Exploring The Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library

with Elena Llamas, Director of Public Relations for

The Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library

"There are pleasures in the act of accumulation: the thrill of the hunt, the joy of the find.  But true collecting is more.  It's listening for the hum of history in things, finding connections among art and objects of different times and cultures, and gathering images so that, as in poetry, they reveal new meaning."

Hello! Welcome to the first installment of articles designed to help you explore Phoenixmasonry’s archives. I will section each aspect of Phoenixmasonry and focus on one thing at a time in these installments in order to delve deep into all that Phoenixmasonry has to offer. First off will be the Museum’s collection.

Phoenixmasonry is the preserver of numerous Masonic artifacts of historic and current value. Phoenixmasonry also provides information on extraordinary Masonic artifacts from other collections. Because Phoenixmasonry’s online collection of artifacts is so extensive, I will give you an overview today and I look forward to exploring particular artifacts from each of Phoenixmasonry’s categories in future installments.

The museum was established to bring to the Brethren and the visiting public the rich heritage of Masonic Artifacts and Collectibles that were created and produced to commemorate many special Masonic events. Lodge Dedications - Cornerstone Ceremonies, Anniversaries, Officer Installations, State and National Conventions were all marked and remembered by these presentation pieces which were made in glass, china, porcelain, wood, metals, coins and medallions.

Today, Phoenixmaosnry’s collection is divided into Blue Lodge Artifacts, York Rite Artifacts, Scottish Rite Artifacts, Artifacts from The Shrine of North America, and Artifacts from Masonic Youth Groups and Various Other Bodies. Each one of those categories is further divided into types of artifact. For example, you will find a link to all Scottish Rite Historic Coins and Medallions and another link for Historic Blue Lodge Aprons.

Since this is an introductory overview of the collection, I will show you five of my favorite artifacts from different sections of the Museum.

GEORGE WASHINGTON’S MASONIC OSTRICH EGG

   

   

   

This is a most unusual and rare item--a folk art decorated ostrich egg dated 1852 worked in finely incised detail with an image of George Washington and an abundance of Masonic symbolism. The egg measures 8 inches high and about 4.5 inches in diameter. The following words are engraved on the egg: "General George Washington, Fredericksburg Virginia, 1752-1852, Lodge No. 4." It was mounted on a wood block with an inset copper coin depicting the pyramid found on the back of the Great Seal of the United States and on the back of the one dollar bill. The base seems to be a recent addition to the piece. It appears that the egg was commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of George Washington's Masonic initiation into Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 in Virginia. The egg is currently being exhibited at the Fredericksburg Area Museum along with objects owned by Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4.

1800s MASONIC FOLK ART QUILT

   

Here is what Sotheby's "Important Americana" catalogue (January 28, 29 and 30, 1988) says about the bottom quilt: "Unusual Appliqued Cotton 'Masonic' Quilt, Ohio, circa 1880, composed of red, yellow and green printed and solid patches with various Masonic symbols and bands of stars, all mounted on a white cotton ground with feather, cable, wreath and diagonal line quilting. Approximately 76 by 76 in. It goes on: In giving expression to so much of what was important in their lives, women covered many "subjects" in their quilts. Using the traditional format of red and green appliqués, the maker of this quilt created a piece full of Masonic symbols to celebrate pride in her husband's fraternal affiliation. Masonic symbols march along the border and frame Masonic emblems just as a classical swag border would surround a more traditional appliqué design. The quilt maker's red, orange and green hearts, stars and moons (each with symbolic meaning to the Masons) add great spirit and vitality to the quilt, suggesting a very whimsical, folk-art quality. Classical feathered wreaths, a traditional appliqué quilting pattern, add rich texture to this personal, vibrant quilt.

The wonderful Masonic Folk Art Quilt pictured above is now in the museum collection of the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Mass.  You can visit their museum on-line at:  http://www.monh.org/

EASTERN STAR TEDDY BEAR

Not every item in the Museum is old or an antique! Sometimes curators see things that are destined to become Museum pieces and that is what this beautiful little Eastern Star Bear will be someday. The bear was an eBay find. The seller, Susan Brach, trades under the name of "masonicbear" on eBay.

OLD CABINET CARDS

I love the cabinet cards in Phoenixmasonry’s collection! Cabinet cards were a style of photograph, which was widely used after 1870. The technique consisted of mounting a thin photograph on a card typically measuring 4 14 by 6 12 inches. The Cabinet Card above features a proud York Rite Mason.

 

WINSTON CHURCHILL’S MASONIC APRON

Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was Initiated into Studholme Lodge 1591 on 24 May 1901 at a time when Freemasonry was a fashionable social pursuit in England. The election of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) as Grand Master in 1875 gave a huge impetus to Freemasonry. As the Prince of Wales, he had been an exceedingly popular Royal and Grand Master, and brought with him a host of other Royals and aristocrats who gladly joined the Craft.

View the Museum collection online at http://www.phoenixmasonry.org/masonicmuseum/tableofcontents.htm

 

 

                  

               

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