Before Christmas, Noble Earl Bethune contacted me about some Masonic treasures he came across.
These treasures are from Lady Joan Cutler, wife of the late Noble Hooper Cutler, who passed on Father’s Day 2020. During this past summer, she was looking through a cabinet drawer and found a curious small box showing a snowman and snowwoman. In an instant, she remembered attending a North Shore Shrine Club luncheon and yankee swap with Hooper, nearly a decade ago.
“Choosing a gift is a challenge as we don’t need anymore ‘stuff.’ Nevertheless, when my ticket came up I had to choose. Among the wine bottles, fancy plates, re-gifts, etc., sat a small box showing a snowman and woman. I love snowmen, but had culled my rather extensive collection the year before. Oh well, a cute pair of small salt and pepper snow people won’t take up much space. I would put the box away for the Christmas season. Which I did, and we forgot about it.”
A year or two later she found the box in the cabinet drawer again, and opened it to a complete surprise.
“So many ancient and interesting medals and ribbons, all wrapped in pieces of older paper towels. As we looked through them all, we both began to form theories as to how they ever ended up on a Shriner’s Yankee swap table. We agreed that Hooper should take them to either a Masonic or Shriner’s meeting and give them to someone. I put them back in the cabinet’s deep drawer, rarely used, for safekeeping. As life has a way of getting in the way, they were forgotten once again.”
Joan reached out to Earl this December and shared these Masonic medals with him. None of the medals were easily recognized by Earl, so he knew it was important to find out the providence of this unique find.
Our Aleppo Historian, John Wilder, was contacted. The following is his research.
“The collection consists mostly of Commandery Triennial medals. These were popular in the late 1800s/early 1900s (similarly popular for the Shrine in the early 1900s) where each Commandery attending the Triennial would produce a medal, ribbon, or other souvenir for their members who attended the trip. These often featured imagery local to the Commandery or related to the name of the Commandery itself. For example, ones from California often featured an orange, from Connecticut a nutmeg, from Maine a pine cone, and, more locally, one of my favorites is one from New Bedford which features a whale. Some that we can pick out of this collection include Springfield Commandery which features a musket for the Springfield Armory, St. George (NH) which features the Commandery seal of St. George slaying the dragon, and Pilgrim Commandery in Lowell, one of which features the religious pilgrim from the Order of the Temple and another which features the traditional image of a 1600s New England pilgrim. It should be noted that some more “well to do” commanderies even produced multiple versions of their medals with a higher quality, one for members and one made of thin stamped metal for trading. Also included here is the official 1895 Triennial souvenir medal. Since this was held in Boston and a large number of medals were produced for the event in particular, these are not rare, though are collected, especially locally.”
Additionally, he added, “Along with the Commandery medals is a centennial medal for the Royal Arch Chapter in Lowell, which, along with the standard member’s jewel from Pilgrim Commandery makes me suspect the original owner of this lot was from the Lowell area. Th
ere are also two guest medals from Sphinx Temple in Hartford, CT. It was common in that same early 1900s time period there whenever a Noble from another Temple visited, to present them a badge of some sort both as a memento of their visit and, perhaps more importantly, so that they could be identified as a visitor and the Nobles would be sure to extend to them the warm hospitality expected of Nobles from their own Temple. We do have an example of Aleppo’s guest badge in the archives which was a scimitar and crescent with a camel’s head, almost identical to those used on Aleppo’s early 1900s Imperial Session souvenir medals, and a white ribbon which says ‘Guest’.”
Joan and Earl have donated the medals to Aleppo’s historical collections. Enjoy the photography.
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Spring will be here momentarily.
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