Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection

Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library
Lexington, MA

On July 30, 1733, Henry Price, appointed by the Grand Lodge of England, gathered his Masonic brothers at a Boston tavern and formed what would become known as the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts. Over the following 280 years, Massachusetts Freemasons and the Grand Lodge withstood wars, Anti-Masonic sentiment, and fires.  Over time, members amassed a collection of Masonic and historic objects, mementos and documents housed at the Grand Lodge that tell not only their story, but also the story of Boston, New England, and the United States.

Curiosities of the Craft: Treasures from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts Collection draws on new research examining more than 150 objects from the Grand Lodge collection dating from the 1700s to the 1900s.  The resulting catalogue explores Masonic history by discussing not only the precious and unique, such as the gold urn made by Paul Revere to hold a lock of George Washington’s hair, but also objects like certificates, badges, and aprons that are also represented in the collections of local lodges and historical societies throughout the country. Catalog entries explore the context of each object, often relating it to regional, state, and local history as well as to Masonic history.

This catalog was produced to showcase the richness of this understudied and little-known collection and to encourage scholars of local, Masonic, and American history to investigate the intersection of Masonic history with the study of American society and culture, particularly on a local level. Through the treasures of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts collection, Curiosities of the Craft identifies the ordinary men and craftsmen as well as the extraordinary leaders who built and sustained the Freemasonry in Massachusetts for centuries.

Through Curiosities of the Craft, the museum is able to provide accurate information about Freemasonry and to encourage an understanding of how the fraternity has been intertwined with local and national history throughout the past 300 years. There are few books available on the material culture of Freemasonry and the ones that do exist are growing dated. The process of producing this book has given the museum an opportunity to engage their audience in new ways.