Masonic Jewels

Masonic Marks: Lost and Found

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Royal Arch Mason, 1886-1897. John B. Scholl (1857-1924), Chicago, Illinois. Museum Purchase, 97.031.4.

From the middle of the 1800s and through the early 1900s, many well-dressed Freemasons wore fobs that bore the mark that they had selected as part of receiving the Mark Degree. Others sported fobs engraved with not only their mark, but also the names of the different Masonic bodies they belonged to, along with the dates they had joined. The Royal Arch Mason here (at left), wears a keystone-shaped mark as a fob attached to his watch chain, along with a rich red velvet collar and apron, embroidered in gold.

Small, valuable, and connected to a watch chain with only a ring or hook, the fob style of Masonic marks worn by the subject of this portrait, and similar fobs, did get lost or were stolen. Countless advertisements and snippets from newspapers, hint at how frequently these items went astray--and at how much their owners wished for their return.

In 1856, Jason R. Hanna, staying at the Lima House in Lima, Ohio, advertised that his "MASONIC MARK made of gold in the shape of a Key Stone, with a locket enclosure, was lost or STOLEN." For its return he offered a $5 reward "and NO QUESTIONS ASKED." A few years later, newspapers reported on the return of a Masonic mark, "in the shape of a Maltese cross, of solid gold," that had belonged to Col. T. S. Martin, a Union solider that had died at Manassas, to his widow in Philadelphia. Thaddeus Miller, a Mississippi soldier, had retrieved the mark and, after many months, it was delivered to Mrs. Martin.

The same year, in 1868, an advertisement in The Evening Telegraph of Philadelphia sought the owner of "a silver watch and a gold Masonic mark, bearing the inscription, 'Girard Mark Lodge, No. 214'" that had been stolen by an escaped convict called George Black.  Another Philadelphia paper told the story of an unlucky man named John Matsinger who, in 1894, lost his watch, chain, and gold Masonic mark after being drugged at Arthur Chamber's saloon. A policeman intercepted the thief while he was trying to pawn Matsinger's property, and it was restored to its owner.

Another observant police officer received a reward of "a bank note of substantial value and an imported cigar" when he returned a lost Masonic mark decorated with diamonds to its owner, W. L. Marsh of Pittsburgh. Marsh, upon having his mark restored to him explained that "he valued it highly" as the fob had been given to him by his employees.  He rated it "without price...for its associations."

An even more remarkable story of a mark returned to its owner was that of the mark that belonged to Rev. Dr. H. Franklin Schlegel. Around 1911, Rev. Schlegel visited his family's farm at Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, and "inspected the big flock of Plymouth Rocks" in the chicken coops. During this visit he wore, "Suspended from his watch chain...his Masonic mark, representing the Blue Lodge, the Chapter, Commandery, Consistory or 32nd degree...." As he examined the chickens "the charm, fell to the ground" only to be eaten by one of the hens, though the bird that ate it could not be identified. Three years later, Dr. Schlegel's gold and diamond mark was discovered during excavation at the farm "in the old hen yard." After a small repair to the damaged enamel, the delighted Dr. Schlegel resumed wearing his fob.

If you have an interesting story about a lost or found Masonic mark or jewel, tell us about it in the comments below.

 

References:

"Lost or Stolen!," The Times-Democrat (Lima, OH), 5/3/1856, 3.

"A Masonic mark...," The Galveston Daily News (Galveston, TX), 12/9/1868, 1.

"An Owner Wanted," The Evening Telegraph (Philadelphia, PA), 7/18/1868, 8.

"Knocked Out," The Times (Philadelphia, PA), 8/4/1894, 6.

"Policeman Found Fine Masonic Mark," The Morning Post (Camden, NJ), 5/8/1906, 8.

"Dr. Schlegel Recovers Long-Lost Masonic Mark," Mount Carmel Item (Mount Carmel, PA), 7/25/1914, 1.


New to the Collection: Scottish Rite Jewel Owned by Winslow Lewis

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Jewel Owned by Winslow Lewis, ca. 1863. Museum Purchase, 2020.028.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library recently added a sparkling jewel owned by Winslow Lewis (1799-1875) to it its collection. This jewel, in the form of a compasses and arc topped with a crown containing a cross and a pelican feeding her chicks was likely presented to Lewis when he served as the Most Wise Master of Mount Olivet Chapter of Rose Croix in Boston in 1863.

Lewis’s jewel is made of metal set with cut glass stones in white, green and red. These stones, called paste, are imitation gems cut from lead glass that is soft, refracts light and can be produced in different colors. The jewel, almost 4 inches high, features a symbol, the pelican in her piety, used in the 18th degree of Scottish Rite Freemasonry. The pelican, as depicted on this jewel, feeds her chicks with blood drawn from a wound in her chest, representing self-sacrifice, charity, and resurrection. On this jewel, the head of the pelican and the chicks are formed from red stones, echoing the color of the blood. At the center of the cross is a group of red stones set in a circle that symbolize a rose. Unfortunately, the jeweler who created this elegant object did not mark it; its maker is unknown.

On the back of the jewel (see below), on the arc, an engraver noted the name of its owner, "Winslow Lewis." Trained as a physician, Lewis was a surgeon and anatomist who taught more than 400 private medical students and was associated with the Massachusetts General Hospital. He wrote and translated several book about anatomy. Many other interests claimed his time. In 1861, for example, members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society elected him president, a position he filled until 1866. He amassed a well-regarded collection of Papal medals and was the first president of the Boston Numismatic Society, founded in 1860. He served as a trustee at Harvard College and at the Boston Public Library.

In addition to these and other pursuits, he led, as one author described, “a Masonic life of greatest activity and usefulness, extending over more than thirty years.” He first received his degrees at Columbian Lodge in Boston in 1830 and 1831, and, soon after, took the York and Scottish Rite degrees. Twenty-four years after he was raised at Columbian Lodge, he served as the Grand Master of Massachusetts for two years. He held the office again in 1860. During the time that he received this jewel, along with his office at Mount Olivet Chapter, he was the Grand Secretary General for the Supreme Council. Lewis’s jewel is a striking artifact and reminder of the Masonic career of a man who declared that, “…in Masonry, I have found the best friends, the best social ties and comforts….”

 

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Back of Jewel Owned by Winslow Lewis, ca. 1863. Museum Purchase, 2020.028.

References:

"Personal Sketches," Freemasons' Monthly Magazine, Vol XX, No. 8, June 1861, 231.

“Obituary, Dr. Winslow Lewis” Boston Journal (Boston, MA), August 4, 1875, [2].

Samuel Harrison Baynard, Jr., History of the Supreme Council, 33°Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Vol. 1 (Boston, MA: The Supreme Council, 1938), 428-29.


An Elaborate Royal Arch Jewel Owned by Lambert Keatting

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Front, Royal Arch Jewel, 1810. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.6656.

This elaborate gilded Royal Arch jewel belonged to Lambert Keatting (1773-1847), a member of Harmony Holy Royal Arch Chapter No. 52 in Philadelphia. Founded in 1794, the chapter—like others in Pennsylvania at the time—worked under the authority of a craft lodge warrant issued by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and took its name from that lodge, Harmony Lodge No. 52. In spite of its connection with Harmony Lodge No. 52, the chapter drew its membership from several different craft lodges in Philadelphia. Lambert Keatting belonged to Lodge No. 67, where he was elected Master in 1811 and 1812. Later, in 1820, he became a member of Lodge No. 2, also in Philadelphia.

A boot and shoemaker, Keatting joined the Harmony Holy Royal Arch Chapter No. 52 in 1810. A few years later, in 1816 and 1817, he served as the presiding officer, or High Priest, of the chapter. Around the same time, he was appointed to be the Senior Grand Deacon at the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Keatting had a life-long connection to Freemasonry. When he died, in 1847, his friends and acquaintances were requested to attend his funeral. The notice of this event in the newspaper invited specifically, “The Brethren of the Masonic Order generally, and particularly Lodge No. 2….”  

Keatting’s intriguing jewel, part of the collection of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, appears to have been made from two separate jewels(at left). The inner jewel—the round element topped with a bow at the top a banner at the bottom—is a Royal Arch jewel . This style of jewel—in the shape of a circle containing two interlaced triangles—was first worn by English Royal Arch Masons in the mid-1700s. On this jewel, at the center of the star, is a triangle that, on one side, has an engraving of a compasses surrounding a globe, and, on the other side, a circle with the letters of the mnemonic associated with the Mark Master Degree (below, at left). The space within the circle is left blank, suggesting that Keatting may have not taken the degree. Or, if he did, he did not have his personal mark or emblem engraved on this jewel. The banner at the base of the jewel threads beneath an oval with the letter G (a symbol for God or geometry) engraved on it. On the circle and on the arms of the triangle, on both sides of the jewel, an engraver cut phrases in Latin, English, and Greek that relate to the Royal Arch Degree (you can read about these inscriptions here, as they appear on another Royal Arch jewel made in England around 1791). On the back of the jewel, the engraver added Keatting’s name on one of the horizontal arms of the triangle, as well as a Latin phrase and the date (1810) on the circle. On the back of the jewel, the banner at the bottom bears the name of Keatting’s chapter, Harmony Royal Arch Chapter.

The outer element of the jewel is in the shape of an arch supported by two columns, spanned by four steps at the base. At the peak of the arch, above a keystone engraved with an all-seeing eye, is a hanging loop. A ladder (representing Jacob’s Ladder) connects the arch to the bow at the top of the round jewel. To join the arch to the round jewel, a craftsman cut away part of the bow. The round jewel is also connected to the inner sides of the columns and the top of the stairs. On the back side of the jewel, at the base, an engraver cut the initials of the name of the chapter and its number, “H. H. R  A. C. N[o] 52.” This inscription suggests that the arch and columns surrounding Keatting’s jewel may have come from a jewel owned by the chapter. Why Keatting’s jewel and another were joined together is unknown. If you have an idea or theory, we would love to hear  it. Please share it in the comments section below.

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Back, Royal Arch Jewel, 1810. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.6656.

References:

John Curtis, Centennial Celebration and History of Harmony Chapter No. 52 (Philadelphia, PA: Dunlap Printing Co., 1894).

Bernard E. Jones, Freemasons’ Book of the Royal Arch (London, England: George G. Harrap & Company Ltd), 1969,258-271.

Joshua L. Lyte, Reprint of the Minutes of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA: The Grand Lodge, 1897).

Public Ledger, (Philadelphia, PA) August 6, 1847), [2].


New to the Collection: A Mark Medal Made for Thomas Colling

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Mark Medal Made for Thomas Colling, 1817-1830, New York. Museum Purchase, 2018.017a. Photograph by David Bohl.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently added an elegant and distinctive mark medal to its collection. In 1817, the owner of this medal, Thomas Colling (d. 1859) received the first three degrees at the newly founded Utica Lodge No. 270, in Utica, New York. The same year, the Grand Chapter of New York gave area Freemasons permission to establish Oneida Royal Arch Chapter No. 57. Thomas Colling joined this organization as well. Sometime after he received the Mark degree at the chapter, he commissioned this sophisticated mark jewel (at left).

Colling’s jewel is a shield-shaped. One side bears the motto of the Royal Arch, “Holiness to the Lord” at the top. At the point of the shield, the engraver cut block and script letters spelling out Colling’s name and chapter within an oval. The center of the medal features a female figure holding a ball and a plumb line, leaning against a plain block with a triangle within a circle drawn on it that supports an urn. A group of Masonic tools, a book (likely a Bible), a compasses, a mallet, and a level, are at the bottom of the block. The figure on Colling’s jewel, dressed in robes and sandals in a classical style, could possibly represent Fortuna, the Roman goddess of fortune, chance, and luck.  She was usually identified by the attributes of a ball, wheel, or cornucopia.

In the early 1800s, the Masonic virtues of faith, hope, and charity, were sometimes represented by female figures shown with particular attributes. Faith carried a cross or Bible, Hope held an anchor, and Charity nursed or carried children. For his mark, engraved on the other side of the medal, Colling selected the virtue of hope (at left, below). The craftsman who engraved Colling’s jewel depicted hope as a woman on the shore, with a ship in the distance, gesturing upward and stepping on a large anchor half obscured by her skirt. At the top of the jewel, the craftsman engraved a square, compasses, and Bible. At the tip of the shield, he depicted a shovel, pick, and rod, the working tools of the Royal Arch degree.

An adept engraver decorated Colling’s medal using a number of techniques such as, line engraving, roulette work, and stipple. Although the name of this engraver is unknown, we hope further research will help uncover more about the craftsman who ornamented this jewel. If you have any suggestions or ideas about this medal, please leave them in the comment section below.

Many thanks to Joseph Patzner of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library at the Grand Lodge of New York.

 

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Mark Medal Made for Thomas Colling, mark side, 1817-1830, New York. Museum Purchase, 2018.017a. Photograph by David Bohl.

A Past Master's Jewel from London

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Past Master’s Jewel Made for Robert Scholl, 1819-1820. Probably London, England.  Museum Purchase, 97.025.1.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Last month we posted about a Past Master’s jewel in a style that was distinct to the Boston area.  In the past, we’ve talked about examples of a popular style of Past Master’s jewel that was widespread in New England in the early 1800s. Made around the same time as these jewels--but in a entirely different style--is this jewel (at left), crafted for London Freemason Robert Scholl (ca. 1781-1832).

Listed as a gentlemen in membership records, Scholl worked as a Navy agent, with chambers at Clement’s Inn, in the early 1830s.  He was initiated at the Lodge of Union No. 275 in 1814 and served as Master of his lodge before 1820.  

To thank him for his service in that role, Scholl’s brethren at the Lodge of Union commissioned this gold and enamel jewel.  They had Scholl’s jewel inscribed with a heartfelt message (see below), noting that the elegant badge was, “...a testimony of their fraternal Regard — their Personal attachment and the Sense entertained by them of his exertions for the Benefit of the Lodge.”  Scholl’s jewel is like a watch or locket in that the decoration on the front is protected by a glass bezel.  The bezel covers elements cut from gold in the shape of a square and compasses and a sun. A border of leaves, likely laurel, surrounds the symbols.  All of the gold elements are detailed with engraving to give them depth and definition. The symbols appear to float over a background patterned by machine turning and enameled dark blue.  The deep color contrasts with the bright gold symbols.  An engraver added the inscription on the back of the jewel.  Using the pin on the back, Scholl would have worn this jewel on his coat.  

What extraordinary service Scholl may have undertaken for his lodge is not known, but this handsome jewel suggests how highly this brothers at the Lodge of Union valued his contributions.   

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Inscripton on the back of a Past Master’s Jewel Made for Robert Scholl, 1819-1820. Probably London, England.  Museum Purchase, 97.025.1.  Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 

References:

Lane’s Masonic Records, version 1.0. (www.hrionline.ac.uk/lanes, October 2011), Published by HRI Online Publications, ISBN 978-0-955-7876-8-3.

Library and Museum of Freemasonry; London, England. “Freemasonry Membership Registers 1751-1921,” “Register of Admissions: London, B, #275-648.” “Robert Scholl,” Folios 1 and 2, ancestry.com. 

Robson’s London Commercial Directory for 1830, (London, England: Robson, Blades & Co.), Part II, Commercial Directory, SHE-SHU, n.p.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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.

 


New to the Collection: Jared Sandford’s Mark Medal

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Mark Medal, 1809-1817. Probably New York. Museum Purchase, 2016.009.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

From time to time, we have the chance to post about interesting new additions to the collection at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library—today a silver mark medal from the early 1800s.

Previous posts have discussed mark medals, an intriguing form of Masonic material culture.  When taking the mark degree, a new Mark Master Mason selected a symbol that was personally meaningful to be recorded as his unique mark next to his name in the lodge records.  Some men chose an emblem that represented a value important to Freemasonry, such as charity or equality.  Other men recorded symbols with personal meanings, like the initials of their name or attributes representing their profession.  Some Mark Master Masons commissioned engraved silver or medal badges decorated with their personal emblems.  A few lodges, like Holland Mark Lodge in New York City, required that members have these badges made.

An engraver decorated one side of this medal with the owner’s name, Jared Sandford and a depiction of an incomplete arch.  At the top of the medal, the engraver detailed the Masonic symbols of a square and compasses with a sprig of acacia, a ladder and a plumb.  On the other side, the engraver outlined an all-seeing eye near the hanging ring and a cherub’s head at the bottom of the medal.  Between these two elements, the craftsman engraved the mnemonic associated with the Mark Master degree in ornate letters in a circle.  Within the circle, the engraver delineated what appears to be a distinctive tool used by doctors in the early 1800s. 

Doctors and surgeons used this handheld and hand-powered tool, a small circular saw called a trephine, to cut out small circles of bone, often from the skull.  Removing a portion of skull bone could help speed the healing of a head injury by relieving pressure on the brain.  The engraver who portrayed this trephine included distinctive details such as the small spike at the center of the circular blade that helped hold the saw in place.  He also showed the small lever on the side of the tool that controlled the height of the spike.  This control helped keep the spike from injuring the brain as the surgeon cut away bone with the saw. 

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Mark Medal, 1809-1817. Probably New York. Museum Purchase, 2016.009.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

A trephine is an unusual tool to be selected as a mark.  Because a trephine is a medical device, it was likely a meaningful object to a Mark Master Mason who had a special understanding its use—a surgeon or doctor. A man named Jared Sandford, who was born in Southampton, New York in 1774 and died in 1817, and was a doctor in the town of Ovid, Seneca County, New York, appears to be a likely candidate to have owned this medal.  Further research will, hopefully, uncover information about Jared Sandford’s Masonic membership.

If you have ideas or suggestions about how to learn more about this medal, be sure to leave them in the comment section below. 

 

Many thanks to Catherine Walter, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library, Grand Lodge of New York for helping identify the trephine.

 


A Thomas Harper Jewel

Thomas Harper jewel GL2004.3158Among the many treasures in the collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts on extended loan to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is this jewel manufactured by London silversmith Thomas Harper (ca. 1744-1832). Harper, a prolific and skilled smith, produced a variety of Masonic jewels in the late 1790s and first decades of the 1800s, including officers’ jewels, mark jewels and presentation jewels.  An active Freemason and an officer for the Antient Grand Lodge, he played a role in bringing together the Antients and the Moderns to form the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813.  Today collectors prize his work.  In honor of Harper’s many accomplishments as a craftsman and as a Mason, in 1996 a group of British brethren founded a Lodge of Research named in his honor

How this jewel became part of the collection of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts is not known.  Hallmarks date it to 1811.  Its design—an oval in which much of the silver has been cut away (a technique called piercing) to form the shapes of several Masonic symbols—is one Harper produced many times.  An engraver outlined, detailed and embellished each of the emblems—a square, compasses, a level, plumb rule and a maul—on the jewel.  Cut glass stones set in silver ornament the hinge of the compasses, as well as form the bobs on plumb rule and level.  Pierced jewels, with only thin pieces of metal connecting different elements are fragile.  This one is missing a trowel that used to span the space between the right hand leg of the compasses and the rim.  You can view  jewels similar to this one as well as others Harper made in the collections database of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, at the United Grand Lodge of England.

Intriguingly, long before Harper made this jewel or founded his London business as a Masonic jeweler, he lived in the American colonies.  In the 1700s he made his home in Charleston, South Carolina, the biggest and most prosperous city in the South at the time. There he advertised as a jeweler, goldsmith and seller of imported jewelry and silversmith’s tools. Researchers have noted that he was involved in Freemasonry in Charleston; he served as Junior Warden for Lodge No. 190 in 1774.  The likely-London born Harper (the place and date of Harper’s birth are not clear) chose not to join the colonists in their fight against the British government and, as a consequence, left South Carolina for the Dutch West Indies with his family (which eventually grew to include over ten children) in 1778.  The richest and most interesting information about Harper’s career in Carolina comes from the 1780s petition he made for lost property to the British government.  Among the losses he claimed were a small house and 465 acres outside of Charleston, an enslaved man who worked in his business, uncollected debts and four years of unrealized work as a silversmith.  Harper valued his losses at over four thousand pounds.  In spite of having a taken a sizeable financial hit early in his career, Harper rallied.  He established himself as a silversmith in London in the 1790s and worked in that trade until his death in 1832.   

Photo:

Jewel, 1811, Thomas Harper (ca. 1744-1832), London, England.  Collection of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.3158.

References: 

E. Milby Burton, South Carolina Silversmiths 1690-1860, Rutland, Vermont: The Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1968.

Canada, Loyalist Claims, 1766-1835, ancestry.com.

Timothy Kent, “Thomas Harper (1736-1832), Masonic Jeweller and the Jewels of His Period,” Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (2004), 103-115.

Timothy Kent, “Thomas Harper, Masonic Jeweller and the Jewels of His Period,” Silver Studies (2005), 13-17.


What’s My Line? Occupation-Related Symbols on Mark Medals

2013_054_3 name sideSome time in the early 1800s, Cornelius P. Vrooman (1784-ca. 1821), a member of Middleburgh Mark Lodge, Middleburgh, New York, commissioned this silver shield-shaped medal.  It is a recent addition to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library's collection.  The maker incorporated important Masonic symbols into the form of Vrooman’s medal--the square, compasses and open Bible at the top of the shield.  Engraved details like the print on the Bible pages and the outline of the compasses’ legs help delineate the symbols.  On one side of the medal (illustrated to the left), the craftsman detailed Vrooman’s name and the name of his lodge as well as a keystone marked with the mnemonic associated with the Mark Master degree, HTWSTTKS.  On the other side (illustrated below), within the border of a circle, the engraver incised the mnemonic in ornamental script.  The circle contains Vrooman’s mark, a man with a scythe. 

As noted in previous posts, the emblem selected by the owner of a mark jewel represented something meaningful to him.  Mark Masons chose different kinds of emblems, from patriotic and Masonic symbols, to initials or family crests.  In addition, many Mark Master Masons decided on representations of their occupation or profession as their personal symbol.  Vrooman’s emblem appears to be one such, the man and a scythe likely denoting a farmer.  If an anecdote retold in a 1870s gazetteer can be believed, Vrooman was indeed a farmer.  In a description of the Vrooman family, the gazetteer's author noted that the four Vrooman brothers “were remarkable for their strength.”  As an example, the author related that Cornelius “was accustomed to carry one or two bags…on his shoulders, to favor his horse, when going to Albany with a load of wheat.” 

2013_054_3 mark sideAnother example of an occupation-related mark can be found in the record for Rev. Alpheus Harding (1780- 1869), whose mark of a lamb and cross spoke to his job as a religious leader.  This mark is noted in the mark book kept for King Hiram Royal Arch Chapter of Greenwich, Massachusetts.  (You can read previous posts about this beautifully illustrated record and its illustrator.)  Other examples of symbols connoting professions appear in the late 1700s and early 1800s records of Washington Royal Arch Chapter of Middletown, Connecticut.  Members of a mark lodge associated with the chapter often dictated a motto to go with their symbols, leaving a clue as to what their choice of mark represented to them.  For example, William Hall (dates unknown), recorded a knife as his mark and his motto as “amputation,” suggesting he might have been a surgeon.  Charles Magill (dates unknown) selected a brig as his mark and, for his motto, “navigation.”  His fellow member, Noadiah Hubbard, Jr. (b. 1765), accompanied the motto “husbandry” with a plough for a mark.  Another member, recorded in the 1820s, claimed a trowel as his mark along with the motto, “the implement of my profession.”  Taken together these occupational marks offer an intriguing glimpse into the professional landscape of early 1800s mark lodges.

References:

James R. Case, August W. Von Hagen and Oswald H. Johnson, Early Records of Washington Chapter (6) Royal Arch Masons, of Middletown, Connecticut, Reproduced by Xerography on the 175th Anniversary (Hartford, Connecticut:  Bond Press, Inc.), 1958.

Hamilton Child, Gazetteer and Business Directory of Schoharie County, New York, for 1872-1873. (Syracuse, New York:  Hamilton Child), 1872, p. 115.

Photo credits:

Mark Medal, 1807-1821. Probably New York. Museum Purchase, 2013.054.3. Photos by David Bohl.


An Exciting Recent Acquisition: Frederick Phile's Maverick Mark Medal

2013_019DP1DBHere at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, we are big fans of the personal medals and badges some Masons had made for themselves in the late 1700s and early 1800s. You may have read posts about the mark medal that belonged to Ezekiel Bascom and an associated mark book or saw the post discussing a gold Masonic medal owned in Connecticut. Although the museum counts many personal Masonic medals in its collection, we are always on the lookout for new objects to help us tell the story of American Freemasonry. A few months ago we were thrilled to add a mark medal made for Frederick Phile of Holland Mark Lodge and engraved by "Bror. Maverick" to the collection.

Frederick Phile (ca. 1740-1793) of Philadelphia likely commissioned the medal when he received the Mark Master degree at Holland Mark Lodge in New York City, sometime between 1788, when members of Holland Lodge No. 8 established Holland Mark Lodge and 1793, when Phile died. Records detailing Phile’s Masonic activity are sketchy, but he seems to have taken the Entered Apprentice degree at Lodge No. 2 (Moderns), in Philadelphia in 1760. He worked as a physician until around 1770, when he took on the duties of naval officer for the Port of Philadelphia; a position Phile held, in different capacities, on and off, until his death. During the Revolutionary War, Phile, a German-born naturalized citizen of Great Britain, served as a surgeon for a Pennsylvania battalion. Although Holland Mark Lodge drew most of its membership from Holland Lodge, occasionally out-of-town Masons, like Phile, who had not taken the Mark Master degree elsewhere would pay the fee (24 shillings in 1791) and receive the degree at Holland Mark Lodge. In 1791, for example, the lodge granted the mark degree to Masonic travelers from France and Rhode Island.

2013_019DP2DBAs part of the ritual for the Mark Master degree, the initiate chose a distinct mark or emblem. The lodge secretary noted this unique mark in his records. For his emblem Phile selected a heart over three crossed arrows. This symbol doubtless held meaning for Phile, but we have not been able to identify what this symbol might have represented. Holland Mark Lodge required that, "Every member shall furnish himself with a Mark which shall be of Silver, with the Name of the Lodge engraved thereon." As described in a research note published in the Transactions of the American Lodge of Research, from 1788 to about 1800, Holland Mark Lodge members recorded their marks with both a written description and an impression of their engraved mark in the lodge’s minute book.

Of the over thirty mark medals in the museum’s collection, only Phile’s is signed by an engraver. The "Bror Maverick" who incised his name under Phile’s on this silver disk is thought to be Peter Rushton Maverick (1755-1811), a member of both Holland Lodge and Holland Mark Lodge. Phile’s medal is one of six known that were crafted for members of Holland Mark Lodge. One, also signed by Maverick, is at the Smithsonian Institution; the museum at the Grand Lodge of England holds another and two form part of a private collection. The library of the Grand Lodge of Iowa counts Peter Rushton Maverick’s own 1789 mark medal as part of its collection. A history of Holland Lodge relates that Peter Rushton Maverick, who joined the lodge in 1789, cut a seal for Holland Lodge the year before. He also engraved maps, bookplates and Masonic certificates, among other things. The museum holds a certificate, estimated to date from around 1790, for Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 and attributed to Peter Rushton Maverick, in its archives. We are now glad to be able to include another example of Maverick’s work in our collection.

Photo credits:

Mark Medal, 1788-1793. Engraved by Peter Rushton Maverick (1755-1811), New York, New York. Museum Purchase, 2013.019. Photos by David Bohl.

References:

Balestier, Joseph N., Historical Sketches of Holland Lodge (New York, New York: Holland Lodge No. 8, 1862), 40-41, 156

Tows, Ferrars, H., "The Holland Mark Lodge Book," Transactions of the American Lodge of Research, Vol. III, No. 2, 1939-1940, 404-5

Sesquicentennial Commemorative Volume of Holland Lodge No. 8 (New York, New York: Holland Lodge No. 8, 1938), 21-24.

Newell, Aimee E., 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), 101, 113.

Sachse, Julius F., Old Masonic Lodges of Pennsylvania "Moderns" and "Ancients" 1730-1800, (Philadelphia: Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, 1912-1913), Vol. 1, 76.