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Benjamin Coffin
Maker not marked
USA: Massachusetts (probably)
a: Watercolor on paper mounted on board; b: wood
a sheet: 4-3/4"h x 3-3/4"wa; b: 6.375 in x 6.125 in x 1 in; overall:; a mat: 19-1/4"h x 14-1/4"w
Special Acquisitions Fund

a: Three-quarter-length portrait of man identified as Benjamin Coffin, posed against shaded blue background. Dated in red at lower left, 1833. Subject has dark hair combed to one side and sideburns. He wears a dark coat with white shirt and white stock. Over his clothing he wears a Masonic apron (white with gray trim, square body with triangular flap) and a Masonic sash or baldric with symbols (Templar cross, level, skull and crossbones and dagger). He holds a sword in one hand and wears a dark pin in the shape of a Templar cross on his shirt. b: Gold-colored wooden frame.

Benjamin Coffin, possibly of Newburyport, Massachusetts, felt pride in his role as a Freemason. In this painting, he wears not only a pin proclaiming his membership, but also a Masonic apron, sword, and sash decorated with symbols used in the Knights Templar degrees. This image may have been made to mark his achievement of reaching an important Masonic degree or holding a lodge office. For further information, see Hamilton, John D., "Material Culture of the American Freemasons," 1994, p. 110, 270.