1868 Sterling Silver
Mark Master Keystone
This early sterling silver keystone has a hidden fold-out opening with the engraved names of what appears to be a father and son. It is hand-made and bears the mark of the Triple Tau in the center of the Keystone!
The Mark medal is a sacred token of the rites of friendship and brotherly love which are a solemn obligation of the Mark Master degree. The Mark medal may be pledged for a favor or act of friendship, but must be redeemed before it may be pledged again. Unlike lodge jewels, which were symbols of office, Mark medals were personal possessions retained by Masons, and [they] did not appear in American Masonic usage until about 1795. The Mark medal was worn suspended from the neck by a yellow ribbon, at one time the distinctive color of the Mark degree. The medal was usually made of coin silver or silver plate, although rare examples of gilt copper and even gold are known. On one side was engraved a personal design, or 'mark,' that identified the owner. ... The reverse side bears the owner's name, the name of his Mark lodge, and the date of his exaltation to the degree."
The Tau Cross, or Cross of St. Anthony, is a cross in the form of a Greek T. The Triple Tau is a figure formed by three of these crosses meeting in a point, and therefore resembling a letter T resting on the traverse bar of an H. This emblem, placed in the center of a Triangle and Circle--both emblems of Deity--constitutes the jewel of the Royal Arch as practiced in England, where it is so highly esteemed as to be called the "emblem of all emblems," and "the grand emblem of Royal Arch Masonry." It was adopted in the same form as the Royal Arch badge, by the General Grand Chapter of the United States in 1859. The original signification of this emblem has been variously explained. Some suppose it to include the initials of the Temple of Jerusalem, T. H., Templum Hierosolymae; others, that it is a symbol of the mystical union of the Father and Son, H, signifying Jehovah, and T, or the cross, the Son. A writer in Moore's Magazine ingeniously supposes it to be a representation of three T-Squares, and that it alludes to the three jewels of the three ancient Grand Masters. It has also been said that it is the monogram of Hiram of Tyre; and other assert that it is only a modification of the Hebrew letter shin, which was one of the Jewish abbreviations of the sacred name.
The Keystone was placed in the center of an arch which preserves the others in their places, and secures firmness and stability to the arch. As it was formerly the custom of Operative Masons to place a peculiar mark on each stone of a building to designate the workman by whom it had been adjusted, so the Keystone was most-likely to receive the most prominent mark, that of the Superintendent of the structure. Such is related to have occurred to that Keystone which plats so important a part in the legend of the Royal Arch Degree. The objection has sometimes been made, that the arch was unknown in the time of Solomon. But this objection has been completely laid to rest by the researches of antiquaries and travelers within a few years past. Wilkinson discovered arches with regular keystones in the doorways of the tombs of Thebes, the construction of which he traced to the year 1540 B.C., or 460 years before the building of the Temple of Solomon. And Doctor Clard asserts that the Cyclopean gallery of Tiryns exhibits lancet-shaped arches almost as old as the time of Abraham. In fact, in the Solomonic era, the construction of the arch must have been known to the Dionysian Articifers, of whom, it is a freely received theory, many were present at the building of the Temple.
Holy Royal Arch Jewel #1
Both of these beautiful pins at one time were probably neck jewels that hung from a ribbon or watch fobs. They have been reworked with clasps to be lapel pins. What is interesting about both of them is that they reflect the Masonic membership of two owners. Both pins are custom made and hand engraved by an early jeweler with the Keystones and Marks of Royal Arch Masons. These are York Rite degrees in Freemasonry. They are nicely made and tributes of one Freemason to another. They are both gold however the craftsmanship in both pieces are worth more than the gold. Jewel #1 above belonged to Brother and Companion George E. Clark who was a member of Oriental Lodge No. 385 and Jerusalem Holy Royal Arch Chapter No. 3. Both Lodge and Chapter are located in Philadelphia, PA. The front of the jewel has the Holy Royal Arch supported by the pillars of Boaz and Jachin with the Pot of Incense on top of the Ark of the Covenant. On the back, inside the keystone, is Bro. Clarks Mark... a statue of George Washington clothed as a Freemason standing on a pedestal. My hunch is that Bro. George Clark was named "George" because of George Washington who was our first President and a Freemason as well. There is much more symbolism involved especially with the use of many working tools. This jewel is dated on the bottom edge May 23, 1870.
Holy Royal Arch Jewel #2
Jewel #2 above belonged to Brother and Companion D. H. Gausman who was a member of Phoenix Royal Arch Chapter No. 198 in Phoenixville, PA. The front of the jewel has the Holy Royal Arch supported by the pillars of Boaz and Jachin with the Pot of Incense on top of the Ark of the Covenant. On the back, inside the keystone, is Bro. Gausman's Mark... a deer or an Elk symbolic that he may have been a deer hunter or even held dual membership in the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. The back of this jewel has the Holy Royal Arch supported by the pillars of Boaz and Jachin with the Pot of Incense on top of the Ark of the Covenant.
We would like to give a special "Thank You" to Brad Kull for sharing his photos of these beautiful jewels with our museum.
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