New England Glass Company

Louis Felix's Bell

Felix_bell_higher_resolution_2001_0 Bookkeeper Louis A. Felix (1837-1910) joined Monitor Lodge of Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1859.  He presented this attractive bell to the lodge the following year.

It looks like a cloche or garden bell designed to protect young plants, a product made by American glass companies from the 1810s on.  However, this bell had a different purpose.  Members of Felix’s lodge likely used it to chime symbolic midnight during a Masonic ritual based on the Biblical story of Hiram Abiff’s murder at King Solomon’s Temple.  Crafted from colorless lead glass (instead of green bottle glass) and handsomely engraved, this bell doubtless cost more than the garden variety.

It was a meaningful gift.  Because of the bell’s role in ritual and the Felix's name permanently engraved upon it, Monitor Lodge members likely thought of him at a solemn point in their ceremonies for many years. 

When the museum purchased this bell seven years ago, staff had not seen another like it.  Since then, a similar bell, presented to Revere Lodge in 1871, has come to light.  It forms part of the the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts collection housed at the National Heritage Museum. 

Ritual Bell, ca. 1860. Probably New England Glass Company, East Cambridge, Massachusetts. National Heritage Museum, 2001.078.  Photo by David Bohl.

References: Glass in Early America, Arlene Palmer (Henry Francis Du Pont Winterthur Museum:  Winterthur, Delaware), 1993, p. 392-3. NK 5112 .A1 H46 1993