Auctioneers Mantlepiece XI
Well, here we are in 2023 and I’m being encouraged to write more about some of the things I’ve collected in my now 50 years as an Auctioneer and Valuer. I’m so lucky never to have been without a job in the industry and as such have come across and often been tempted to bid on many amazing objects. In our Welsh cottage space is a big issue and my wonderful wife forbids me from spreading my wares through the whole house. Hence after some auctions, I return home with my hand behind my back!
One of the many areas I’ve had an interest in is objects to do with Freemasonry. Despite its sometimes dubious reputation as a secret society, it is in fact an organisation that is a force for good and does a great deal of good both within and outside its circles locally and nationally.
Items connected with the so-called Craft turn up quite often in sales and can be quite valuable, depending on what they are. We often see little cases of aprons and collars, as worn by all Masons, and I have to advise families that usually these are best returned to the respective Lodge they are from. More collectable are Masonic medals, known as jewels, awarded for different achievements in a Masons career. Past Masters Jewels and Stewards jewels are seen often and older ones of these are collectable, especially as many are silver gilt and sometimes gold. They are also commemorative, and I have a silver jewel that commemorates Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897, not something that would be worn these days but interesting. I’m particularly fond of Masonic drinking glasses and have bought a few of these over the years. These are often so-called ‘firing glasses’ with Masonic emblems and heavy bases as they are banged on the dinner table in time to emphasise a Toast. Not particularly rare but interesting. More elaborate larger glasses are rarer and occasionally pottery items, mugs bowls etc will turn up. These are often 19th-century Staffordshire or Sunderland pottery.
My favourite pieces are a heavy Masonic glass with a pair of dice in the base for playing gambling games after the formalities of the Lodge are done, which I bought many years ago, and a recent purchase which is a Masonic pendant with symbols on one side and a beautifully scrolled lock of hair to the reverse. Undoubtedly early 1800s I believe, I’m sure it’s some Memorial piece, maybe to a previous member of a Lodge, to be worn perhaps by the current Master. I will research this one day but, in the meanwhile will not tell Mrs Auctioneer what I paid for it!
If you have anything with a Square and Compass on it may be worth more than you think!
The (Old) Auctioneer