Sam Whitley
Texas History Committee

Masonry is the world’s oldest and largest fraternity.  Its members are often caretakers of many artifacts.  Some of these artifacts have great historical significance and some do not. It is therefore incumbent on Masons to make themselves aware of the nature and value of these artifacts with the overall goal of making them available for future generations of Masons.

Masonry is steeped in tradition and history.  Unlike portions of the world whose historical artifacts span centuries or millennia, Texas Masonry is relatively young, and this means that most of its artifacts are likewise of relatively young age.  Notwithstanding this fact, there are still many priceless and irreplaceable artifacts in the collections of various Texas Lodges.

The Texas History Committee of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas will produce several articles on conservation of artifacts in an effort to give Texas lodges some guidance in judicious care and storage of their treasures.  Thus they will be available for the enjoyment and education of future generations.

Each installment in the conservation series will focus on conservatorship of a certain type or class of artifacts.  Though there will be a steady progression through the various types of artifacts, they may not be in the “right order” for your lodge’s personal collection. If you have a specific artifact requiring immediate conservation or stabilization, please drop a line to the Texas History Committee via the Grand Lodge website and describe your needs. We will find an answer to your problem and identify the proper steps for you to take in preserving the history in your care.

The Texas History Committee is very interested in helping you keep your Lodge’s history secure and in good condition.

Artifacts are divided into groups. These include:

  • Paper
  • Photographs
  • Books
    • Documents (Charters, certificates, etc.)
    • Textiles objects
    • Metal objects Furniture and wooden objects
    • Guns
    • Paintings and sculpture
    • Architecture

Paper makes up a large portion of lodge artifacts that need conservation.  These artifacts include lodge records, minutes, charters, photographs, and books.  Some of these, such as a charter signed by Grand Master Doctor Anson Jones are clearly irreplaceable and as such, also worthy of great effort in preserving for future generations.

Textiles make up a significant number of common Lodge artifacts.  From “Master’s Carpets” to altar cloths, to station coverings and aprons, they are by their very nature some of the most “handled” of articles and thus in most danger of damage.  My mind remembers an elaborately-embroidered shield-shaped apron framed and hanging on a Lodge wall.  It is today a muddy chocolate brown.  It was once brightly colored, but the cardboard backing contained acids that reacted with the dyes in the embroidery and destroyed the beauty of the embroidery and now even the white satin background is the same muddy brown.

Objects may range from the “sharp object” of reception to antique gavels.  From stations to altars; Tiler’s swords to officer’s jewels, some are rusty, some worn, and some damaged.

Paintings and sculptures may range from that statue of the “broken column” to hand-painted and adorned Jachin and Boaz.  They may need only dusting or they may require major work.

Beginning soon, regular sequels will be presented to help guide lodges in conserving their treasures.
Some conservator information may be found at the following sites: