Category Archives: Masonic Collectables

What is this? Another Masonic Curio by Mike Lawrence

The item looks like it could be from French PoW’s during the Napoleonic period! What do you think?

The dimensions are:

H 70 mm
W 100 mm
D 70 mm

Which makes it quite small.

Can anybody help please?

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Masonic Collectables – Ceramic Jugs – by Mike Lawrence

Masonic ceramics, although generally only seen in Museums, are more common than one would imagine, but the majority are generally confined to private collections particularly as the interest for all things Masonic has grown rapidly over the last fifty years.

With images of temples and pillars, devices such as the square and compass, all-seeing eye, radiant delta, etc., and rhymes, generally from the ‘Enter’d Apprentice’ song with many variations, their origins and purpose are unmistakable, and the only mystery is to establish if they were produced for private or lodge use.

Masonic designs were developed on pottery almost as soon as the transfer process of applying decoration to ceramics was perfected. This improvement in technique was accomplished at Worcester pottery, England, about 1756, almost forty years after the founding of the first Grand Lodge in London

Below are a few examples of Masonic decorated jugs, kindly supplied a collector.


Liverpool Jug early 1800’s and has the verse;

“The World is in Pain, Our Secrets to gain, But still let them wonder & gaze on

For they ne’er can divine, The WORD nor the SIGN, Of a Free & an Accepted Mason”

Also front facing has the words;


The spelling of METEIRALS is as per the jug.

Height 28cm (11”) Width spout to handle 27cm (10 ½”)


Sunderland Lustre Jug, mid 1800’s and has the verse:

“The World Illusive

The world is all a fleeting show, For man’s illusion given; The smile of joy, the tears of  woe, Deceitful shine, deceitful flow, – There’s nothing true but Heaven.”

Poem by Thomas Moore 1779 – 1852

Depicting KS Temple on two sides with the verse on front with the initials G.J.M. – possibly to whom it was presented.

Height 180cm (7”) Width 250cm (10”)


This unusual jug has a lid and thought to be early to mid-1800’s, no factory mark, but possibly Liverpool, and has the verse:

“The World is in Pain, Our Secrets to gain, But still let them wonder & gaze on For they ne’er can divine The WORD nor the SIGN Of a Free & an Accepted Mason”

Height 25cm (10”) Width spout to handle 23cm (9”)


Creamware Jug, not sure of the age with unknown image on one side and what appears to be the Holy Royal Arch Triangle with irradiating sun and the images of the four cardinal virtues. On the front has the wording;

“The World is in Pain Our Secrets to gain But still let them wonder & gaze on For they ne’er can divine The WORD nor the SIGN Of a Free & an Accepted Mason”

Height 18cm (7”) Width spout to handle 23cm (9”)


Possibly Liverpool and possibly late 18th century owing to verse on the side using ‘f’ for ‘s’. The verse reads:

“The LIGHT Shineth in darknefs, and the Darknefs Comprehendeth in not”

The central symbology are the signs of the Zodiac, occasionally associated with Freemasonry, there are also more esoteric images to be seen.

Height 18cm (7”) Width spout to handle 17cm (6 ¾ “)


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Jewels made by French Prisoners of War Presented by Mike Lawrence

Napoleonic Wars (1793 – 1815)

The existence of Masonic activity in POW camps is well documented. (Please see links at the end of the article)

However there is a lack of documentary evidence linking specific Masonic items to individual makers, in particular camps,  so the possibility remains of items being made at a later date or elsewhere.

The PoW’s produced items from the scrap materials found around them and would sell them to pay for food and clothing.

Materials used included bone, straw, human hair, paper and wood.

French POW's

The Jewel on the left, albeit smaller (H 40mm D 32 mm) only has one column, the clasp is not rounded and the general finish is what one might expect from the available materials and conditions of internment.

The Jewel on the right (H 52mm D 40 mm) appears to be almost perfect in design – would one expect it to be so well finished in comparison to the other Jewel? Or do the two Jewels demonstrate the difference in materials available from one POW camp to another and / or the difference in skills of the craftsman?

According to correspondence my friend received from the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Great Queen Street, it is likely the prisoners had certificates, aprons or even book frontispieces and copied elements of these which would lead to elements of similarity in design.

The number of French soldiers and sailors brought to England as Prisoner of War was significant and estimated to be in the region of 120,000.


From records held at the Library and Museum, Great Queen Street.

‘In some cases the quality of workmanship was such that it threatened the livelihood of the craftsmen in the towns. This happened in the case of the lace makers and the trade in lace by prisoners was banned as a result’.

For further information on the subject please follow the links below:


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A brief history of the Apron and the variations of the “Brightware” that adorn them. By Mike Lawrence

The earliest representation of a Masonic apron we can definitely claim as in the speculative sense, can be found on a portrait of Anthony Sayer, the first Grand Master in 1717.

However, with regard to the white leather used, a very practical point soon made itself felt, which led to the refinement and adornment of the simple leather apron. Undyed white leather was very apt to leave white marks on the clothing of the brethren and this led to the provision of a lining.

In the Minutes of 17 March 1731, Grand Lodge we read the following:

“…that all those who have served in the Grand Offices shall wear their white leather aprons lined with blue silk. That those brethren who have served as Stewards shall wear their aprons lined with red silk, and the Master and Wardens of Lodges shall wear their aprons lined with white silk”

This is the earliest mention of the colour blue in connection with Masonic clothing, but we do not get any indication of the shade of blue until 1734, when on the authority of the Deputy Grand Master an order was given for Masonic clothing. This was described as:  

“Two Grand Master’s aprons lined with Garter blue silk and turned over two inches, with white strings; two deputy Grand Master aprons turned over one inch and a half, ditto,”

Here we arrive at a definite shade of blue, the Garter blue, and there is no possibility of doubt about the appearance on the fronts of the aprons, which from the modest turnover binding of the edges, has developed into the borders on the aprons which we now have.

It must be noted that the Garter blue used was not the colour which we recognise by that name today. In Stuart times, the Garter ribbons were light sky-blue, similar to that on Craft aprons today. This was the original Grand Officers colour. It was not until about 1745 that George II altered the shade of Garter blue to the darker colour, we are now accustomed. This was in order to distinguish his Garter Knights from those supporters of James II and his heirs who had been created Knights of the Garter by the exiled family and were not recognised by the Hanoverians.

When this alteration to the darker shade of blue of the Garter took place, the aprons of the Grand Officers followed suit and so still remain today as Garter blue. The light blue was left available for the Craft in general and in time was adopted at the Union in 1813.

Why was blue chosen? Possible because of three verses in Numbers 15:

38 “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:”

39 “And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes…”

40 “That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.”

The first mention of gold fringes was in 1787 and is found on the bill received for the apron of the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. Both aprons cost £1-1s-0d, £1.05p in today’s money.

Prior to any kind of uniformity, aprons came to be of all sorts of sizes, colours and materials. Those of the ‘Antients’ were larger and longer than those of the ‘Moderns’ and Brethren began to adorn them with beautiful Masonic designs, either embroidered, embossed or painted, the more elaborate the better. This practice finally reached a situation where aprons became too costly for ordinary men in ordinary Lodges.

The strings of the aprons which had received the embellishment of decorated ends, were passed around the waist and tied under the fall of the flap so the tasselled ends would hang down on the front of the apron.

Examples of different styles

The use of Brightware on our aprons, Brightware being the stainless steel used for decorative attachments that adorn out aprons also became popular and was standardised by the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813 and in general there were three designs for the tassels holders and the levels: Plain, Plain with bevelled edge, and foliated.

Note different chain lengths

9 & 10

c.1920 Cast tin tassels

As explained the seven metal tassels on our Craft aprons today were adopted as a permanent decoration in 1813 and we are told remind us that no Lodge is perfect unless seven Brethren are present: The Master, his two Wardens, two Fellowcrafts and two Entered apprentices. We also learn that in older times, the seven ages of man were thought to be influenced by the seven then known planets and no Master Mason was considered efficient unless he had some knowledge of the seven liberal arts and sciences. These tassels ultimately became attached to two vertical ribbons representing the two pillars at the porch way or entrance to King Solomon’s Temple.

In addition to this, rosettes and levels or taus, which indicate the rank of the wearer, were added as a regulation pattern again in 1813, along with the size which is generally 14-16 inches wide and 12-14 inches deep. The Rosettes and the levels or taus are set in the form of a triangle with the apex upwards, symbolic of the Divine Life attainable by complete knowledge after the resurrection. The levels have also been said to represent the first, second and third step in regular Freemasonry.

In older times, the apron was made from lamb skin and before it can be made, the life of an animal must be taken. That animal, the lamb, has ever been regarded as the symbol of innocence and therefore the apron is regarded as a symbol of peace and innocence.

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Did you find where the little fellow was hiding? By Mike Lawrence



You’ll find the little fellow at the bottom of a Creamware tankard!

This particular Creamware tankard is thought to date about 1790 – 1800.

Height 14cm (five and a half inches)
Width 11cm (4”)

There is no factory mark.

As you probably know the frog was put inside the tankard to startle the
person drinking from it, which I would imagine would be the Initiate. Such was the practice in 18th century Freemasonry.

The verse on the front is well known and features on a number of ceramics:

The World is in pain
our Secrets to gain
but still let them wonder & gaze on
they never can divine
neither word nor the sign
of a Free and accepted

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This little chap is only 2 cm long, here’s what it is? By Mike Lawrence

The following reply was received from the Assistant Curator, United Grand Lodge of England, Great Queen Street, London.

Thank you for your enquiry. This is quite a fascinating object, never seen the like before, however what we believe it to be is a watch fob that is also perpetual calendar. The numbers are on a disc that turns via that square nut on the back, most likely via the same key that would wind a pocket watch. The owner turns the disc so that the numbers match up with the days of the week and he has a reminder of the date. It’s clearly designed to be looked at by whoever was wearing it. I don’t think there is a winding mechanism of any sort, just the internal circular plate on a pivot. You can find perpetual calendar fobs nowadays, but they are usually a bit more complicated and not masonic.

Difficult to put a date on it, late 18th century is our best guess and it might be continental, not British. Something in the design of the compasses suggests that to us. A lovely and quite unique object, thank you for contacting us about it.

Yours sincerely

Assistant Curator.


Although the Assistant Curator suggested it may be continetal, I note the days of the week are signified by English spelling capitals.

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