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Heraldry, Masonry And

Heraldry in Britain was an art or science, professed by learned specialists and officials, with its foundation in civil law. A coat of arms was in essence a patent in the firm of pictures and devices, it was an official and attestation about a family's origin and past; and since special privileged often of large value, might go with such an origin, a coat of arms was more than a badge or a decoration; just as a deed was a legal Charter confirming ownership of a property, a coat of arms was a deed confirming ownership in certain honors, privileges, and titles. Since the Constitution of the United States recognized the existence of no classes or titles, heraldry in America has been either a hobby or a minor branch of the arts.

The Grand Lodge of England (1717) adopted as its seal the old seal of the Masons Company of London; Laurence Dermott adopted for the Ancient Grand Lodge (1751) a seal which he found in a work by Jehudah ben Leon, a Hebrew scholar for whom he felt a great reverence; perhaps the device thus chosen also recommended itself because it contained a plain hint of the Royal Arch Degree. Each of the Grand Lodges in the United States has an official seal; some are designed according to the strict rules of heraldry; others are intended to be so, but without any strictness in the rules; still others are rather wide departures from that art. one of the seals that have been used by California, and the seal of New York are similar to the Ancient Grand Lodge seal.

Landscapes are used in Montana, Vermont, Kansas, North Dakota the Montana picture suggesting High Hills and Low Dales, the North Dakota suggesting Fords of the Jordan. Great Pillars are conspicuous in the designs used by Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and some nine or ten others. In some designs the Pillars are surmounted by Globes, in others are not. Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and Utah have two Pillars joined at the top by a round arch; Wisconsin has the Five Orders of Architecture. These lists are suggestive, not exhaustive, and the designs are subject to change. Two blunders are repeated in some ten or twelve designs: inch marks on the square, which make it a carpenter's square; and dividers used where compasses were intended.

See illustrated essay on "The Heraldry of Masonry," by Walter F. Meier, P. G. M., page 3; Masonic Papers; Research Lodge, No. 281; Seattle, Washington; 1943. John Ross Robertson has a characteristically scholarly chapter on Masonic heraldry in his History of Freemasonry in Canada. For general works see: Heraldry, Historical and Popular, by Charles Boutell; 3rd Ed.; illustrated; Richard Bentley, London, Eng.; 1864. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, by Arthur C. Fox Davis; Dodge Pub. Co.; New York. Heraldry in America, by Eugene Ziebler; Bailey, Banks & Biddle Co.; 1895. For an account of the seals of Canadian Grand Lodges see The Builder; August, 1929; page

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