Museum of Freemasonry

Bejewelled: Role and Rank

Freemasons call their badges 'jewels'. In this exhibit we explore some of the symbols and their meaning.

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Lodge Master, collar jewel (1910)Museum of Freemasonry

Symbols from inside freemasonry

Freemasons use stonemason working tools as symbols for their roles in the lodge. The Master uses the square, for checking right angles.

Lodge Senior Warden, collar jewel (1910)Museum of Freemasonry

Symbols from inside freemasonry

The Senior Warden uses the level, for checking horizontal lines.

Lodge Junior Warden, collar jewel (1910)Museum of Freemasonry

Symbols from inside freemasonry

The Junior Warden uses the plumb line, for checking vertical lines.

Lodge Secretary, collar jewel (1780)Museum of Freemasonry

Symbols from outside freemasonry

Not all symbols used by freemasons are unique to freemasonry. A quill for writing is often used as a traditional symbol for a Secretary. This collar jewel dates from 1780.

Lodge Treasurer, collar jewel (1780)Museum of Freemasonry

Symbols from outside freemasonry

In the days when money was always locked in a safe box, the symbol for a Treasurer was a key.

Lodge Deacon, collar jewels (1811/1817) by Thomas HarperMuseum of Freemasonry

Symbols from outside freemasonry

A Deacon, who is a lodge messenger, uses the symbol of the dove from the Bible story about Noah and the ark. The messenger Mercury from Roman mythology is also used.

Lodge of Friendship, collar jewel (1878)Museum of Freemasonry

The Past Master

When a Master of a lodge steps down they become a Past Master. 

The Past Master

The lodge members usually present a unique collar jewel with an inscription on the back as a way of saying thank you.

St. John's Lodge, Past Master collar jewel (1858)Museum of Freemasonry

The Past Master

The Past Master's symbol includes something extra: It's a very important diagram from geometry called Euclid’s 47th Proposition. 

The Past Master

The 47th Proposition of Euclid, also called Pythagoras' Theorem, is from ancient Greek mathematics. It is fundamental to geometry and can be found everywhere in freemasonry.

Past Master collar jewel; Portrait of unknown Past Master (1810)Museum of Freemasonry

The Past Master

In 1910 designs became standardised which meant that richer lodges or members could no longer show off their wealth with elaborate jewels.

The Past Master

We don't know who this freemason is, but we know he was a Past Master of a wealthy lodge.

Past Master jewels for a lodge

Lodges often give the Past Master a breast jewel with extra symbolism relating to the lodge itself. Let's take a look at some examples now.

Can you spot the connections between the symbolism and the lodge names?

Ex Libris Lodge, Past Master jewel, 1943, From the collection of: Museum of Freemasonry
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Fidelity Lodge, Past Master jewel, 1950, From the collection of: Museum of Freemasonry
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Good Samaritan Lodge, Past Installing Master jewel, 1929, From the collection of: Museum of Freemasonry
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The members of these lodges share a common interest or profession. Can you guess these from the symbols?

Kennington Lodge, Past Master jewel, 1904/1945, From the collection of: Museum of Freemasonry
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Drury Lane Lodge, Past Master jewel, 1910, From the collection of: Museum of Freemasonry
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Post Coram Otium Lodge, Founder jewel, 1928, From the collection of: Museum of Freemasonry
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Authors' Lodge, Past Master jewel (1913)Museum of Freemasonry

Style of the period

Authors’ Lodge added ancient Egyptian imagery to this intricate Past Master's jewel. Egyptian symbolism is common in freemasonry, especially in the early 20th century during the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods.

Style of the period

 Egyptian symbolism is common in freemasonry, especially in the early 20th century during the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods.

Style of the period

Every detail contains a hidden meaning to those familiar with freemasonry and Egyptian mythology.

Style of the period

The enamelled cast metal demonstrates the talent and skill required to make such a beautiful piece of jewellery.

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