Can you help us solve this mystery?
November 19, 2009
Recently, the National Heritage Museum acquired a set of fraternal jewels, which you can see here (click on the picture for a closer look). The five jewels appear to be part of a set. They are made out of the same metal and have identical pins at the top, with a crescent moon and a five-point star resting on clouds. Each jewel has a different pendant hanging from the top piece: a harp, crossed gavels, scales, an open book and a lantern. They were found in Connecticut, although it is not known if they were originally made or used there.
The jewels do not show any engraving or inscriptions to help us identify the group that initially used them so we are seeking more information. Have you ever seen anything similar? Do you know of a fraternal or Masonic group that uses these symbols?
In the May 2009 issue of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction’s The Northern Light, we published a picture of these jewels and asked the same questions. Prior to this, we received suggestions that the jewels might be from the Daughters of the Nile or the White Shrine of Jerusalem, but comparisons to symbols and jewels from those groups are not conclusive.
Northern Light readers wasted no time in contacting the Museum with suggestions. One reader noted a comparison between the star and crescent on the jewels and at the Odd Fellows cemetery in Ennis, Texas. While similar, the mystery jewels differ significantly from other Odd Fellows jewels in the National Heritage Museum collection. For another reader, the symbols on the mystery jewels called to mind the moon and star seen on jewelry for members of the Dramatic Order of Knights of Khorassan, a group related to the Knights of Pythias. But comparisons between our mystery jewels and the symbols for this group did not turn up a conclusive match. Still another reader suggested that the jewels might be associated with the Moorish Science Temple of America. We welcomed all of the suggestions and continue to search for the answer to this mystery.
If you have any ideas, please write a comment below and let us know.
Set of Jewels for Unidentified Fraternity, 1880-1930. Museum purchase, collection of National Heritage Museum, 2006.010a-e. Photograph by David Bohl.