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Floor-cloth

A framework of board or canvas, on which the emblems of any particular Degree are inscribed, for the assistance of the Master in giving a lecture. It is so called because formerly it was the custom to inscribe these designs on the floor of the Lodge-room in chalk, which were wiped out when the Lodge was closed. It is the same as the Carpet, Or Tracing-Board.

The washing out of the designs chalked upon the floor is seen in the early caricatures of the Craft where a mop and pail are illustrated. These would soon be put aside when Lodges met in carpeted rooms. Then the symbols were shown by marking out the Lodge with tape and nails or shaping the symbols in wood or metal to be laid upon the floor or table or pedestal as the case might be in the Lodge. Such use of separate symbols we have seen in English Lodges, as at Bristol, where the ancient ceremonies are jealously and successfully preserved.

An easy development would be to picture the designs on a cloth to be spread out on floor when in use or folded up for storage. Then there would be the further movement to the stereopticon slides of a similar character, and which find frequent use in the United States. Brother John Harris in 1820 designed and made a set of Tracing Boards for the three Degrees. These designs were never authorized by the Grand Lodge of England, the individual Lodges employed their own artists and the results varied accordingly, though the influence of Brother Harris tended to the uniformity that practically now prevails among Tracing-Board makers. Articles of much interest and value on the subject are "Evolution and Development of the Tracing or Lodge Board," by Brother E. H. Dring (Transactions, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 1916, volume xxix, pages 243 and 275), and "Some Notes on the Tracing Board of the Lodge of Union, No. 3S," bar Brother O. N. Wvatt (Transactions Quatuor Coronati Lodge, 1910, volume xxiii, page 191). The latter article refers particularly to the work of Brother Josiah Bowring, a portrait painter of London, also painted the Boards for the Chichester Lodge in 1811, himself being initiated in 1795.

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