

 

 

Reference:

Nina Fletcher Little, Neat and Tidy:  Boxes and Their Contents Used in Early American Households (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1980), 150-161.


New to the Collection: D. Eames' Mark Medal

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Mark Medal, 1811. Probably New York. Museum Purchase, 2016.009.2. Photograph by David Bohl.

In 1811 a Freemason named D. Eames commissioned an engraver or silversmith to create a silver mark medal.  This medal (at left) is a recent addition to the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

On one side Eames had the craftsman depict different Masonic symbols; on the other he requested the letters of the mnemonic associated with the mark degree and his own personal symbol be engraved.  Many mark medals produced between 1790 and 1830 feature, not only the owner’s name and personal emblem, but also the name of his mark lodge or chapter and its location.  Without this information or a history of ownership associated with the medal, it is difficult to learn more about D. Eames or where his medal was made.  Mark medals in this form—the shape of a shield topped with an open Bible and a square and compasses—often come from New York.  We’ve recently posted about shield-shaped medals examples from Middleburgh and Elmira, New York.  Though the majority of shield-shaped mark medals in the Museum’s collection are from New York, Mark Master Masons from other areas commissioned medals in this shape.  Our collection includes examples from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. 

For his own personal symbol (see below, at right) Eames selected two agricultural tools, a scythe and a sickle.  Farmers used both tools for harvesting crops—long-handled scythes for cutting fields of crops like hay or grain; short-handled sickles for working in small areas.  In terms of Masonic symbols, Eames’ medal features several.  They include a square and compasses with an open Bible symbolizing the Great Lights of the Lodge, along with a sun, moon, an ark and an altar.  As well, the engraver delineated seven stars, the number required for a perfect lodge; an arch with a keystone, a symbol of Royal Arch Masonry; a beehive, standing for industry; the letter G, symbolizing God or geometry; and a floor comprised of light and dark tiles, representing the good and evil in life.  In incising the letters and symbols onto the medal, the engraver used different tools and techniques to mark its smooth surface.  With a graver, or engraving tool, with a point shaped like a letter “v,” the craftsman cut lines into the silver.  The force he used helped determine the depth and width of the line. To suggest the slightly uneven lines of the Bible’s printed text, the engraver may have wielded a rolling tool, or roulette, to form a line made out of little dots cut into the metal.  On the side of the medal that bears the mark degree mnemonic, the craftsman rocked a graver with a flat or slightly rounded point back and forth to make the wavy circle that surrounds Eames’ mark.  He used a similar graver with a flat point to cut the decorative border on the side of the medal that bears Eames’ name.  Drawing on his experience, the craftsman who made this medal created a distinct badge that suited D. Eames’ needs and wishes.

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Mark Medal, 1811. Probably New York. Museum Purchase, 2016.009.2. Photograph by David Bohl.

   

References:

Barbara Franco, Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts (Lexington, Massachusetts:  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage, 1976) 47-52.        


New to the Collection: Samuel Tuthill’s Mark Medal

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Mark Medal made for Samuel Tuthill, 1816. New York. Museum Purchase, 2016.032.

According to a county history, Samuel Tuthill (1767-1851), the owner of this engraved medal (at left), moved from Southold, at the eastern end of Long Island, to the new settlement of Newtown in Tioga County, New York, in 1793. Tax and census records from the 1790s and the early 1800s show Samuel Tuthill making a home and raising a family there.  As part of building their community, in 1793 area Masons established Union Lodge No. 30.  Samuel Tuthill became an active member of the Newtown lodge; from 1813 to 1826 he served as Master at least four times.  Newtown citizens changed the name of their town to Elmira in 1808.  A few years later Samuel Tuthill was one of the men who received a dispensation from the Grand Chapter of New York to form a Royal Arch chapter, Elmira No. 42, in 1815.  The Grand Chapter granted the group a warrant the following year.

After taking the mark degree, Tuthill commissioned a craftsman to make this silver medal for him.  In the shape of a shield topped with a Bible and a square and compasses, Tuthill’s medal resembles others made around the same time such as this example from Connecticut and another from New York.  On one side Tuthill had his name, “Saml Tuthill,” incised in the metal with what is likely the year he took the mark degree, 1816, and stylized renditions of Masonic symbols such as an arch with a keystone, a pavement and the letter G.  Within the arch there are three letters from a form of cipher writing Masons sometimes used among themselves. 

On the reverse side of his medal (at right, below) Tuthill had the name and number of his chapter engraved.  At the center, within the circle containing the letters of the mnemonic associated with the mark degree, Tuthill asked the engraver to depict Tuthill’s mark, the emblem he chose to represent himself as part of the mark degree.  As his personal symbol, Tuthill selected a bird, probably a dove, in flight holding a spring in its beak.  Men who had taken the mark degree chose many kinds of symbols, Masonic and otherwise.  Tuthill’s dove may have related to Freemasonry; the symbol indicated a messenger in English Masonry but was not commonly used in American Freemasonry.  Alternately, the dove may have symbolized peace, a meaning of the symbol that was popular at the time.  A county history relates that Tuthill briefly lead a company of recruits from his county during the War of 1812.  In 1816, a few years after his service, peace may have been a virtue on Samuel Tuthill’s mind.  

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Mark Medal made for Samuel Tuthill, 1816. New York. Museum Purchase, 2016.032.

References: 

History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins, and Schuyler Counties, New York (Philadelphia: Everts & Ensign, 1879), 260.

Barbara Franco, Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts (Lexington, Massachusetts: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage, 1976), 49.

Gary L. Heinmiller, compiler, “Craft Masonry in Chemung, Schuyler and Tioga Counties, New York” (Onondaga & Oswego Masonic Districts Historical Societies, May, 2010), 3, 4, 24.

Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of New York, vol. 1, 1798-1853, (Buffalo: Published by the order of the Grand Chapter, 1871), 129.

Ausburn Towner, Our County and its People:  A History of the Valley and County of Chemung, (Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1892), 75, 176, 422-423.


New to the Collection: "A Free Mason Composed of the Materials of his Lodge"

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"A Free Mason Composed of the Materials of his Lodge," 1781, J. Coles (dates unknown), artist, Salem, Massachusetts Perkins and Coles, printers. Gift of Jon Gregory Adams Hill, 2016.005.6. Photograph by David Bohl.

Along with several other Masonic items from the Hill family of Beverly, Massachusetts, a donor recently gave this print (at left) to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  Designed by J. Coles (dates unknown) of Salem or Boston, Massachusetts, A Free Mason Composed of the Materials of his Lodge shows a fanciful Freemason; his body formed of Masonic symbols.  His head is a shining sun (a symbol of the lodge master), his neck and body are shaped out of Masonic tools (including a plumb, a level, closed compasses and a rule).  He has columns (symbolizing the pillars at the entrance of King Solomon’s Temple) for legs and blocks, or ashlars (representing perfection through education), for feet.  The figure stands with his bent arms pointing up and down on a black and white pavement, another Masonic symbol.  An elaborate surround of curving elements supports the flooring and frames a verse.  The verse suggests that even when Masonic symbols are easily observed, their meaning is known only to Freemasons.

This striking image closely resembles others.  A London printer issued one delineated by A. Slade (dates unknown) in the 1750s (at left, below) now in the collection of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.  In the 1700s Americans who sought to depict Masonic symbols often relied on English models for their own work. The Slade print was, in turn, the model for a watercolor painting thought to have been undertaken by a young Rhode Island artist named Samuel King (1749-1819) in 1763 (at right).  The London version also likely inspired the design of transfer prints on ceramic vessels decorated to appeal to Masonic consumers.    

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"A Free Mason Form’d out of the Materials of his Lodge," 1754, A. Slade (dates unknown), artist, William Tringham (1723-1770?), publisher, London. Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.0141. Photograph by David Bohl.

In crafting these images Slade, King and Coles drew on a tradition of whimsical images of artisans first popularized in prints published in Europe in the late 1600s and early 1700s.  In those depictions, artists cleverly portrayed craftsmen and women in shapes formed out of their tools and finished wares.  You can see an example, an etching of a glazier published in 1695, here. These eye-catching images can be read as satires, grotesques or as affectionate depictions of skilled tradesmen.  Likewise, Coles’ image of A Free Mason Composed of the Materials of his Lodge can be interpreted as either a caricature or as a celebration of its subject. 

References:

Barbara Franco, Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts. Lexington, Massachusetts: Scottish Rite Masonic Museum of Our National Heritage, 1975, 47-52.

John D. Hamilton, Material Culture of the American Freemasons. Lexington, Massachusetts:  Museum of Our National Heritage, 1994, 29-30.

Aimee E. Newell, Hilary Anderson Stelling and Catherine Compton Swanson, Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection. Boston and Lexington, Massachusetts: Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts and Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 2013, 72-73.

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"A Free Mason Form’d out of the Materials of his Lodge," 1763, Samuel King (1749-1819), Newport, Rhode Island. Extended Loan from Lodge of St. Andrew, A.F. & A.M., Boston, Massachusetts, EL76.001.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

New to the Collection: William L. Peet’s Mark Medal

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Medal made for William L. Peets, 1824. Connecticut. Museum Purchase, 2015.014.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Readers who subscribe to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library know we can’t get enough of the intriguing engraved medals created for Freemasons in the early 1800s, especially those associated with the mark degree. We’ve posted about mark medals in the past.  Today we want to introduce a recent acquisition—a mark medal that can, unusually, be attributed to a designer or engraver who put his name on similarly decorated examples.

In October of 1824 William Leavenworth Peet (or Peets, as noted on the medal) affiliated with the Masonic lodge St. John’s No. 3 in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  In April of the same year he had joined Jerusalem Chapter No. 13, also in Bridgeport.  To commemorate his taking the mark degree at Jerusalem Chapter, Peet (1788-1866) commissioned a silver shield-shaped medal inscribed with his name, his chapter, its location and the date (illustrated at left).  On the other side of his medal Peet had engraved an emblem that he selected for himself as part of the mark degree--a letter “W” (illustrated below at right).  The letter may have referred to his first name or symbolized Wisdom, one of the supports of the lodge, often represented by the letter W or by an Ionic column.   

The craftsman who decorated Peet’s medal did so with flair.  He added vine-like lines to the edges of the metal and cut out tiny pieces of the medal in different patterns to give the medal a richly textured border.    A very similar style of engraving decorates a medal made for Lockwood N. DeForest in 1826, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a medal crafted for Silas Wooster Sherman in 1826, owned by the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.  DeForest, like Peet, belonged to St. John’s No. 3 and Jerusalem Chapter.  Sherman was a member of Hiram Chapter No. 1 in Newtown, Connecticut.  An engraver or designer, C. Foote, signed these medals at the bottom of the circle that enclosed the owners’ personal emblems.  These medals, and two others in private collections that are signed by Foote, all belonged to Royal Arch Masons that lived in Connecticut. 

The signer was likely Charles Foote (1793-1862), a member of St. John’s No. 3 and of Jerusalem Chapter.  Intriguingly, Foote worked as a bank cashier, not as far as we know, as an engraver, artist or silversmith.  Records have not shed light on Foote’s interest or skill in engraving.  Hopefully further research will  uncover more information about Foote.  Alternately, Foote may have designed rather than engraved the medals or the Charles Foote who belonged to the same lodge and chapter as William L. Peet may not have been the C. Foote who signed the medals.   If you have any ideas about C. Foote and the medals he signed, be sure to leave us a comment below. 

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Medal made for William L. Peets, 1824. Connecticut. Museum Purchase, 2015.014.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Theodore H. Sommers, Jr., 200th Anniversary of the Found of St. John's Lodge No. 3 (Bridgeport, Connecticut:  Masonic Temple, 1962).

Thanks to Richard C. Memmott, Sr., Grand Secretary, Grand Lodge of Connecticut.

 


Daniel Rathbone’s Certificate and Mark Medal

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Master Mason Certificate for Daniel Rathbone, 1796. Engraved by Isaac Hutton, Albany, New York. Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives, A78/038/1.

Around 1790 Daniel Rathbone (1759-1808) moved about 70 miles from Berkshire County, Massachusetts, to Saratoga County, New York.  Recently married to Anna Reddington (1764-1855), he relocated to the area to start a saw mill and a family in an area called Rock City, a community that later became part of Milton, New York.  A county history published in the late 1800s claimed Rathbone was Rock City’s first settler.  Over the next ten years he and his wife had eleven children. As part of establishing his life in a new town, Rathbone joined the first Masonic lodge in the area—Franklin Lodge No. 37 in nearby Ballston, New York.  His Master Mason certificate (pictured at left), issued in 1796, survives.  Engraved by Albany, New York, craftsman Isaac Hutton (1766-1855), it features images of Masonic symbols and a promise, attested by the officers of the lodge, that they “recommend him [Rathbone] as a worthy member.”

Area Freemasons solicited Franklin Lodge No. 37’s warrant from the Grand Lodge of New York in 1794.  A few years later, in 1803, Freemasons in Ballston requested and received a warrant from the Grand Chapter of New York for a Mark Master’s Lodge.  Franklin Mark Lodge No. 21 may have met in the same place as Franklin Lodge No. 37.  Daniel Rathbone was likely a member of this group.  A silver mark medal engraved with his name (pictured at right, below) and mark (pictured at left, below) forms part of the collection here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.  As part of taking the mark degree, a Freemason chose an emblem to represent himself; often a symbol related to his profession or a representation of a value he held dear.  For his mark, Rathbone selected a bird surrounded by a snake eating its own tail (a traditional symbol of infinity or ouroboros).  What the symbols engraved on the mark medal meant to Rathbone is not obvious.  On the other side of the medal the engraver inscribed “Daniel Rothbon” (a variation on the spelling of Daniel’s last name) and “Mk Ms Lodge Ballston” (an abbreviation for Mark Master’s Lodge). 

According to a family history, Daniel Rathbone’s father, also named Daniel (1731-1823), moved from Berkshire County, Massachusetts, to Milton, 

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Mark Medal, 1803-1808. New York. Special Acquisitions Fund, 78.45.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

New York, around 1804, near three of his sons.  Given the fact that both men lived near Ballston around the time residents founded the Mark Master’s Lodge No. 21, it is possible that the medal belonged to Daniel’s father. Daniel Rathbone Jr.’s certificate proves his interest and involvement in Freemasonry during the time that local brethren established the Ballston mark lodge.  It seems most likely that the medal was his property.  If the medal belonged to the younger Daniel Rathbone, he did not own it for long.  He died unexpectedly.  As noted on his gravestone, his “death was occasioned by an accident at his saw mill on the 13th day of December 1808 aged 49 years 9 months and 11 days."

 

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Mark Medal, 1803-1808. New York. Special Acquisitions Fund, 78.45.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

 

References:

John C. Cooley, Rathbone Genealogy (Syracuse, N.Y.:  Press of the Courier Job Print, 1989), 483-485.

Dave Bixby, compiler, “Town of Milton Cemeteries, Rock City Falls Cemetery” (http://www.saratoganygenweb.com).

John Hamilton, Material Culture of the American Freemasons (Lexington, Massachusetts:  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 1994), 144-145.

Gary L. Heinmiller, compiler, Craft Masonry in Saratoga and Warren Counties, New York, (Onondaga & Oswego Masonic Districts Historical Societies, 2010-2011), 2, 13.

Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, History of Saratoga County, New York (Philadelphia: Everts & Ensign, 1878), 485.

Proceedings of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of the State of New York, (Buffalo, New York: The Grand Chapter, 1871) 1:29.