Past Masters

Past Master

Past Master, ca. 1858

United States

Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.27

Some members of fraternal groups chose to have their portrait painted or photograph taken wearing jewels of office, speaking to their pride in being elected or appointed to the position. Many opted to display a different kind of badge, a Past Master’s jewel, in their portraits.

Unlike badges of office, which are owned by the lodge, Past Master’s jewels are presented as gifts to outgoing Masters in appreciation of their leadership. Many Past Master’s jewels produced in the United States in the early 1800s featured the Masonic symbol of a sun within compasses, with a quadrant connecting its legs. However, like jewels of office, Past Master’s jewels take various forms in different states, reflecting the traditions and history of different Masonic jurisdictions.

Past Master’s Jewel

Past Master’s Jewel, 1809

Probably Boston, Massachusetts

Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.6653

William Henry Anderson

William Henry Anderson, ca. 1900
William A. Webster
Waltham, Massachusetts
Museum Purchase, 97.058

Past Master's Jewel, probably 1823

Past Master's Jewel, probably 1823
Thomas Harper (ca. 1735-1832)
London, England
Museum Purchase, 2017.018.2