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Master Mason Apron
Maker not marked
USA: Massachusetts (probably)
Ink and wash on leather, silk, cotton, bullion
overall: 24"h x 20-7/8"w
Gift of Dr. Phillip James Jones

Masonic apron of Richard Harris, Worshipful Master of Philanthropic Lodge A.F. and A.M., Marblehead, Massachusetts, 1778-1781; ink and wash on leather; designs include Solomon's Temple and pavement above three columns representing Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty; sun, moon with stars, key, heart, skull and crossbones, trowel, gavel, clock, square and compasses on Bible, square, level and plumb; below, poem in ribbon reading "Wisdom fair goddess we pursue and virtue always have in view. Let critics sport and fools deride masons alone in strength confide. Beauty to us her right imparts we keep'em lock'd within our hearts." Long body with triangular flap. Leather flap with orange fabric on top. Silver bullion star applied to flap. Blue strip at top of flap. Leather ties.

The form of Masonic aprons derives from the protective aprons, often leather, worn by stonemasons and other craftsmen. This apron is an unusual survival from the late 1700s. As was the case at the time, Masonic aprons were long, approximating the shape of the workmen’s aprons they were based on. Along with other symbols, this apron features a depiction of King Solomon’s Temple. The story of that structure’s construction forms the basis for the first three degrees in Freemasonry. For further information, see Newell, Aimee E., "The Badge of a Freemason," 2015, p. 24-25; Tabbert, Mark A., "American Freemasons: Three Centuries of Building Communities," 2005, p. 43; and Hamilton, John D., "Material Culture of the American Freemasons," 1994, p. 94, 104.

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