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Chef-d'oeuvre

French, meaning superior production. It was a custom among many of the gilds, and especially among the Compagnans du Devoir, who sprang up in the sixteenth century in France, on the decay of Freemasonry in that kingdom, and as one of its results, to require every Apprentice, before he could be admitted to the freedom of the gild, to present a piece of finished work as a proof of his skill in the art in which he had been instructed. The piece of work was called his chef-d'oeuvre, or masterpiece.

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