Antiques

DISCOVERED: Stunning 1880 Masonic Grand Master’s Gold Jewel – One of the Largest in the World | Exclusive Photos

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BY DAVID ROSENSTEIN | Investigation

Research provided by Brother Matthew M. Rossetti, 32° Grand Lodge of Illinois, Valley of Chicago

The world has been fascinated with Freemasons for centuries. Countless books, articles, documentaries, even Hollywood films have been made about this ancient society. Yet, most people don’t really know much about the Masonry, their history, culture, traditions, and they certainly don’t often encounter Masonic artifacts in their daily lives.

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For this reason The World Art News is especially excited to share with our audience Exclusive HD Photos of one of the largest and most spectacular Masonic Gold Jewels in North America and possibly the World!

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With the help of our readers, WAN’s investigative journalists were able to discover fascinating historical records about this jewel’s original owner.

Now, for the first time ever, all this unique information is being presented in one place – The World Art News.


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Join Our Investigation!

Read the Editor’s Note at the End of this Article.


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This exquisite work of Masonic jewelry art once belonged to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois and is considered by some to be an artifact of national importance to the history of the United States.

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It was made in the late 1800s from yellow and rose solid 14 karat gold by a Masonic jeweler in Chicago, and is properly called a collar jewel (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a brooch or fob).

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Our investigation uncovered that this gold jewel first appeared on the market in 2018 and was quickly sold on Ruby Lane for several thousand dollars into a private collection. Since then, it may have been privately resold and is currently valued between $50,000 – 100,000 US.

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The jewel consists of three parts. The top portion has a beautifully embellished date of 1880 with an incredibly detailed monogram “WHS” in the center, which stands for for William H. Scott.

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WILLIAM HAYES SCOTT
Grand Master 1880-81
Born September 5, 1830 
Died December 30, 1915
Brother Scott was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania on September 5, 1830. His father died in 1849. In 1853, in company with his mother, brothers and sisters, he moved to Metropolis, Illinois, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits. When Metropolis was incorporated, he was elected mayor and served several terms. He was city clerk for several years and contributed largely in framing the ordinances of the city. In 1861 he was appointed superintendent of schools in Massac County and served for 12 years. He was for four years a member of the County Board. He was made superintendent of schools in Metropolis. 
In 1874 he was admitted to the Southern Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church. After serving several pastorates he was appointed Chaplain in the United States Army and assigned to duty at the Presidio, San Francisco, California. He was next sent to Benicia barracks, California where he remained until May, 1890. He also served at stations in Utah and on September 9, 1897 was retired. He then made his home in Alameda, California. He was made a Mason in Harrison Lodge No. 122, in Brandenburg, Kentucky in 1851. In 1853 he dimitted to Metropolis Lodge No. 91, Metropolis, Illinois and retained membership in that lodge for the remainder of his life.
Book: The Rise and Progress of Freemasonry in Illinois 1783-1952 by Everett R Turnbull

The center portion is the Great Seal of the State of Illinois, made in gold! It consists of an eagle with outspread wings that is sitting on a stone with the dates 1818 and 1868 (these dates represent the year Illinois became a state and the year in which the Great Seal was redesigned). The eagle is holding an American enameled shield in the Red, White, and Blue. In its beak he holds a ribbon that reads “State. Sovereignty. National Union.” The background is decorated with an old cut diamond that represents the sun which radiates on the horizon. Jeweler’s choice to use rose on top of yellow gold gives contrast to the entire composition and makes it stand out.

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The third and largest portion is framed by a laurel wreath, which is a symbol for victory and honor. In the center is a radiant sun and above it, a square and set of compasses. Encircling these Masonic symbols is an enameled band that reads “MOST WORSHIPFUL GRAND LODGE OF ILLINOIS A.F. & A.M.” The three parts are joined together by gold chain to form this magnificent collar jewel.

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The reverse of the bottom portion is engraved with the words: “Presented by the M. W. Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. State of Illinois. To Bro William H. Scott M. W. Grand Master Oct. 1880 to Oct. 1882”

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This jewel measures 5 7/8″ by 2 1/2″ (15 cm by 6.4 cm) and weighs 3.527 oz (100 g). It is in excellent condition, with only slight commensurate wear and a wonderful, age appropriate, patina that can be seen particularly on the back. The cobalt blue enamel is in remarkable state, especially when considering the age of this antique piece.

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The box has done a good job in protecting this collar jewel but unfortunately has some wear to it, with shredding of the interior lining, one missing hinge pin and some peeling to the outer layer. The clasp on the box is present but does not function to hold the box closed. There is some gold lettering on the inside of the lid and it’s still possible to read the words Masonic Jeweler Chicago, but the rest of the printing is unintelligible. That said, to find such a stunning historic jewel in its original case is a rarity in itself.

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Certainly, this entire jewelry composition is an amazing discovery for those who love masonic artifacts. Without a doubt, this grand-scale Grand Master’s gold jewel belongs in a museum!

Historical Record | In 1882, Illinois Grand Master William H. Scott, in his address to the Grand Lodge, had this to say about ritual:

Brethren, perfection in the work and lectures is a consummation earnestly to be hoped for. Yet if this is to be attained at the sacrifice of the great moral principles which Masonry teaches, they are purchased at too great a cost. We should never lose sight of these important lessons, nor forget that our ritual, beautiful as it is, and as desirable as it may be to have a correct knowledge of it, is only the scaffolding by the aid of which we are “to erect the inner temple of our lives.”

Masonry is not all ”forms and ceremonies.” A man may be an excellent ritualist, what some call “bright Mason,” and at the same time a very bad Mason. It is well to be able to work well in the lodge, but it is far better to practice the Masonic virtues at all times, in the home, at our places of business, and before the world.

Ritual as scaffolding that helps us erect the inner temple of our lives is a metaphor that needs more attention. It’s easy to focus too much on ritual when you’re trying to put on a degree, and the temptation to start correcting people when they don’t know their parts is always there. But ritual is not Masonry. It’s the path to Masonry.

Memorizing ritual enables me to carry it with me wherever I go, to meditate on its meaning, and to try to practice what it teaches. I don’t have to look it up. The more ritual I know, the more often I’ll be reminded of it by the events of my daily life and the choices they present to me. The more ritual I know, the more I’ll be able to apply it purposefully. It is knowing ritual, which means not just memorizing it but contemplating it, that gives me the chance to gain further light, and pushes me to choose to practice our true Masonic virtues. I find that when I neglect the ritual I slide back toward careless behavior in dealing with my fellow creatures. Neglecting the ritual makes it easier for me to act un-Masonically.

So I continue to work, however haltingly, to memorizing all the Work. Yes, I want the sense of accomplishment that comes with learning. Yes, I want to be able to assist in degrees. Yes, I want to earn the title of “Grand Lecturer.” But more than all of that, I want to be a Mason. As far as I’m concerned, there is no greater goal to which I can aspire.

Source: midnightfreemasons.org/2015/06/inner-temple.html
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Editor’s Note: The World Art News is looking to find more information about the first owner of this jewel – William H. Scott, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Illinois from Oct. 1880 to Oct. 1882. Any information about this individual would be appreciated, acknowledged, and quite helpful to future articles about this unique artifact. All relevant information can be shared in the comment section below or sent to our email: office@worldart.news


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