Saturday, November 19, 2022

‘Scottish Freemasonry Symposium, Part II'

Before delving into the content of the presentations at the Scottish Freemasonry in America Symposium of two weeks ago, I’ll share several dozen photos from the guided tour of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial we attendees enjoyed. (I’m not procrastinating. These Magpie posts take time.)

First, the view of the Memorial from the north windows of the Magpie’s suite. Freemasonry’s origins are lost in the mists of antiquity, and the Memorial was lost in the fog.

The famous statue. Bro. Bryant Baker’s big bronze looms in Memorial Hall.
It was dedicated in 1950 by President Harry Truman.

The Alexandria Washington Lodge 22 meeting room.
This sign was posted at the lodge’s previous meeting hall from 1804 to 1944.

Tracing Board of the EA°.

For the FC°.

And for the Sublime Degree.

Where the magic happens.

In the West. Note the placement of J&B.

The desk often has negative connotations, such as being a place of frustrating inactivity, but I bet the lodge secretary doesn’t mind sitting behind this one.
(‘I really just like to be at a desk.’ — Tom Stoppard.)

‘In the midst of Solomon’s Temple there stands a G,
A Letter fair for all to read and see,
But few there be that understands
What means that Letter G.’
— Masonry Dissected

And then there is Ye Olde Lodge Meeting Room.
There is an elegance to the small furniture.

The Three Great Lights of Freemasonry.
The Square must have been a Master’s collar jewel at some time.

The Master’s Pedestal.

Speaking of desks, if your Treasurer or Secretary complains about his, just show him what his ancestors had to work with!

This is described at the Memorial as a scarf. The Museum of Freemasonry in London has something similar, which it calls a snuff handkerchief. As much as you wouldn’t imagine unclogging your honker of GAOTU only knows what into a silk piece decorated with our symbols after indulging in a pinch of snuff, it is true that Masons of old adorned all kinds of items with the images of the Craft.

Don’t sit down.

I feel like Jeremy Cross himself gave direction when this was painted.

Replica of the apron presented to George Washington, after victory at Yorktown in 1781, by two merchants in France in recognition of ‘glorious efforts in support of American liberty.’ Bears some resemblance to the Mt. Nebo Apron, n’est-ce pas?

Replica of the gavel Washington employed in the cornerstone dedication of the U.S. Capitol in 1793. The original is custody of Potomac Lodge 5 in the District of Columbia. New Jersey’s research lodge once possessed a replica too, a gift from MW David A. Chase, who set us to labor. Sadly, someone ‘borrowed’ it years ago when we met in the Trenton Temple.

Various exhibits abound inside the Memorial. Here is a fiftieth anniversary loving cup, and a gorgeous specimen too, from Kane Council 2 of Royal and Select Masters in New Jersey. Kane would have reached its 162nd anniversary next Saturday, but its charter was revoked recently. I’ll be exposing that ugliness in an upcoming edition of The Magpie Mason.

Ceramic pitcher from Liverpool, England.
I’m imagining many servings of punch. Vivat!

I love the porcelain and ceramic and glass pieces of yore.
Masonic material culture today is so chintzy and uninspiring. 

St. Paul’s Lodge 481 commissioned this pipe tobacco humidor to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in 1911. Beautiful piece, and I’m not just editorializing because of my fondness for the pipe! See photos of an identical jar here. Like the Kane Council cup, this, and a whole lot of other Masonic ceramics, were manufactured in Trenton, New Jersey.


These punch bowls are found in Masonic museums up and down the East Coast,
and elsewhere, I’m sure. Made in China during the 1790s.

Good fire!

Glass flask.

Scrimshaw carving on bone or ivory was popular among sailors back in the day.

I’ll guess this is an English apron circa 1800. I forgot to take note of the identifying card that surely was next to this.

Aprons made of simple paper are used at meetings that draw large groups to accommodate all those who didn’t bring their own regalia. President Franklin Roosevelt (Holland Lodge 8) had two sons, James and Franklin, Jr., who were raised in Architect Lodge 519. This must have been a wing ding. In attendance were the Grand Master, Mayor LaGuardia, several state Supreme Court judges, and other dignitaries.

Ahiman Rezon originally was the book of constitutions of the ‘Ancients’ Grand Lodge circa 1751. In America, when home grown grand lodges began to organize in the former colonies, some of those identifying with the Ancients chose Ahiman Rezon as the title of their respective constitutions (e.g. Pennsylvania, South Carolina, maybe others). This text is the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania’s printed in 1783. What does the term mean? You’ll find different explanations in Masonic literature, such as the Hebrew for to help a brother or something similar. Im going with Shawn Eyers explanation: ‘Both Ahiman and Rezon are names from the Bible. In fact, the Biblical character Ahiman appears in the Ahiman Rezon, which lets you know immediately that all those who claim it is a mystery what Ahiman means have not bothered to read the book and don’t know their Bible.’

Sigh. Book publishing in the nineteenth century.

This beer can was left in the attic during construction of the Memorial in the 1930s.

There are other statues of Washington about the Memorial. New Yorkers ought
to recognize this one from its gilded twin inside the Hollender Room of Masonic Hall.

In the Louis A. Watres Library, they found space for Mark’s new book.

And, in closing, the ‘view’ that morning from the observation deck.


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