by Dr. Lori Verderame
The history of the Freemasons, also known as the Masons or the Masonic Order, is controversial, secret, and very, very interesting.
Masonic collectibles and related memorabilia come in many varieties. People who are interested in all things Masonic collect hats, costumes, swords, Staffordshire ceramics, documents, coins, costume jewelry, serving trays, pins, drinking glasses, mechanical banks, silk aprons, pocket knives, calling cards, cuff links, tobacco jars, beer steins, teacups, silk flags, cabinet cards, early photographs, books, Limoges porcelains, and the list goes on. There are many collectible items hosting the highly recognizable Masonic emblem of the square, compass and prominent letter “G” (for God and Geometry accordingly) recognizing the Masons. At my appraisal events where I appraise and authenticate lots of Masonic items, people have shown me rare objects like a master’s carpet which is a teaching aide/emblem chart used to educate apprentices into the secret society, glassware with Masonic symbols etched into it, and highly decorated presentation swords highlighting the Freemason society’s good works.
What to Look For
There are many Masonic lodges worldwide and with every group, there are a good number of related collectible objects. Some collectors collect Masonic items by specific lodge, region, group, or area.
Look for collectibles that relate to the different levels of service in the Masonic order from novices/apprentices to masters. Some ways to spot Freemasonry collectibles that were only meant for apprentices is to look for the positioning of the compass and square. If they are in front of or behind one another, that suggests a certain level of achievement in the order. This is a tell tale clue for collectors of objects. Search for objects that relate to the high ranking officials of the 33 order or other secret aspects of the group.
Masonic items that are hidden within other items are very rare and highly desirable like orbs that open up into cross pendants with Masonic emblems on them or the clocks and pocket watches made by the Dudley Watch Company of Lancaster, PA that had inner workings featuring Masonic symbols.
Amassing a Masonic collection is expensive as the collectible items are actively sought after and there are a lot of Masonry collectors looking for unique pieces.
Get an online appraisal of your Masonic collectibles from Dr. Lori.