A Freemason in the United States of America is said to be properly clothed when he wears white leather gloves, a white apron, and the jewel of his Masonic rank.
The gloves are now often, but improperly, dispensed with, except on public occasions. "No Mason is permitted to enter a Lodge or join in its labors unless he is properly clothed.'' Lenning, speaking of Continental Freemasonry, under the article Kleidung in his Lexicon, says that the clothing of a Freemason consists of apron, gloves, sword, and hat. In the York and American Rites, the sword and hat are used only in the Degrees of chivalry. In the catechisms of the early eighteenth century the Master of a Lodge, was described as clothed in a yellow jacket and a blue pair of breeches, in allusion to the brass top and steel legs of a pair of compasses. After the middle of the century, he was said to be "clothed in the old colors, namely, purple, crimson, and blue"; and the reason assigned for it was "because they are royal, and such as the ancient kings an d princes used to wear. "
The actual dress of a Master Mason was, however, a full suit of black, with white neck-cloth, apron, gloves, and stockings; the buckles being of silver, and the jewels being suspended from a white ribbon by way of collar.
(For the clothing and decorations of the different Degrees, see Regalia. )
Brother Preston (Illustrations of Freemasonry, 1772, page 235) describes the dress of the Brethren when "properly clothed" for public processions. He says "All the Brethren, who walk in procession, should observe, as much as possible an uniformity in their dress. Decent mourning, with white stockings, gloves and aprons, is most suitable and becoming; and no person ought to be distinguished with a jewel, unless he is an officer of one of the Lodges invited to attend in form, The officers of such Lodges should be ornamented with white sashes and hatbands; as also the officers of the Lodge to whom the dispensation is granted, who should likewise be distinguished with white rods." One of the earliest accounts of Masonic clothing and regalia in a procession on Saint John's Day is recorded in Faulkner's Dublin Journal (January 10-4, 1743--l, and on pages 98-9, Freemasonry in Ireland, Brothers Lepper and Crossle, 1925):
Saint John's Day, celebrated by the Lodge in Youghall (Ireland), No. 21.
lmprimis, ....The first Salutation on the Quay of Youghall, upon their coming out of their Lodge Chamber, was, the Ships firing their guns With their colors flying. ....Secondly. The first appearance was, a Concert of Musick with two proper Centennials with their Swords drawn. ....Thirdly. Two Apprentices, bare-headed, one with twenty four Inch Gage, the other a Common Gavel. ....Fourthly. The Royal Arch carried by two excellent Masons. ....Fifthly. Master with all his proper Instruments, his Rod gilt with Gold, his Deputy on his left with the Square and Compass. ....Sixthly. The two Wardens with their Truncheons gilt in like manner. ....Seventhly. The two Deacons with their Rods gilt after the same manner. ....Eighthly. Two Excellent Masons, one bearing a Level, and the other a Plum Rule. ....Ninthly. Then appeared all the rest most gallantly dressed, following by Couples, each of them having a Square hanging about his Neek to a blue Ribbon. From the Quay, they took the whole length of the Town, the Streets being well lined, the Gentlemen and Ladies out of their Windows constantly saluting them, until they went to Church. The two Sentinels stood at the Pues, holding the Doors open, until the Whole went in. And after Divine Service, came in the same Order, to their House of Entertainment, where at the Approach of Evening, the Windows were illuminated with Candles, and the Street with Bonfires. They were greatly applauded, and allowed to be the finest and most magnificent Sight that was ever seen in this Country.
An early reference to the clothing of the Brethren in the United States is in the By-laws adopted by the Lodge at Boston, Massachusetts, on November 14 and October 24, 1733. The thirteenth and fourteenth regulations read es follows:
Xlllthly. The Master of this Lodge, or in absence, the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master or Wardens, when there is a private Lodge ordered to be held for a Making shall be obliged to give all the Members timely notice of the time and place in writing where such Lodge is held that they may give their attendance and every member being duly warned as aforesaid and neglecting to attend on such private Making shall not be Clothed.
XIVthly. No member that is absent from the Lodge of a Lodge night when there is a Making, shall have the Benefit of being Clothed for that time.
Brother Melvin M. Johnson comments on the foregoing rules in his Beginnings of Freemasonry in America (page 107), "'Being Clothed' refers to the very ancient custom, now forgotten, of requiring the candidate to furnish each member present with an apron and a pair of white gloves" (see Clothing the Lodge).
At a celebration of the Festival of Saint John the Baptist, reported in the Boston Gazette for July 2, 1739, and also given by Brother Johnson in the above work (page 222) we learn that, At three in the Afternoon They assembled at the House of their Brother John Wagbom, from whence they walked in Procession to His Excellency's House, properly Clothed, and Distinguished, with Badges, and other Implement pertaining to the several Orders and Degrees of the Society, proceeded by a complete band of Music consisting of Trumpets, Kettle Drums, etc.
The American Apollo, a magazine printed in Boston, had an account of the procession in verse by Joseph Green, who tells us of the visit to the House of Brother Wagborn, Here, having drank and giv'n the sign, By which he was oblig'd to join, From hence in leather apron drest With tinsel ribbons on their breast In pompous order march'd the train, First two, then three, then two again.
The lines wind up with an allusion to the decorated ship, Hallowell, of which Brother Alexander French was part owner and in command. This vessel, trimmed with red baize on top and with colors hoisted, was given a peculiarly Masonic significance.
And on the mizzen peak was spread, A leather apron, lin'd with red. The men on board all day were glad, And drank and smoked like any mad. And from her sides three times did ring Great guns, as loud as anything, But at the setting of the sun, Precisely ceas'd the noise of gun, All ornaments were taken down, Jack, ensign, pendant, and Apron.
A further mention of the clothing is seen in the lines written by Green to burlesque the celebration of Saint John the Evangelist's Day at Boston, December 27, 1749. These lines are entitled Entertainment for a Winter's Evening, and alluding to the public procession to and from church of the Freemasons the author speaks of them as "in scarlet aprons dressed," see the verse in this work under the heading of Sermons, Masonic. We need not speculate too curiously about the use of scarlet aprons at the time.
The suggestion may however be offered that the apron so lined was capable of being used either side to the front according to the Body or Degree in which the wearer participated. Aprons in certain cases are still so worn though not usually in connection with the first three Degrees of the Craft (see also Regalia).
The modern regalia and clothing, as for example those approved by the Constitutions and Regulations of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, as shown in the Revision adopted in 1918, may here be appropriately given. The references to saltire, or saltier, being an expression in heraldry meaning cross-wise, as in the letter x.
The Jewels of the Grand Officers shall be as follows:
That of the Grand Master, the Compasses extended to 45 , with the segment of a circle at the points and a gold plate included, on which is represented an eye, eradicated within a triangle, also eradicated.
That of the Deputy Grand Master the Compasses and square united, with a five-pointed star in the center.
That of the District Grand Masters, the Compasses and Square united, with a five-pointed star in the center upon which shall be superimposed a Roman letter D.
Those of the District Deputy Grand Masters, the Compasses extended to 45 , with the segment of a circle at the points and a crescent in the center.
Senior Grand Warden, the Level. Junior Grand Warden, the Plumb. Grand Treasurer, a chased Key. Grand Secretary, two Pens in saltire tied by a ribbon. Grand Chaplains, a Book within a Triangle, surmounting a glory. Grand Marshal, two Rods in saltire tied by a ribbon. Grand Lecturers, an open Book upon the Square and Compasses. Grand Deacons, a Dove and Olive Branch. Grand Stewards, a Cornucopia. Grand Sword Bearer, two Swords in saltire. Grand Standard Bearer, a Banner. Grand Pursuivants, a Rod and a Sword saltire-wise. Grand Organist, a Lyre. Grand Tyler, a Sword.
Each Past Grand Officer may be distinguished by the jewel prescribed for the office he has filled, with this difference, that such jewel shall be fixed within a circle or oval, of gold or metal gilt. It shall be worn over the left breast, pendant to a purple ribbon or metal chain.
It may be suspended from the neck by a purple ribbon when another authorized jewel is worn over the left breast.
The Jewel of each Grand Officer, with the exception of the District Deputy Grand Masters, shall be enclosed within a wreath composed of a sprig of Acacia and an ear of Wheat. The Collars of the Grand Officers shall be chains of gold or metal gilt.
The Apron. of the Grand Master shall be of white lambskin, lined with purple, ornamented with the blazing Sun, embroidered in gold in the center; on the edging the pomegranate and lotus, with the seven-eared wheat at each corner, and also on the fall,-all in gold embroidery, the fringe of gold bullion, with purple edging and strings.
The Apron of the Deputy Grand Master and of a District Grand Master shall be of the same material and lining, having the emblem of his office in gold embroidery in the center, and the pomegranate and lotus alternately embroidered in gold on the edging. The emblem of the District Grand Master shall be within a double circle bearing the name of his District. The Aprons of the other Grand Officers shall be of white lambskin, lined with purple ; edging of purple three and a half inches wide; with purple strings; ornamented with gold, having the emblems of office, in gold, in the center.
Each officer of a Lodge shall wear a blue velvet collar trimmed with silver lace, or a white metal chain collar upon blue ribbon of such pattern or patterns as shall be approved by the Grand Master, from which shall be suspended the jewel of the office in silver. The aprons may bear the emblems of the offices and a fringe of silver.
The Jewels of the officers of a Lodge shall be as follows:
That of the Master, the Square; Senior Warden, the Level; Junior Warden, the Plumb; Treasurer, two Keys in saltire; Secretary, two Pens in saltire; Chaplain, the Bible within a circle; Marshal, a Baton within a square ; Deacons, the Square and Compasses united within a circle; Stewards, a Cornucopia within a circle; Organist, a Lyre within a circle; Inside Sentinel, two Swords in saltire within a circle; Tyler, a Sword within a circle.
The Jewel of a Past Master shall be the blazing Sun within the Square and Compasses extended on a Quadrant. This Jewel may be of gold or silver, and shall be worn over the left breast, pendant to a blue ribbon or metal chain. It may be suspended from the neck by a blue ribbon when another authorized Jewel is worn over the left breast.
The Apron of a Master Mason shall be a plain white lambskin, fourteen inches wide by twelve inches deep. The Apron may be adorned with sky-blue lining and edging, and three rosettes of the same color. No other color shall be allowed, and no other ornament shall be worn except by officers and past officers.
The Grand Encampment of Knights Templar and the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons made a public procession in the City of New York on September 16, 1841. The notice giving the order of the procession as well as the instructions for the clothing of the Brethren is of a considerable degree of interest and appears in the History of the Origin and Development of the Royal Arch Degree, by Charles A. Conover, 1926. That portion which refers to tho clothing of the Brethren is as follows:
All Templars to appear in the following uniform. Dress Black, black stock and gloves, plain black scarf over the left shoulder; Chapeau with black satin cockade, black apron of triangular form, and straight sword. Officers and members of the Grand Encampment to wear the trimmings of the Chapeau, apron and sword of Gold, all others of Silver. No feathers to be worn by any one. Royal Arch Masons ro appear in black hat and stock, dark coat, white vest, pantaloons, and gloves, whits apron, trimmed with scarlet, scarlet sash over the left shoulder and black cane. Presiding Officers of Chapters in Chapeaus trimmed with scarlet and gold. Master Masons to appear in black hat and stock, dark coat, white vest, pantaloons, and gloves, with white apron trimmed with blue, blue sash over the left shoulders .
The Master of each Lodge to wear Chapeau trimmed with blue and silver, and the Gavel in his hand. The three Committees appointed by the three Grand Bodies are to act as Marshals to their respective Grand Bodies in the uniform of their constituents, with Chapeaus and swords, and are to be distinguished by a thin white rod and acorn, with bow of ribbon of three colors (Blue, Scarlet, and Black), and a Rosette of five inches, of the same three colors on the left breast. Each subordinate Body will appoint two Marshals to assist the Grand Marshals, to be distinguished by a truncheon or scroll, trimmed with ribbon of the color of his grade.
An early reference to Aprons is in the Book of Constitutions (1738, page 153). On March 17, 1731, it was resolved that "Masters and Wardens of particular Lodges may line their white Leather Aprons with "white Silk, and may hang their Jewels at white Ribbons about their Necks." Article xxiii also records that "The Stewards for the Year were allowed to have Jewels of Silver, tho not guilded, pendent to Red Ribbons about their Necks, to bear White Rods, and to line their White Leather Aprons with Red Silk. Former Stewards were also allowed to wear the same Sort of Aprons, White and Red."
Laurence Dermott (Ahiman Rezon, 1764) gives a regulation of Grand Lodge that blue or purple, is the peculiar badge of Grand Officers. However, he states that he "is certain that every member of the Grand Lodge has an undoubted right to wear purple, blue, white or crimson." From this time blue seems the Masonic color except for Grand Stewards, who wear crimson.
Another exception was the Grand Lodge at York, which used only white and pink; no other color is named. In the schedule of January 1, 1776, of Grand Lodge Regalia, we read ''one Grand Master's Apron, five Aprons lined with pink silk and ten common Aprons," and again in 1779, "An Apron for the Grand Master, four Aprons lined with pink silk, five Aprons."
None of the early Aprons had tassels and Brother Fred J. W. Crowe declares it is certain that these were never intended, as is so frequently asserted, to represent the two great Pillars. He says they are neither more nor less than the ends of broadened strings ornamented with fringe and that the fringe on the Apron is coeval with fringing the ends of strings.
Down to the Union in 1813, many engraved, painted and embroidered Aprons were in common use. At the Union, however, the clothing under the United Grand Lodge of England was clearly laid down. The same Apron was sometimes used for the Craft and Royal Arch during the eighteenth century, the distinguishing mark being the binding of purple and crimson when used for the latter.
The Collar was originally a simple ribbon supporting the jewel of office. This ribbon was white in 1727, except in the case of Stewards, when it was red.
But in 1731 it was ordered that Grand Officers wear their jewels of gold suspended from blue ribbons.
From the ribbon has gradually evolved the broad, decorative collar worn so generally in Great Britain.
Gloves were a part of the Freemason's clothing from the earliest time, but gauntlets, although Brother Crowe says these were undoubtedly worn before the Union, were only comparatively recently authoritatively laid down as a part of the regalia.
In Scotland, the clothing of Grand Lodge and of Provincial and District Grand Lodges is of thistlegreen, doubtless from the color used in the national Order of the Thistle; but private Lodges may select any color they please, and may also add a considerable amount of ornament and embellishment, which is usually on the fall or flap. This fall in Scottish Aprons is circular, not triangular as in English and American Aprons. The Grand Lodge in 1736 ordered that the jewels of the Grand Master and Wardens shall be worn "at a green ribbon." Embroidered Aprons with Officers' emblems were introduced in 1760, and in 1767, the "garters," which in the days of knee-breeches formed part of the regalia, and the ''ribbands for the jewels" were ordered to be renewed. Sashes for office-bearers were adopted in 1744, jewels in 1760. The Lodge of Dundee wore white Aprons in 1733, and the Lodge of Edinburgh in 1739 ordered "a new blew ribband for the whole five jewels."
In Ireland, most Lodges wear very simple cotton Aprons, edged with blue, and bearing the number of the Lodge, but at their annual Festivals, the Brethren wear lambskin Aprons almost identical with the English Master Mason's Apron, except that there is a narrow silver braid in the center of the ribbon. The Grand Lodge Clothing is of the same color, with gold fringe, but the bottom of the fall is squared off, and curiously enough, there are no tassels. The rank of the wearer is indicated by the number and width of the rows of gold braid. Although the Grand Lodge of Ireland was formed in 1725 or earlier, there has never been any regulation as to Clothing in its Constitutions, the only authority, until quite recently, being in a book entitled Clothing and Insignia, with colored plates, first published in 1860. Brother F. C. Crossle says that in days gone by the Worshipful Master in many parts of Ireland, if not everywhere, was always attired in a red cloak and top hat, and this custom had obtained even within the memory of living Brethren, although now obsolete.
The only jewels which may be worn in English Craft Lodges are those of Craft and Royal Arch Masonry, including Past Master, Past Zerubbabel, Grand and Provincial Lodge jewels, Presentation jewels of Craft or Royal Arch offices, Founders' jewels and Charity jewels. All others are illegal.
In Denmark all the Brethren wear small trowels; that of the Entered Apprentice is of rough silver on a string of leather, that of the Fellow Craft of polished silver on white silk, that of the Master Mason of gold on a blue ribbon. Brethren who have taken Degrees above the seventh, wear a special attire in Bodies of their own Order, which is not allowed to be seen by Brethren of the lower Degrees.
In the case of the Grand Lodges of Norway and Sweden, the Clothing is practically identical with that of Denmark. It also includes a Collarette, trowel, and an ivory key. The latter is still worn in many Grand Lodges as it was once in England, and a reference to it is found in some old ''catch'' questions of the Fraternity. In Sweden, the brotherhood is so highly esteemed, that it has its own Order of Knighthood, that of Charles XIII, and membership of the higher Degrees also carries civil nobility. Under the Grand Orient of France the Aprons are elaborately embroidered or painted, and edged sometimes with crimson or with blue. Blue embroidered Sashes, lined with black for the Third Degree, are in common use.
In ltaly, the Entered Apprentice Apron is a plain white skin; the Fellow Craft has one edged and lined with green, and with a square printed in the center; the Master Mason wears one lined and edged with crimson, bearing the square and compasses. Master Masons also wear a handsome sash of green silk, edged with red, richly embroidered in gold, and lined with black silk on which are embroidered the emblems of mortality in silver. Members of the Third Degree can wear more elaborately ornamented Aprons.
In Greece, Master Masons formerly wore silk or satin Aprons, painted or embroidered, and edged with crimson, with a beautiful sash similar to that worn in Italy, but of blue and red instead of green; later on the clothing became identical with that worn in England.
In Holland, a custom similar to that in Scotland prevails, and each Lodge selects its own color or colors for the clothing and the ribbons to which seals are attached. Considerable additional ornament in embroidery, painting, fringes, etc., is freely employed at the pleasure of the Lodge or the individual.
In Belgium, the Grand Lodge clothing is of light blue silk bordered with gold fringe, and without tassels. The collars are embroidered in gold with the jewel of the office to which they pertain, and with acacia and other emblems.
In Switzerland, under the Grand Lodge Alpina, the clothing is simple. The Entered Apprentice Apron is of white leather, and only varied from the English one in having the lower corners round. That of Fellow Craft has blue silk edging and strings. The Master Mason Apron has a wider border, with three rosettes on the body of the Apron, whilst the flap is entirely covered with blue silk ; a small blue sash, with a white rosette at the point is also worn with this. The Apron of a Grand Officer is edged with crimson, and has neither tassels nor rosettes, except in the case of the Grand Master, distinguished by three crimson rosettes; the collar is of crimson watered ribbon, edged with white, from which is suspended the jewel, a gold square and compasses, enclosing a star, on which is enameled the white Geneva Cross on a red field, the shield of the Republic. Each Lodge has its own distinctive jewel.
In Hungary, the members of the Grand Lodge wear collars of light blue watered silk, with a narrow edging of red, white and green-the national colors- from which is suspended a five- pointed star, enameled in the center with a number of emblems, and bearing the inscription Magnus Latom Hunc Coetus Symbolicus.
The Grand Officers wear collars or orange-colored ribbon, with a narrow edging of dark green, lined with white silk, and embroidered with the emblem of office and acacia leaves. The Aprons are simple, with blue edging, and, for Master Masons, three rosettes; that of the Grand Master is the same.
In Germany, the various Grand Lodges exhibit considerable variation in size and shape of Aprons; some are diminutive, others large, whilst the shape varies, square, rounded or shield- shaped. Some bear rosettes, others levels, the latter even on the Entered Apprentice Apron, so that obviously their symbolism is not the same as in England, where they designate Past Masters only. Each German Lodge possesses its own distinctive jewel.
Under the Grande Oriente Nacionale of Spain, the Entered Apprentice Apron is of white leather, rounded at the bottom, but with a pointed flap, worn raised; that of Fellow Craft is identical, the flap being turned down; the Master Mason Apron is of white satin, with curved flap, edged with crimson, and embroidered with square and compasses, enclosing the letter G., the letters M.'. and B:. and three stars. The Apron is lined with black brocaded silk, and embroidered with skull, cross-bones and three stars, for the Third Degree. The Officers' jewels are identical with those of England. In Portugal, the Grand Officers wear white satin Aprons edged with blue and gold, and with three rosettes. The collar is of blue watered silk embroidered with acacia in gold. The gauntlets have also G. O. L. U., Grande Oriente Lusitania Unido, embroidered on them, with the date of its formation, 1869. The ordinary Craft clothing is simple.
The clothing of the Grand Orient of Egypt is practically identical with that of England, but the colors are thistle and sea-green instead of dark and light blue.
The Organists' jewel is an od, a kind of guitar, instead of a lyre, and the rank of the wearer is indicated by the number of stars embroidered on the collar.
For the above information regarding European procedure we are indebted to a paper by Brother Fred J. W. Crowe (Transactions, 1901-2, page 81, Lodge of Research, Leicester, England; see also American Union Lodge).
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