EXCLIBRES OF MASONS
For a long time, the construction of huge cathedrals continued in the Middle Ages. Builders settled in the immediate vicinity of the construction site, gradually entering into close relations with each other. Over time, these unions formed workshops. The rules for relations between members, the admission of new comrades, and the resolution of disputes were developed. A ceremony was also established for various occasions. The room where they stored their tools was called a lodge. Hence, the brotherhood of builders and their assemblies were called the “lodge”, and their members – free masons (free mason). Then the lodge became known as the main organizational unit of Freemasonry. As you know, the workshops were closed to people of other professions. But from the end of the 16th century, non-construction workers — “outside masons”, rich and scholars who had the idea to use building partnerships as the basis for creating secret isoteric societies — gained access there.
Masons carry out ritual ceremonies and, although there is no single Masonic ritual, many of them are very similar. For example, all Masons use in their rites the architectural symbolism of the tools of medieval masons, especially two of them – a square and a pair of compasses, which are always in the box. Masons should “verify their actions with a square” and “limit their desires and their passions within borders.” But at the same time, among Freemasonry there is no single interpretation of the meaning of these tools. Everyone can reflect on symbols and meaning, which is a necessary condition for advancement in degrees. There are three degrees of Freemasonry: I – a student, II – an apprentice, III – a master – the highest degree necessary for full participation in Masonic life. Some Masons have additional degrees, having numbers, and are considered as applications to the Master’s degree. For example, the Ancient Scottish Charter confers degrees from 4 ° to 33 °. The highest degree is awarded as an honor to the famous Freemasons. There is a huge bibliography of Masonic literature. Among the Masons there were very educated people: doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers, etc. They all had large libraries of Masonic, scientific, and secular literature, and these libraries had possession marks – bookplates. All the foregoing has been said in the past tense only because this article covers book signs, mainly a hundred years ago.
Masonic bookplates are interesting not only to members of the Masonic brotherhood, but also to collectors, bookplate lovers, bibliophiles and historians, because these small engravings indicate not only the book’s ownership, occupation of the owner, but also the Masonic rank and the owner’s belonging to a certain box. Signs can be completely Masonic, on which there are all kinds of emblems and symbols. “Not a specialist, exploring these signs, could receive a humanitarian education in such matters” (W.Prescott. P. 11). Masonic signs often lead the researcher to interesting facts regarding their owners.
The purpose of this article is to introduce examples of the symbolism of fraternity and provide the most necessary knowledge for the study of Masonic book signs.
You will find a large selection of antiques with Masonic symbols in our antique shop Antikzon.
Bookplates of Freemasons An early American Masonic book sign. Silver coat of arms in the style of Chippendale. At the top of the shield is an all-seeing eye, reminding us that we are constantly experiencing the presence of God. Below the blue parallelogram (rhombus) is the shape of the box. Comb — three books. Latin motto is “Ubi plura nitent non ego paucis offendar maculis.” (I am not angry when a few spots flicker in the midst of brilliance. Horace). In the upper right (according to the rules of heraldry) the sun is shining, the personification of the Eternal Light, that is, the Light of Truth.
The sign belongs to Dr. Samuel Danforth (1740-1827) of Boston, a member of the Grand Masons Lodge in Massachusetts. The artist Nathaniel Heard belonged to the Masonic Brotherhood and was the first and most interesting early American engraver of book signs. He was not satisfied with one style, but also showed quite accurately the Jacobin and Gregorian ribbons and flowers. His approximately 40 signed signs and about 15 attributed to him for various reasons were known. This bookplate is the only Masonic made by the author.
bookplates of masons Presumably – this bookplate. The rectangle of the frame with a length twice as wide is the shape of the box. The circle on which the inscription is applied, in the understanding of the Masons, is the infinity of God’s works. The name of the owner Silas Ketchum is written on the upper half of the circle, and the Hopkinton address is written on the lower half. N.H. In the center is a shield divided into four parts. In the first part, a square of a square and a compass with the letter G inside. Its meaning is multifaceted. One meaning is the abbreviated word “Geometr” – the supreme being. It occurs in the second degree of Freemasonry (apprentice).