Tuesday, February 23, 2010

‘Bling and things’

Masonic Week 2010: Toye USA

The generous and gracious underwriter of what was to be The Art of Initiation is Toye USA, the brand new subsidiary of Toye, Kenning & Spencer, Ltd., maker of jewels and regalia for the British royal family for the past 325 years.

With a sizable display staffed by Michael Seay and Charles Toye himself, the firm introduced itself to the American Masonic market. Michael can be reached at:  mike.seay@toye.com

Bro. John and Bro. Christopher check out the goods at Toye USA’s display at Masonic Week 2010 earlier this month. (More on Bro. John and his wares tomorrow.) And yes, that is a miter in the background!

I have bad news for the existing suppliers of Masonic regalia and supplies: Toye USA is going to clobber you. Macoy, Simpson, Klitzner, Luther, LAFSCO – all of you – have been selling inferior goods at premium prices for years, but now you have a competitor who will take your clientele away by delivering beautiful products at competitive prices. Oh, and their wares are manufactured in Britain, not China.

The photos speak for themselves:

As above: The Master Mason apron frequently seen in lodges in Britain, and increasingly in the United States, in lodges that are allowed to choose their own regalia without a uniformity mandated by their grand lodges. The brethren of John’s Lodge No. 1 in New York City wear this apron.

So below: Another such lodge is Lodge Vitruvian No. 767 in Indianapolis, Indiana, which adopted several characteristics of the European Concept movement. Note the officer collar as well. (Sorry for the shadow. Unavoidable, thanks to the nearby window.)

As above: The English Royal Arch grand rank apron. Also seen elsewhere in the English-speaking Masonic world. Please do not think that Toye provides only English regalia. They specialize in bespoke craftsmanship, and will make your regalia according to your specifications.

So below: You didn’t think I’d miss the 18° apron of Rose Croix, did you?

Two aprons – Top: Mark Master Mason. Bottom: Royal Ark Mariner.

Collars, clockwise from right: Rose Croix, Kadosh & another Rose Croix.
Below: Close-up shot of Knight Kadosh collar.

Above: A variety of Ark Mariner, Order of Secret Monitor, Royal Arch,
Rose Croix, Royal Order of Scotland and other interesting specimens.

Above and below: Assortments of breast jewels and badges.

Toye USA makes custom pieces for lodges. Above: Publicity Lodge No. 1000 in New York City commissioned these jewels and cufflinks for its members. Mounted on the card at top are lapel pins in the style worn by the Masonic Rosicrucians: a simple round pin on a protruding rosette. Red is for Independent Royal Arch Lodge No. 2, and orange is for Holland Lodge No. 8, both in the First Manhattan District of the Grand Lodge of New York.

As above: Cufflinks in the blue of Craft Masonry.
So below: The rainbow of Royal Ark Mariner.

Actually, these photos do not speak well for themselves. The lighting was impossible, due to the display tables being set next to the windows, resulting in all kinds of shadows and yellow glare. And besides, one truly must hold these objects. There is a tactile pleasure to be enjoyed. The weight of the metals, and the lustre of their colors and enameling. The thickness of fabrics, and intricacies of embroidery. The faithfulness to symbols, and creativity of designs. Really wonderful.

P.S.     I hate the word bling. Hate it.

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