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Masonic Box
Nathan Negus (attributed) (1801-1825)
USA: Massachusetts, Boston (probably)
Wood, paint
closed: 4-3/4"h x 9-1/2"w x 6"d
Special Projects Fund, Supreme Council, 33º, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A.

Brown box with hinged lid. Diamond-shaped lock on front. Dovetail construction on sides. Painted Masonic decoration on top, front and sides. Top has a brown sawtooth border with red corner squares. An all-seeing eye (blue) is painted in the center with blue clouds and gold glory rays. Above the symbol are seven red five-point stars. A gold column stands at each side of the eye; both columns are topped with blue globes. The front shows a checkered pavement in the center, flanked by a gold sun and a gold moon with eight gold stars. Both the sun and the moon have facial features. One side shows blue clouds with gold glory rays. Painted on top of the clouds is a dark-colored square and compass symbol. Painted on the other side is a blue cloud with gold glory rays. On top of the cloud is a gold triangle or delta with a red G in the center. Pasted inside, on the lid, is a white paper label with black handwriting, "Nathan Negus - His Box / The Columbia Lodge, Boston." There are additional pencil markings on the inside of the lid (presumably later).

Nathan Negus, who is thought to have decorated this box with Masonic symbols, was born in Petersham, MA, in 1801. At age 13 (in 1814), he went to Boston to study with artist Ethan Allen Greenwood. Later that year, he began an apprenticeship with Boston painter John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841). A member of St. John’s Lodge in Boston, Penniman painted aprons and other Masonic objects—with his apprentices’ help. As a young man, Negus, possibly following Penniman’s example, joined the fraternity. Writing home he noted of his membership, “I am a member of a society who will never see me Suffer….” During his time with Penniman, Negus decorated fire buckets, signs, banners, and Masonic aprons. He ended his apprenticeship in 1820 and traveled as an itinerant painter with his brother, Joseph, from 1821 to 1822. He then traveled and worked on his own until he became sick in 1825. Negus returned to Petersham in 1825, dying there in July of that year.

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