ILLUSTRATIONS OF MASONRY
Edited by Professor Andrew
Price: 30.00 GBP (44.00 USD) and free shipping.
Published by Academy Electronic Publications Ltd.
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William Preston's "Illustrations of Masonry" is one of the most
descriptions of Freemasonry ever published, and a vital text for anyone
seeking to understand the character and ideology of Freemasonry in the
The CD-ROM includes:
1. The text of 9 editions produced in England during Preston's
2. Intuitive interface for browsing and searching the editions.
3. Exploration of the text's evolution across the 9 editions.
4. Introductory analyses & digitized images of the 1788 edition.
"Preston's Illustrations of Masonry" is an electronic edition on CD-ROM
which makes available for the first time the texts of all the extant
editions produced in England in his lifetime (a total of nine editions:
1772, 1775, 1781, 1788, 1792, 1796, 1801, 1804, and 1812).
All the texts are completely searchable, allowing the user easily to access
the mass of information in the different editions of Preston's work on
subjects as varied as Masonic ritual, the use of music in Masonic
ceremonies, and the early history of Freemasonry in America and Britain.
Users are also able to compare the different editions of the
"Illustrations", and to explore how Preston's view of Freemasonry was
elaborated through the successive editions of his book. Comparison of the
various editions throws into sharp relief the sometimes startling changes
which Preston introduced into his work to support his position in the
various disputes with the Grand Lodge of England in which he became
A short introduction analyses the differences between the various editions.
Digitized images of the original 1788 edition are also included.
Sales of the Preston CD-ROM are used to fund a collaborative program of
research publications by the publisher, Academy Electronic Publications, and
the Centre for Research into Freemasonry (further details at
20% of all
sales is returned to the Center for its own research programs.
The origins of the "Illustrations" lay in a 1772 lecture by Preston
analyzing the symbolism and moral significance of the initiation ceremony
and the first degree. The book was a bestseller, and, as it passed through
successive editions, Preston developed his vindication of Freemasonry into a
powerful piece of writing which has profoundly influenced the character of
Freemasonry up to the present day. Preston describes various Masonic
ceremonies, and also provides a history of Freemasonry which remains an
indispensable source for English Masonic history.
As Preston developed his work, it changed from a book intended primarily to
help Freemasons improve their knowledge and practice of Freemasonry into one
aimed at a wider public, seeking to show how Freemasonry could teach
important lessons to the whole of mankind. Preston's work was published
German translation as early as 1776, and an American edition was produced in
1804, which played a fundamental role in the development of American
William Preston was born in Edinburgh in 1742, and was apprenticed as a
printer there, but, on completing his apprenticeship, went to London with
letters of recommendation to the King's Printer, William Strahan.
rose to become the manager of Strahan's company, the pre-eminent London
publishing house of the time, and in 1804 Strahan's son, Andrew, made him a
partner in the firm. Through his connection with Strahan, Preston was
acquainted with such eminent figures as Edward Gibbon and Samuel Johnson.
died in London in 1818.
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