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Pair of Masonic Columns with Globes
ca. 1840
Maker not marked
USA: Ohio
Wood, paint, metal
overall assembled: 93"h x 17-1/2"w x 17-1/2"d; a-b: 73"h x 17-1/2"w x 17-1/2"d;
Special Acquisitions Fund

Pair of Masonic Columns with Globes a-b: painted columns with painted decoration in gold, black, red, white, and brown; tops of columns have painted acanthus leaves; surmounted by globes; a: letter "J" on square base; b: letter "B" on square base; c: terrestrial globe; d: celestial globe with stars.

In Freemasonry, two columns marked “J” and “B” represent Jachin and Boaz, the columns erected at the entrance to King Solomon’s Temple. By the late 1700s, pillars symbolized the strength and stability of the institution of Freemasonry. In the early 1800s, lodges included three-dimensional pillars as part of their lodge furnishings. Arranged across from one another, the two columns served as a portal that a candidate passed through upon admission to the lodge. The celestial and terrestrial globes on top of these pillars represent the universality of Freemasonry. For further information, see blog post, May 13, 2010 http://nationalheritagemuseum.typepad.com/library_and_archives/2010/05/sharing-comments-on-the-initiated-eye.html and see Hamilton, John D., "Material Culture of American Freemasons," 1994, p. 67.