Masonic Walking Stick

Decorated with Emblems

Gentlemanís fashion through the 1800ís into the earlier third of the 20th century dictated the requirement of a cane with any formal attire.  Popularity soared especially amongst veterans and members of fraternal organizations, such as the Freemasons.  Albert Stevensís Cyclopedia of Fraternities (New York, 1907) estimates that nearly 10 million, of the 76 million turn of the century US population, were members of fraternal organizations. Presented to commemorate, such as the Boston Post traditional presentation of a cane to the oldest citizen of a town, carried as functional supports and means of defense, or coveted as family heirlooms, canes have been part of American society for several hundred years.

 

Not only are canes necessary to ceremony and ritual, members express pride in their groups, military, political, patriotic, religious, sister and brotherhoods, etc through personal possessions. Canes, scepters, and staffs depicted events surrounding the fraternity, many ornately decorated with insignias, symbolism, life events, and badges of honor for the organization. The use of canes as fashion turned towards bragging staffs, lovingly carved or inscribed with details of the life of its bearer.

Hand carved in high relief on this walking stick is the Square and Compasses with the Letter "G".  The Square is one of the most important and significant symbols in Freemasonry.  As such, it is proper that its true form should be preserved.  French Freemasons have almost universally given it with one leg longer than the other thus making it a carpenter's square.   American Freemasons, following the incorrect delineations of Brother Jeremy L. Cross, have, while generally preserving the equality of length in the legs, unnecessarily marked its surface with inches; thus making it an instrument for measuring length and breadth, which it is not.  It is simply the trying square of a stone-mason, and has a plain surface; the sides or legs embracing an angle of ninety degrees, and is intended only to test the accuracy of the sides of a stone, and to see that its edges subtend the same angle.  In Freemasonry, the square is a symbol of morality.   This is its general signification, and applied in various ways:  1.  It presents itself to the neophyte as one of the Three Great Lights.  2.  To the Fellow Craft as one of his Working-tools.  3.  To the Master Mason as the official emblem of the Master of the Lodge.  Everywhere, however, it inculcates the same lesson of morality, of truthfulness, of honesty.  So universally accepted is this symbolism, that it has gone outside of the Order, and has been found in colloquial language communicating the same idea.    The Square, says Halliwell, Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, means honest, equitable, as in "square dealing."  To play upon the square is proverbial for to play honestly.  In this sense the word is found in the old writers.  As a Masonic symbol, it is of very ancient date, and was familiar to the Operative Masons.   In the year 1830, the architect, in rebuilding a very ancient bridge called Baal Bridge, near Limerick, in Ireland, found under the foundation-stone an old brass square, much eaten away, containing on its two side surfaces the following inscription, the U being read as V:  I. WILL STRIUE. TO. LIUE.--WITH. LOUE. & CARE.--UPON. THE LEUL.--BY. THE. SQUARE., and the date 1517.  The modern Speculative Freemason will recognize the idea of living on the level and by the square.  This discovery proves, if proof were necessary, that the familiar idea was borrowed from our Operative Brethren of former days.  The square, as a symbol in Speculative Freemasonry, has therefore presented itself from the very beginning of the revival period.  In the very earliest catechism of the eighteenth century, of the date of 1725, we find the answer to the question, "How many make a Lodge?" is "God and the Square, with five or seven right or perfect Masons."  God and the Square, religion and morality, must be present in every Lodge as governing principles.  Signs at the early period were to be made by squares, and the Furniture of the Lodge was declared to be the Bible, Compasses, and Square.  In all rites and in all languages where Freemasonry has penetrated, the square has preserved its primitive signification as a symbol of morality.

This picture of the walking stick depicts the two Pillars of the Temple Boaz and Jachin with their celestial globes.  Boaz was the name of the left hand, or north pillar, that stood at the porch of King Solomon's Temple.  It signifies "in strength," or in a fuller literal rendering, "in Thee is strength."  Like the other of the two pillars which stood at the porch of the Temple, Jachin by name, this pillar was highly ornamented; but more important was its emblematical import.  Gazing upon the Temple in all its splendor and beauty and perfections, one might naturally transpose the significance of this pillar into the words:  "O Lord, thou art mighty, and thy power is established from from everlasting to everlasting."  It is in this emblematic symbolism that "Boaz" has such an important place in Masonry.

Shown in the above photo are the three columns or pillars of Wisdom, Strength and Beauty.  In Ancient Craft Masonry, Wisdom is symbolized by the East, the place of light, being represented by the pillar that there supports the Lodge and by the Worshipful Master.  It is also referring to King Solomon, the symbolical founder of the Order.  In Masonic architecture the Ionic column, distinguished for the skill in its construction, as it combines the beauty of the Corinthian and the strength of Doric, is adopted as the representative of wisdom.  King Solomon has been adopted in Speculative Freemasonry as the type or representative of Wisdom, in accordance with the character which has been given to him in the First Book of Kings (4:30-32).  

The Pillar of Strength is said to be one of the three principal supports of a Lodge, as a representative of the whole Institution, because it is necessary that there should be Strength to support and maintain every great and important undertaking, not less than there should be Wisdom to contrive it, and Beauty to adorn it.  Hence, strength is symbolized in Masonry by the Doric column, because, of all the orders of architecture, it is the most massive, by the Senior Warden, because it is his duty to strengthen and support the authority of the Master; and by Hiram of Tyre, because of the material assistance that he gave in men and materials for the construction of the Temple.

The third pillar represents Beauty.  Operative Masonry had as its chief objective beauty and symmetry in architecture in the building of King Solomon's Temple; speculative Masonry emphasizes the beauty of character and the virtues of true manhood.  Symbolically, Beauty is one of the three supports of the Lodge.  It is represented by the Corinthian column, the most beautiful of the ancient orders of Architecture; also by the Junior Warden, because he symbolizes the meridian sun, the most beautiful object in the heavens.  Hiram Abif is represented by the Column of Beauty, because the beauty and glory of the Temple were due to his skill.

This photo shows Jacob's Ladder.  The introduction of Jacob's ladder into the symbolism of Speculative Masonry is to be traced to the vision of Jacob, which is thus substantially recorded in the twenty-eighth chapter of the book of Genesis: When Jacob, by the command of his father Issac, was journeying toward Padan-aram, while sleeping on night with bare earth for his couch and a stone for his pillow, he beheld the vision of a ladder, whose foot rested on the earth and whose top reached to heaven.  Angels were continuously ascending and descending upon it, and promised him the blessing of a numerous and happy prosperity.  When Jacob awoke, he was filled with pious gratitude, and consecrated the spot as the house of God.  It is a symbol of progress, its three principal rounds representing Faith, Hope and Charity, present us with the means of advancing from earth to heaven, from death to life--from mortal to immortality.  Hence its foot is placed on the ground-floor of the Lodge, which is typical of the world, and its top rests on the covering of the Lodge, which is symbolic of heaven. 

This picture depicts the "Common Gavel" an instrument made use of by operative Masons to break off the corners of rough stones, the better to fit them for the builder's use, but we as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to use it for the more noble and glorious purpose of divesting our hearts and consciences of the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting our minds as living stones for that spiritual building - that house not made with hands - eternal in the heavens.

This picture depicts the Twenty-four Inch Gage, a rule two feet long, which is divided by marks into twenty-four parts each one inch in length.  The Operative Mason uses it to take the necessary dimensions of the stone that he is about to prepare.  It has been adopted as one of the working-tools of the Entered Apprentice in Speculative Freemasonry, where it divisions are supposed to represent hours.   Hence its symbolic use is to teach him to measure his time so that, of the twenty-four hours of the day, he may devote eight hours to the service of God and a worthy distressed Brother, eight hours to his usual vocation, and eight hours to refreshment and sleep.  In the twenty-four inch gage is a symbol of time well employed, following as best we can the example of the lines told to us by Longfellow in the Psalm of Life:   Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime, And departing leave behind us, Footprints on the sands of time.  The Masonic essence of the lesson is ability, preparedness and readiness, recalling the suggestion of William Shakespeare to the workmen in Julius Ceasar (act 1, scene i, line 5), "Where is thy leather apron and thy rule?  What dost thou with thy best apparel on?" 

There is no one of the symbols of Speculative Masonry more important in its teachings, or more interesting in its history than the lambskin, or white leather apron.  Its lessons commence at an early period in the Mason's progress, and it is impressed upon his memory as the first gift which he receives, the first symbol which is explained to him, and the first tangible evidence which he possesses of his admission into the Fraternity.  The color of a Mason's apron should be pure and unspotted white.  It appears certain that the use of an apron or some equivalent investiture, as a mystic symbol, was common among the ancients,  In ancient Israel the girdle formed a part of the investiture of the priesthood, and for the ordinary priest it was of plain white.  The superior orders of the priesthood were adorned with highly ornamented girdles.  In the mysteries of the Mithras, in Persia, the candidate was invested with a white apron.  The Jewish sect of the Essenes clothed their novices with a white robe.  Like other portions of the Masonic ritual, the ceremony of clothing the newly initiated candidate with a white apron of lambskin belongs within the veil of antiquity.  In the Hebrew religion and in Christianity, even as in many other sects, white has always been an emblem of purity.  The lamb has always been considered as an appropriate emblem of innocence, and hence we are taught, in the ritual of the first degree that "by the lambskin," the Mason is reminded of "that purity of life and rectitude of conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe forever presides."  The apron becomes his personal property as "the badge of a Mason."  As he advances in Masonry he will receive other aprons of varying types, but never one that equals his first one in the emblematic significance and Masonic value.

Shown here is the "Trowel", an instrument made use of by operative Masons to spread the cement which unites the building into one common mass; but we as Free and Accepted Masons, are taught to use it for the more noble and glorious purpose of spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection; that cement which unites us into one sacred band, or society of friends and brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree.

Above, the "Three Burning Tapers" symbolically represent the Sun, Moon and Worshipful Master and are placed in a triangular position about the Altar and are thus explained:  As the Sun rules the day, so does the Moon govern the night, and so should the Worshipful Master, with equal regularity, endeavor to rule and govern the Lodge.

A Special "Thanks" to John R. Bushnell who provided the pictures of this wonderful cane!  John said that this cane has been in his family for many years and remembers it when he was a child and that they were not allowed to play with it.  He thinks that maybe his grandfathers side of the family were Masons and originated from there.

 

         

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