Yosemite National Park

Raise a glass to the season! Happy Holidays from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

Happy Holidays from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library!  At this celebratory time of year, thoughts turn to festive beverages of all types.  The next time you visit the Museum, you may want to take a look at some of the special vessels we have on display in “Prized Relics:  Historic Souvenirs from the Collection.”

Covered CupMany years ago this wooden cup (pictured at left) held festive beverages made with alcohol, sugar and spices mixed to share on special occasions.  Originally, this vessel likely had a bowl adorning the handle on the middle of the lid, as well as small cups—made from the same material as the large cup—arranged on small pegs set into the lid.  You can see a similar example here.  Celebrants filled their small individual cups from the large shared standing cup.  Although quite stylish in its day, this type of wooden vessel eventually fell out of fashion. Even when it was out of date, worn and missing pieces, this cup was saved. The cup’s association with Pieter von Stoutenburg (1613-1689/9), a prominent resident of New Amsterdam, likely contributed to its preservation.

Members of Grecian Lodge of Lawrence, Massachusetts, made this blue and white punch bowl (pictured at right) part Grecian Lodge punch bowlof their ceremonial occasions from the 1890s into the twentieth century.  Age and damage eventually rendered the bowl too fragile to be used, but it was preserved at the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts as a tangible part of Grecian Lodge’s history. 

A member of Saint Paul Lodge in Groton, Massachusetts, John Walton (1770-1862) of Pepperell, Massachusetts, gave this huge decorated pitcher (pictured below) to his lodge (a staff favorite, you can read more about it here). A lodge history suggested that members may have used the pitcher to fuel toasts “that Records tell us were frequently drank.”  Decades later, Walton’s gift served as a striking table decoration at special events. In the 1850s, the elderly Walton attended selected lodge ceremonies, where his brothers feted him as an original member and living link to the lodge’s founding in the late 1700s.  Walton also presented the silver ladles displayed in the same case to Saint Paul Lodge. Unlike the pitcher, which Walton purchased new, these ladles—old-fashioned in style by the time Walton presented them—may have belonged to Walton before he gave them to his lodge. Crafted by well-known Mason and  Walton pitcher and ladles in gallerysilversmith Paul Revere (1734-1818) and connected to the lodge’s early history, the lodge valued these ladles as “unique and notable” treasures in later years.   

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, we wish you all the best from the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

Photo credits: 

All pictured in “Prized Relics:  Historic Souvenirs from the Collection.”

Covered Cup, 1600s.  Possibly Netherlands.  Gift of Mr. Lawrence B. Hunt, 77.73a-b.

Punch Bowl, 1893-ca. 1900. Maddocks Lamberton Works (1893-1924), Trenton, New Jersey. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.7703.

Pitcher, 1802.  Wedgwood, Staffordshire, England.  Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.10165.

Ladles, 1760-1780. Paul Revere (1734-1818), Boston, Massachusetts.  Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.1869 and 2088.


December Programs at the Museum

Come join us during this festive month of December for public programs suited to the holiday season.

Yosemite This Saturday, December 4th, Museum staff will offer a gallery talk in our exhibition, “Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight U.S. National Parks in Focus.” Learn more about photographer Quang-Tuan Luong, the man behind these stunning worlds of natural beauty, as well as his techniques and his artistic project. Find us in the "Treasured Lands" gallery at 2 p.m. for this free talk.


Trainshow Mark your calendars so you and your family don't miss the annual December Model Train Show. It will be held Saturday, December 11, 10 AM–4:30 PM and Sunday, December, 12 Noon–4 PM (special hours). The HUB Division of the National Model Railroad Association never fails to delight fans large and small with their model train display, so gather neighbors, grandchildren, and friends for this event. Admission: $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members); $5/individual.

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum!


Photo credits: Yosemite National Park, California, January 2002. Quang-Tuan Luong. © by the artist; courtesy National Heritage Museum.


Are the National Parks Better in Stereo?

88_38_25DI1 Andrew Stereo cards, also known as stereographic or stereopticon cards, were among the most popular photographic media in the United States from the 1860s to the 1930s.  A stereo card consists of two virtually identical photographs of a given subject that are mounted side-by-side on a rectangular card.  When viewed through a special device known as a stereoscope, the two images would project a single, larger, three-dimensional image of that subject.  The National Heritage Museum has almost 200 stereo cards in its collection, including several that depict national parks in the western United States.

Both of the stereo cards pictured here show scenes from Yosemite National Park in California.  The first shows the Fallen Monarch, a deceased giant sequoia tree that can still be seen today in Mariposa Grove at Yosemite.  The card was published in 1908 by the Keystone View Company, one of the leading American suppliers of stereo cards in the early twentieth century.

This stereo card is a relatively uncommon example, because it is a hand-colored photograph.  Photographers in the late nineteenth century occasionally hired artists to tint a black-and-white image with watercolors, oil paints, or dyes.  While hand-coloring was something of a novelty for American photographers, it was very popular in Japanese studios during this period.

The second card, published in 1867 by the noted early Western photographer Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916), also shows a view of Mariposa Grove at Yosemite.  Typical of the stereo cards of the American West in the Museum’s collection, it is not hand-colored and does not depict any people.  Instead, its primary focus is the majesty of the Western landscape.  Although there were no true national parks in 1867, when this photograph was taken, California had already set aside part of the Yosemite Valley as a state park.  In 1890, Congress established Yosemite as a national park.88_38_62DS1 Andrew

Viewing stereo cards was a common pastime during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Many upper- and middle-class Americans living in that period owned a stereoscope.  Ultimately, however, stereo cards declined in favor of newer technology. Handheld cameras like the Kodak Brownie, invented in 1900, allowed anyone to take snapshots of their favorite scenes.  By the time that the Keystone View Company ceased its regular production of stereo cards in 1939, motion pictures were already enormously popular with the American public.  Stereo cards were unable to compete with the social, cultural, and audiovisual experience of going to the movie theater.
To see photographs of the national parks as they appear today, please visit our current exhibition, Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight U.S. National Parks in Focus, which is on view through October 17, 2010.


Burns, Ken, and Dayton Duncan. The National Parks: America's Best Idea. New York: Knopf, 2009.

Gilbert, George. Photography: The early years: a historical guide for collectors. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1980.

Runte, Alfred. National Parks: The American Experience. 3rd ed. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

"The Kodak Brownie at the Franklin Institute." The Franklin Institute History of Science and Technology. The Franklin Institute, 2010, http://www.fi.edu/learn/sci-tech/kodak-brownie/kodak-brownie.php?cts=photography-recreation, accessed March 31, 2010.

"Welcome to Carleton Watkins Stereoviews." Welcome to Carleton Watkins Stereoviews, http://www.carletonwatkins.org/, accessed February 28, 2010.

Top: The Fallen Monarch, Mariposa Grove, 1906, Keystone View Company, Pennsylvania, New York, Oregon, United Kingdom, Australia; collection of the National Heritage Museum, Gift of William Caleb Loring, 88.38.25.

Bottom: In the Mariposa Grove, 1867, Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916), California, collection of the National Heritage Museum, Gift of William Caleb Loring, 88.38.62.