Welcome to Trevor Harris’s Masonic Medals Newsletter No. 2. Here you will find many of the latest discoveries in the fascinating world of Masonic Medal collecting.
Although this edition has a distinctly Scottish theme, we start with an extremely important American jewel, Union Lodge No. 5 was formed at Horse-neck, Connecticut USA on the 18th November 1764. However you will not find Horse-neck on any modern map, as it became known by the more familiar name of Greenwich around the year 1800.
The lodge was formed under The Provincial Grand Lodge of New York and Bro. Sylvanus Waterbury was appointed its first Master. In 1821 the lodge moved to Stamford, Connecticut where it still meets.
Most of the lodge’s earliest records have been lost, but on its list of members in 1780 you will find Bro. Jabez Fitch, who is recorded as a member. Bro. Fitch was appointed SW from 1783-85, and served as Master from 1785-88 and again from 1798-1801.
He was a Captain in the Revolutionary Guard and also the Greenwich Town Clerk and Registrar. At regular meetings of the The Provincial Grand Lodge of New York, he would have met and spoken with George Washington.
The jewel above would have been presented to Bro. Fitch when he first became Master in 1785. The name Horse-neck is inscribed on the jewel as Hors Neck.
Now to Scotland. It is well known that Royal Arch Chapters meeting under the Grand Lodge of Scotland have their own style of Chapter Jewel, showing a Catenarian Arch and Altar instead of the six pointed star seen in England.
These jewels were pierced, with the reverse side usually blank and un-engraved (see Fig. a next page). However by 1840 changes were being made and solid Royal arch jewels were now appearing, with a Catenarian Arch on the obverse and a six pointed star on the reverse, thus getting the best of both worlds (see Fig, b). These are illustrated below.
The jewel illustrated below as (Fig. b) dates from 1840 and belonged to Rear Admiral Sir David Milne. This was his personal Royal Arch Chapter jewel.
There is a third type of jewel (Fig. c) often mistaken for a Royal Arch jewel, however it is not a Royal Arch jewel at all, but a jewel from The Excellent Master’s Degree, although it does have connections with the Royal Arch degree which it pre-dates.
The year 1939 saw the bi-centenary of The Provincial Grand Lodge of Glasgow and a special jewel was issued to mark the event (Fig d).
This jewel was made in bronze and are quite scarce. What is not generally known is that a small number were made in hallmarked gold and enamel and were bought by dignitaries.
Due to their high cost, very few of these gold and enamel jewels were produced. In fact the number generally accepted is less than ten. This makes examples in gold extremely rare.
Both bronze and gold examples are illustrated on the next page (Figs. d and e). The gold jewel illustrated was owned by The Lord Provost of Glasgow.
The Antients Grand Lodge and Deacons. It is well documented that the Antients Grand Lodge was responsible for the introduction of Deacons at lodge meetings. Generally speaking, the Premier Grand Lodge or Moderns resisted the use of Deacons until the United Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1813.
What did these Antients Deacon’s jewels look like? They were certainly very different from the Dove of Peace seen today, and were in fact the figure of Hermes, which was in many ways quite fitting, as he was the patron and protector of travellers, as well as being known for his speed.
The early deacons jewel was basically a statue of Hermes, made of silver, and worn from a collar (Fig. f). This jewel has a Chester hallmark for 1790. Later jewels, introduced around the year 1800, were more “modern” looking and two dimensional see (Fig g), which has a London hallmark for 1811.
London Rank. It is nearly impossible to visit any lodge in the London area without seeing at least one person who is a holder of London Grand Rank.
When the honour was first introduced in 1908, London Grand Rank was unheard of, and the honour was simply known as London Rank.
What is interesting though is the absolute scarcity of jewels issued before 1920. I have checked with the Library and Museum at Great Queen Street, and in their huge collection the earliest London Grand Rank jewel they have is dated 1914. Why this should be I have no idea.
In 30 years I have only come across two London Grand Rank jewels dated 1908, one in silver-gilt, and one in 18ct. gold (Fig.h). There must be other 1908 jewels out there, but I have never seen another.
This gold jewel was presented to W. Bro. Joshua J. Holnes by the Officers and Brethren of West Smithfield Lodge No. 1625 in June 1908.
I hope you have found reading this newsletter interesting. If you have a medal or jewel you would like to see illustrated in a future edition of this Newsletter, please email a scan with as much information as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collecting Masonic Medals is truly a fascinating hobby.