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Pitcher with Masonic Symbols
Maker not marked
Earthenware with black transfer-printed decoration
8-3/4"h x 9"w x 6-1/4"d
Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts

Light brown Liverpool pitcher or jug. On one side, in black, is an arrangement of Masonic symbols. At top are three allegorical figures of faith, hope and charity. There are two columns with a checkered floor and many Masonic symbols including an all-seeing eye, level, crossed keys, sun and moon, Euclid's 47th Problem, a beehive and many others. Toward the bottom is a banner reading, "Memento Mori." On the other side, in black, is an eagle or a turkey standing on a cannon. Below the cannon is a circle with an eagle and shield; along the top of the circle it reads, "Peace Plenty and Independence." At each side is a woman in Classical dress holding a cornucopia. One is lighting something on fire.

In 1924, artist and antique dealer Gamaliel Beaman (1852-1937) gave this transfer-print decorated pitcher to his friend Amos Clayton Parker (b. 1885). Parker, an interior decorator and member of Norumbega Lodge in Newtonville, Massachusetts, later gave or sold it to the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.The pitcher was accompanied by a note from Beaman stating that he had purchased the vessel in nearby Templeton, Massachusetts, “in 1884, of Mrs. Works her Husband was the Tyler + took the Pitcher Home she said as the Lodge Closed for the last time.”He further recorded that the pitcher was a relic from a lodge that had long since ceased operation and whose charter had been lost. It is possible thatthis pitcher may have once been used at Harris Lodge. This group met in Athol, Massachusetts, starting in 1802. From 1813 to 1834, the lodge met in Templeton. This lodge operated during the time when imported English transfer-print decorated earthenware, like this pitcher, enjoyed its greatest popularity. Two transfer prints grace this pitcher. One shows a common design that displays a raft of Masonic symbols between two columns surrounded by swags of flowers. The other depicts a patriotically themed design that English pottery makers developed to appeal particularly to American consumers. This image shows a winged bird, meant to be an eagle, atop a representation of the Great Seal of the United States ornamented with the motto “Peace, Plenty and Independence.” This motto was a much-proclaimed toast in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The American flag is in the background and allegorical figures bookend the design. In embellishing this pitcher with these two images, the pottery decorator hoped to attract the business of a purchaser proud to be both an American and a Mason. For further information, see blog post, July 26, 2016 http://nationalheritagemuseum.typepad.com/library_and_archives/2016/07/a-masonic-pitcher.html

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