MW Daniel M Semel’s 60th Anniversary Special Exhibit

To celebrate 60 years of Masonic service of MW Daniel M. Semel, Past Judge Advocate, the Library and Museum organized a special display consisting of documents from Lodge Historical File of Shakespeare Lodge no.750, books from the library collection, and artifacts from the museum related to MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York.

Temporary exhibit from Library and Museum celebrating MW Daniel M Semel’s 60 years of Masonic service.

MW Daniel M. Semel is an Honorary Past Grand Master and he also serves as its Grand representative of MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, near the Grand Lodge of New York, so we put a book he had donated. We also put on display medals from MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York, and reprinted Charter from African Lodge no. 459.

In 1988, MW Semel was appointed as the Chairman of Unity Committee, which was featured in the article and report we included. The Unity Committee was founded with the aim of bringing the Grand Lodge of New York and the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York into unity.

MW Daniel M. Semel was initiated, passed and raised in Shakespeare Lodge no.750 in 1959. We found two trestleboards of Shakespeare Lodge no. 750 from the same year. One listed him as “Awaiting First Degree” and one from three months later, which mentioned him as a newly raised Master Mason.

Shakespeare Lodge no.750’s Trestle Board of March 1959, listing MW Daniel M. Semel as Awaiting First Degree
Shakespeare Lodge no.750’s From the East article by RW Max Cohen, 1959, mentioned MW Daniel M. Semel as one of the newly raised Master Mason

Ten years later, in 1969, he became Master of the Lodge as we show the picture from Shakespeare Lodge no.750 Centennial Anniversary book. He became Judge Advocate in 1979 and the program of the ceremony was also on display.

Shakespeare Lodge no.750’s Presentation Ceremony Program from 1979

We were honored to be part of the celebration and it is our pleasure to honor one of the most significant members in the history of the Grand Lodge of New York.

Ratirat Osiri

Museum Technician

Exploring the Travel Certificate Collection

Folded and attached to a leather case, a travel certificate is carried and used as Masonic identification when a Mason visits foreign Lodges. In the Museum collection, we have a sub-collection of travel certificates, and I am pleased to share some of the interesting pieces I have found during my work with this collection.

Illuminated “Masonic Register” Certificates

Once unfolded from its leather case, a giant and beautifully illuminated certificate is revealed. This “Masonic Register” belonged to Worshipful Rudolph Holde, Past Master of Shakespeare Lodge no. 750, and Washington Lodge no. 21, and both Charter Member and Past Master of Great Kills Lodge no. 912.1 The certificate elaborates on the details of his Masonic milestones, and is decorated with hand-painted illumination. His photographic portrait is also attached. It even includes his “Called from Labor” date, which was likely written in before the certificate was accepted into the collection.

RW Augustus W. Peters

Another certificate of similar fashion belonged to Worshipful Augustus W. Peters, another prominent member who served as Master of Acanthus Lodge no. 719, as High Priest of Constellation Chapter no. 209 and as Eminent Commander of Clinton Commandery no.14. In his non-Masonic life, he was a Chairman of Consolidated Stock and Petroleum Exchange and served as the first Manhattan Borough President.2 The certificate also shows his long list of membership and affiliations in various Masonic bodies.

James M. Austin’s Knights Templar Certificate with Robert Macoy’s Signature, 1858

Name of RW James M. Austin
Robert Macoy’s signature as Grand Recorder.

Before Right Worshipful Edward M. L. Ehlers’ celebrated, 36-year service as Grand Secretary, Right Worshipful James M. Austin served as the Grand Lodge of New York’s Grand Secretary for 27 years. One of the certificates from his leather travel case is his Knights Templar certificate, which is signed by Robert Macoy as Grand Recorder. Right Worshipful Robert Macoy was the Grand Lodge’s Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Commandery Knights Templar of New York’s Grand Recorder, and the founder of Macoy Publishing & Masonic Supply Co., still in existence today.

Edward C. Ehlers’s WW1 Masonic Letter, 1918

During World War I, Right Worshipful Edward C. Ehlers, the son of Honorary Past Grand Master and Past Grand Secretary Most Worshipful Edward M. L. Ehlers, was serving as a First Lieutenant in the Medical Reserve Corps in the United States Expeditionary Force3 . Although he was stationed at Camp Gordon, Atlanta3, his Masonic identification letter came in four different languages: English, French, Italian, and German. The letter issued by Continental Lodge no. 287 confirms the holder’s Masonic identity and requests assistance from other Brothers if he is found in distress, regardless of their affiliation. 

An expelled Mason’s certificate and a warning letter, 1866

Found folded within a travel certificate, the above is warning letter issued by Crescent Lodge no. 402, NYC, which describes the appearance of an expelled Mason and outlines his “immoralities”. In the letter, William T. Miller was accused for adulteries and fraud. The letter was presumably spread throughout the country to notify the Lodges to be cautious of his presence and his “evil designs”. The letter also includes his photographic portrait, which is uncommon for such a warning letter. Surprisingly, along with the letter a certificate was found which belonged to William T. Miller himself. Apparently, at one point, it was taken away from him and the notice was put with it for future reference (a precaution which has worked as intended). 

The above is a sample of the vast and diverse certificate collection held by the Museum of the Grand Lodge of New York. Each reflects the history of an individual Mason as well as various aspects of the organization. Accordingly, this collection is essential to the preservation of Masonic heritage, as it provides the primary historical data source for research and study.

Ratirat Osiri

Museum Technician


1. Semel, Daniel, Shakespeare Lodge no.750, Did you know that?, March 14 1974. Print

2. Harrison, Mitchell Charles. New York State’s Prominent and Progressive Men: an Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography. Vol. 3, New York Tribune, 1902.

3. Continental Lodge no. 287, Honor Roll, May 1918. Print

Highlights of the Library’s Coin and Medal Collection

Among the 60,000 artifacts in our care, we have a fascinating coin and medal collection which reflects both rich Masonic history as well as the history of the world. As I have been cataloging and studying them, I am excited to share with everyone some of the collection’s highlights that I have come across .

The Masonic Medal issued by the United States Congress

To commemorate the centennial of the death of George Washington in 1899, the United States Congress issued four commemorative medals to fund The Washington Monument Association in 1902.1 The collection feature George Washington’s profile based on Jean-Antoine Houdon’s works on the obverse with four reverse variants; Surveyor variant, Firemen variant, Husbandry variant and Masonic variant, which was suggested by a committee appointed by lodges in Alexandria. 2 They were pressed in later in 1904 in Philadelphia and were distributed for $1 each in bronze (and $1.5 in silver) 2

The four medals reflected his life and time as a citizen in Virginia where he spent his career as a surveyor, a fireman and a farmer, and served as the Master of the Lodge.3 The reverse of the Masonic variant displays a Masonic apron with a square and compasses and the inscription of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 of Virginia, the Lodge in which George Washington served as Master in 1788.

This medal is one of the only Masonic medals ever issued by the US Congress. The creation of this medal could also suggest that George Washington’s strong connection with the Freemasons was still widely acknowledged back in that time.4

The Ciphered Masonic Medal of the Netherlands

This medal was struck in 1825 at The Hague by the Grand Lodge of the Netherlands to commemorate the marriage of the Grand Master of Masons in the Netherlands, Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, to Princess Louise of Prussia. The medal was designed by Joseph-Pierre Braemt, a famous Belgian medalist & engraver. The obverse presents the female figure referred to as Latomia with ciphered lettering above translated as “Ornat Et Auget5 which possibly means “Elegantly Increase in Wealth and Fertility” as a blessing to the royal couple.

The reverse displays an radiated delta with the letter G , with ciphered inscription around which can be translated to “In Memoriam Augustissimarum Nuptiarum Fratum Libere Ac Fidelis Silenti Lege Operantium Florentissima In Belgio Societas.”5 It could be roughly translated in English as “The most flourishing Society in Belgium of Brethren working freely under the law of faithful silence to commemorate the majestic wedding.”5

On a side note, after the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Belgium was annexed into the Kingdom of Netherlands, and so were the Belgian Lodges.6 It could possibly be that the Belgian Brethren, who were under The Grand Lodge of The Netherlands at that time, were the ones who issued this medal, which would explain why Belgium was mentioned on its inscription.

The non-Masonic French Revolution Token

The five Sols copper token was commissioned by Monneron brothers of Paris (Monneron Frères) as “necessity money” in 1792 during the economy recession due to the French Revolution. The obverse displays the adaptation of “Fête de la Fédération” (The Festival of Federation) of July 14th, designed by Augustin Dupré, and depicting the soldiers saluting the female figure which represents Liberty.7 The inscription says “Vivre Libre ou Mourir”, which means, “Live free or die.”

The Monneron brothers commissioned Matthew Boulton of Soho Mint in Birmingham, England, to make the token. The token was made of copper, using a steam engine coin press and it was considered one of the highest-quality tokens ever produced. However, the token barely lasted a year before it was forbidden by the French government later in 1793 and slowly ceased circulation.8 (On a side note, the term ‘coin’ only applies to government-issued money, while currency issued by a non-governmental entity is instead named a token.)9

The non-Masonic Civil War Medal of Confederate General Jackson

The Stonewall Jackson medal was the medal issued by the Confederates to commemorate the death of Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, the famous Confederate General of the Stonewall Brigade. This medal is claimed to have different origins from various sources: some claim it was commissioned by a grandson of the Marquis de Lafayette of the Revolutionary War10; some claim it was Charles Lamar, a Georgian businessman and Confederate Colonel who commissioned it.11

There is also a claim that the medal is the only medal issued by the Confederate States12, although there is no official record of it anywhere. The most likely claim is that, shortly after his death, the medal was made by fundraising through subscription, along with the funding of his statue.13

The medal was designed by Armand Caque, a French medalist. The finished medals were shipped from France and arrived at the very end of the Civil War. The other shipment was purchased in Paris by Charles Lamar during a business trip in Europe, hence the assumption that he was to one who commissioned it.13

The shipment made it through the Union’s blockade to Georgia, but then Lamar rejoined the army and was killed in action before he could distribute them. The medals were kept away in the Lamar family’s warehouse for almost thirty years before they were recovered again, making headlines in newspapers.14 They were later sold for $1 each through The Lady’s Auxiliary to aid disabled Confederate veterans, as advertised in 1894 in the Civil War Veteran magazine.13

The obverse of the medal shows the bust of Stonewall Jackson, facing left. The reverse shows the list of Civil War battles in which he participated. Though it was one of the most significant items associated with the Confederate, it is criticized for a number of inaccuracies on the medal such as mistakes in the list of his battles13, the wrong year of his birth and the poor likeliness of his portrait that has more resemblance to Abraham Lincoln than to Stonewall Jackson.14


1. “The Statutes at Large of The United States of America.” The Statutes at Large of The United States of America, vol. 32, Government Printing Office, 1903, p. 715.

2. Brownell, J. H. “Monument to Washington, as a Citizen in His Home Town.” The American Tyler, edited by Arthur M. Smith, The Tyler Publishing Co., 1904.

3. “American Journal of Numismatics.” Recent Washington Medals, vol. 39, no. 2, Oct. 1904, p. 36.

4. Newell, Aimee E. “Masonic Medals: Honoring the Past, Creating the Future.” Trowel, 2014, pp. 12–12.

5. Marvin, William Theophilus Rogers. “The Medals of the Masonic Fraternity : Described and Illustrated.” The Medals of the Masonic Fraternity : Described and Illustrated, Privately Printed, 1880, pp. 27–28.

6. Brennan, J. Fletcher, translator.  A General History of Freemasonry : Based Upon the Ancient Documents Relating to, and the Monuments Erected by, This Fraternity, From Its Foundation, In the Year 715 B.C., To the Present Time, by Emmanuel Rebold, Cincinnati : American Masonic Publishing Association, 1872, pp. 119–120.

7. Margolis, Richard. “Matthew Boulton’s French Ventures of 1971 and 1972; Tokens for the Monneron Frères of Paris and Isle De France .” The British Numismatic Journal, vol. 58, 1988, pp. 105–105.

8. Webster, Mish. “Mennerons Issued!” 

9. Homren, Wayne, editor. “The E-Sylum.” The Numismatic Bibliomania Society, 15 Apr. 2007

10. “TAMS Journal.” TAMS Journal, vol. 27, no. 5, Oct. 1987, pp. 183–185.

11. Muhl, Gerard. “Stonewall Jackson Medal of 1864.” RNA News, 2013, p. 4.

12. “Exonumia Auction #66 by Presidential Coin and Antique Company Inc, Public Auction Sale November 13, 1999, Suburban Washington-Baltimore Coin Convention.” Presidential Coin and Antique Company, Robert J. Centola Collection, 2000, p. 133.

13. Ruehrmund, Jim. “The Stonewall Jackson Medal.” The Virginia Numismatist, vol. 31, no. 4, July 1995, pp. 8–11.

14. “Relic of A Brave Hero: Two Barrels of Stonewall Jackson Medals Found in Savannah.” The Morning News, 24 Jan. 1894, p. 8.

Recent Acquisitions

The Theatre of The Occult Revival: Alternative Spiritual Performance from 1875 to the Present
This volume offers a thorough exploration of the religious foundations, political and social significance and aesthetics created by some of the most influential voices of the Occult Revival including, Aleister Crowley, Rudolf Steiner, and Katherine Tingley. Lingan’s text explores how theatre contributed to the fragmentation of Western religions and how the Occult Revival influences the development of occult rituals and beliefs.

Black Freemasonry
Revered Masonic research, Cécile Révauger provides a history of black Freemasonry throughout the United States from the beginning of Prince Hall lodges in Boston and Philadelphia in the early 19th century through the civil rights movement. Moreover, she attempts to explain the social role Freemasonry played in helping black Americans transcend the injustices they faced throughout time.

The Master Mason: The Reason of Being

The Master Mason explore the symbolism and allegory of the third degree of Freemasonry . In this volume Stewart seeks to explore the underlying esoteric connections within the ritual involved in becoming a Freemason.

Espionage, Diplomacy & The Lodge : Charles Delafaye and the The Secret Department of the Post office

In Berman’s latest book he provides insight into the British secret service and one of the most important figures of 18th century Britain., Charles Delafaye. Lafaye was a notable Freemason was at the center of the code breaking and Deciphering Branch within the secret department of the Post Office helping to prevent potential coups and acts of treason.

The General Meeting of the Square Club of the 4th Masonic District of Manhattan

By Catherine M. Walter, Curator and Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator

On November 14, 2018, The Square Club of the Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan, Inc. held a General Meeting Festive Board in the Ionic Room at Masonic Hall in New York City.  At the meeting, the Square Club hosted RW Demetrios G. Melis, Secretary of the Library’s Board of Trustees, who presented a brief lecture on the history of the Fourth Manhattan District and its Square Club. The  Square Club can be considered one of the oldest District Associations in the Grand Lodge of New York, being a direct successor to the Square Club of the Seventh Masonic District of Manhattan, which existed as early as the 1890s.

The Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan was originally formed from 22 Lodges of the Sixth and Seventh Districts in the 1918 state-wide reorganization of the Districts of the Grand Lodge of New York. Those 22 Lodges included (to this day) Kane Lodge No. 454, the “Explorers’ Lodge,” and St. Cecile Lodge No. 568, the state’s first daylight “Lodge of the Arts.” This Lodge has special Dispensation to meet during the day, due to its membership which was largely formed of performers who could not meet at night.

Through the work of Ms. Catherine M. Walter, Curator, and Ms. Ratirat Osiri, Assistant Curator, with the assistance of Mr. Joseph Patzner, Librarian, the Livingston Masonic Library and Museum was pleased to present a Temporary Exhibit highlighting some of the fascinating artifacts held in the collections which came from Lodges in the Fourth Manhattan District. The attendees stated that they greatly appreciated the Special Exhibit and extended their grateful thanks to the Library staff for their work illuminating the history of their Lodges and Districts.

Fourth Masonic District of Manhattan
Image Courtesy RW Melis.

The Lodges of the Fourth Manhattan District, their organizational histories and the displayed artifacts are highlighted below.

Heritage Lodge No. 371 was formed in 1996 with the merger of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 and Corinthian Architect Lodge No. 488. It the existent Lodge after the previous mergers of Greenwich Lodge No. 467 and Sagamore-Naphthali Lodge No. 371 in 1971, and Corinthian Lodge No. 488 and Architect Lodge No. 519 in 1967. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1905 Member Pendant from the 50th Anniversary of Sagamore Lodge No. 371 [J6inv-654]. Sagamore Lodge No. 371 was warranted on July 3, 1855).

Compact Lodge No. 402 was formed in 1979 with the merger of Crescent Lodge No. 402 and Monitor Mosaic Lodge No. 418, and is the existent Lodge after the merger of Mosaic Lodge No. 418 and Monitor Lodge NO. 528 in 1971. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1903 Ashtray commemorating Crescent Lodge No. 402’s One Thousandth Communication [I38]. Crescent Lodge No. 402 was warranted on July 3, 1856. 

Image by Ratirat Osiri

Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858. On display in the Exhibit was the below Past Master’s Jewel, which is engraved with the following: “Presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 F & AM to W.B Barnett Woolf as a token of their Appreciation of the Manner he presided Over them during 1864, 1865 & 1867. Re-presented by Franklin Lodge No. 447 to Wor. Bro. Isaac J. Woolf, on his installation as Master Dec. 17th, 1917.” Franklin Lodge No. 447 was warranted on June 25, 1858.


The existent Manahatta Lodge No. 449 was formed after a 1975 merger of Hiram Lodge No. 449 and Manahatta Lodge No. 489. On display in the Exhibit was the below 1900 lapel pin from Hiram Lodge No. 449, a Lodge with a quite complicated history. Its initial warrant was dated March 10, 1783, having been formed by members of No. 213 Army Lodge under the English registry. It became No. 7 in the renumbering of June 3, 1789, and then became No. 10 in the renumbering of June 4, 1819. On December 1, 1830, it’s number changed to No. 9 in the Proceedings.

On December 3, 1834, its warrant was suspended, and soon thereafter, surrendered. There was an attempted revival in 1852 by the Phillips Grand Lodge, which failed, and the warrant was again surrendered. A Petition to revive the warrant was made on February 6, 1858, and the warrant was revived on February 9, 1859 by the Grand Master of the Phillips Grand Lodge, in which it became No. 148. At the union of the Phillips Grand Lodge and the regular Grand Lodge of New York on August 4, 1858, it received the number 449. More research would need to be done to discover why the lapel pin marks 1792 as an important date for the Lodge.


Kane Lodge No. 454 was warranted on June 9, 1854. On display in the Exhibit was a 1900 Program for a Dinner to Kane Lodge No. 55, New Jersey, by Kane Lodge No. 454, NY. Included in the Program was a signed engraving by Jacques Reich of Elisha Kent Kane. Kane Lodge No. 454 maintains their own Museum at the Grand Lodge of New York which highlights their explorer members who traveled to and discovered the North Pole. 

Not on display in the Special Exhibit, but related to Kane Lodge No. 454, is this walrus tusk, signed by Rear Admiral Robert Edwin Peary, Sr. (b. 1856 – d. 1920). Brother Peary, the discoverer of the North Pole in 1909, was a member of Kane Lodge No. 454, being Raised in 1896. The tusk above was donated to the Library in 2003 by Mrs. Lois Morgante,  the widow of RW Rinaldo Morgante (b. 1923 – d. 2003), a Past Master of Yonkers Lodge No. 882 and the former Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Panama near the Grand Lodge of New York. This tusk may be a match to one that was made into a gavel for Peary Lodge No. 997 and presented to the Lodge by RW A. J. Squires.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

Columbian Lodge No. 484 was warranted on June 15, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below Medal commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge in 1910.

Pyramid Lodge No. 490 was warranted on June 3, 1856 by the revived St. John’s Grand Lodge, and was granted a new warrant from the regular Grand Lodge on June 8, 1860. On display in the Exhibit was the below medal from their 50th Anniversary in 1910.


Park Lodge No. 516 was warranted on June 5, 1862. The first communication of Park Lodge was held at Washington
Hall, 683 Eighth Avenue, on Wednesday evening, July 11, A.L.
5860, under a Dispensation granted by MW John W. Simons, Grand Master.

An early petitioner to Park Lodge was Peter Hart, who distinguished himself as one of the first heroes of the Civil War. Of this Brother, “Leslie’s History of New York” commented: “With Major Anderson at Fort Sumter was Peter Hart, a soldier who had served with him in the Mexican campaigns. Hart was a native New Yorker and had once been a sergeant on the New York Police force. Nine times during the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the Stars and Stripes were pierced by shots from Confederate
batteries. At last a ball struck the staff and down came Old Glory to the dust. Thereupon, Peter Hart climbed to the top and nailed the flag to it while shot and shell were pouring all around him in a hissing shower. It remained in its proud position for two days until the surrender on April 14, 1861. It is worthy to note among the historic memories of the times a New Yorker saved the Stars and Stripes from falling in the first historic battle of the Great Civil War.” 
A postcard in the collection which references the Lodge was not placed on display in the Exhibit, but is featured below.


In 1861, Brother and Sergeant Peter Hart, member of Park Lodge No. 516, saved the flag at Fort Sumter, returning with it in 1865 with Brother and General Robert Anderson, a member of Mercer Lodge No. 50, Trenton, NJ, and an honorary member of Pacific Lodge No. 233, NY.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

Gramercy Lodge No. 537 was warranted on June 17, 1863. A large coaster which was not placed on display for the Exhibit is featured below.

This artifact features an event on November 20, 1926, held by Gramercy Lodge No. 537 at Hotel Astor, the year in which W..Dudley C. Coverley served as Master. This hotel was on Broadway between 44th and 45th Street in Manhattan, and was named after RW John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), one of the first members of Holland Lodge No. 8, and Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of New York from 1798-1801. He also served in two instances as Junior Grand Warden pro tem in 1798 and in 1801.
Image by Catherine M. Walter

On February 20th of that year, 1863, Putnam Lodge, No. 338 sponsored
the application of W..George K. Chase and twenty-three other Masons to form a Lodge they named Gramercy (which to the American Indians means “Many Thanks”). Of these petitioners, twenty-one were from York
Lodge, No. 197; one from Oscar Coles Lodge, No. 241; one from Tecumseh Lodge, No. 487 and one from Hiram Lodge, No. 1, of New Haven Conn. They came from diverse walks of life: broker, tailor, lawyer, baker, plumber, brush maker, grocer, hardware and ointment merchants, to name a few…
At the outset, the Lodge developed a close fraternal association with Sagamore Lodge, which presented Gramercy with a trowel.

St. Cecile Lodge No. 568 was warranted on June 28, 1865. It was the first Lodge in New York State to be granted Dispensation to meet during the day, as most of the members were entertainers who worked at night on Broadway. On display in the Exhibit was the below Certificate for Brother Al Jolson. Also on display from the Biography Section of the Library’s Book Collection was the book, Jolson: The Legend Comes to Life, by Herbert G. Goldman [Call Number in the Library: 921 J68g].

Brother Al Jolson (1888-1950) was an actor and singer of Russian heritage. He performed on stage in New York City, and traveled with circuses and vaudeville performers.
He was Raised on July 1, 1913 into St. Cecile Lodge No. 563, and thirty years later, received the above Active Honorary Membership Certificate.
Image by Ratirat Osiri

Publicity Lodge No. 1000 was warranted on May 3, 1922. Today, it is formed by the consolidation of Harlem Lodge No. 457 and Americus Lodge No. 535 which merged to become Liberty Lodge No. 457 in 1986, and by the merger of Liberty Lodge No. 457 and Publicity Lodge No. 1000 who merged in 1999 to become Publicity Lodge No. 1000. On display in the exhibit was the below certificate issued to Brother Hiram B. LeQuatte in 1962, commemorating his 50 year anniversary of becoming a Freemason. This certificate was donated in 2016 by David Wendt in Honor of Hiram B. LeQuatte.

Image by Ratirat Osiri

Britannia Lodge No. 1166 was warranted on May 6, 1964. On display in the exhibit was the below Certificate of attendance during the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary celebration. It was presented to MW Wendell K. Walker, Honorary Past Grand Master (awarded in 1979) and Past Grand Secretary from 1963-1990, serving for 27 years during the terms of 15 Grand Masters. He passed away in 1991, during MW Richard P. Thomas’ term. MW Walker was an avid supporter of the Livingston Masonic Library.

Jose Rizal Lodge No. 1122 was  warranted on May 16th, 1984. On display in the exhibit was the below plate, celebrating the Lodge’s 25th Anniversary in 2010 and issued during the term of W.. Arvin P. Repil. a Brother in good standing for the past 37 years. 

Also on display, to highlight the Mason after whom Jose Rizal Lodge was named, was the below commemorative folder of currency, issued in the Philippines with a Masonic Square and Compasses prominently displayed. The first-named Hero in the Struggle for independence was Brother Jose Rizal, a member of Logia Solidaridad No. 53.

It was a great pleasure for the Library’s Museum Division to share some of the magnificent artifacts in the Collection with the Brethren for whom the items have most meaning. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Library if your Lodge or District would like to have a similar Special Exhibit.

An 1889 Cornerstone Trowel made by Tiffany & Co.

by Ratirat Osiri, Museum Technician

Today’s highlighted artifact is one of the biggest and the oldest trowels in our collection, used in laying the cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Harlem on this day 129 years ago, October 16th, 1889.

It was made out of sterling silver with an ebony handle by the famous Tiffany & Co. The detailed inscription records that the trowel was a gift from Republic Lodge No. 690 to the Rector, George R. Van De Water, and that the Church is located between 127th Street and Fifth Avenue.

The ceremony and the trowel were also mentioned in the following day’s New-York Tribune newspaper:

The cornerstone of the new St. Andrew Protestant Episcopal Church. Fifth-ave. and One-hundred-and-twenty-seventh-st., was laid yesterday with impressive ceremonies. The trowel used by Bishop Potter for putting the stone in place was a solid silver one present to the Rev. Dr. Van de Water, rector of St. Andrew’s, by the Republican Lodge, F. and A.M….Under the cornerstone were placed the two other [corner]stones …1

It is evident that the newspaper reporter mistakenly identified the Lodge as Republican rather than Republic Lodge. Republic Lodge No. 690 was warranted in 1869 and was working up until 1980, at which time it consolidated with Bunting-Charity Lodge No. 727, which is still in existence today.

The same report also revealed that the cornerstone was actually the third cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Church, the first church having been built in 1829 and the second one in 1872 after the first church was burned. The church then relocated to the present location and held the above-described cornerstone-laying ceremony. According to the church’s history, it is the first Episcopal church in East Harlem. 2-5

The important name appearing on the trowel and in the newspaper is George R. Van De Water, the Rector of St. Andrew Church at that time. The Grand Lodge of New York published a sermon of his to be distributed among the Lodges in 1908.6 He was later appointed as the Grand Chaplain of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 1910 to 19177 and delivered several sermons to the Masons during his term of service as Grand Chaplain.8

From the day the cornerstone was laid, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church has been offering services to their patrons and to the Harlem community through generations. We are proud to have in our care this artifact which reflects both the history of New York City and New York Freemasons .


1.  New-York Tribune. (New York [N.Y.]), 17 Oct. 1889. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. 

2. George Roe Van De Water, Project Canterbury 

3. Jacot, Mary A.The Story of the Twenty-Five Years’ Rectorship of George R. Van De Water, (1913).” Transcribed by Wayne Kempton, Project Canterbury, 2013

4 Memorial Minute Drafted by the Committee Appointed by Bishop Manning for the Memorial Service of the Rev. George Roe Van De Water Held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine March 18, 1925.” Transcribed by Wayne Kempton, Project Canterbury, 2012,

5. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Harlem

6. Van de Water, George, Sermon and Address published by order of the Grand Lodge of New York of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York For Distribution Among the Lodges, 1908

7. Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York, 1910 -1917

8. Van de Water, George, A Collection of Sermons, 1908-1914: Masonic Teaching, Bible Truth (1908), The Truth about Freemasonry (1911), The Plumb Line (1912), A Man and a Mason (1913), The Latent Power of Masonry (1914), Masonry and War (1916), Grand Lodge, New York, 1908-1914

Photo Credits:

 Featured Cover Image and Artifact detail: Artifact photo: Ratirat Osiri, Museum Technician

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, courtesy of Wikipedia user Americasroof

George R. Van De Water, courtesy of Project Canterbury


Recent Acquisitions

If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the early history of Freemasonry and its influence of Freemasonry throughout the United States and Europe, visit the library’s reading room to browse our recent acquisitions shelf.

 The 1783 Francken Manuscript  

 Supreme Council,33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction

The 1783 Francken Manuscript is a foundational document of Freemasonry and Scottish Rite that is of notable interest of Masons and historians alike. This volume features essays by, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, and Jeffrey Croteau, 316 full-color images of the original manuscript accompanied by a printed transcription on the adjacent page. While the book does not cover modern ritual this volume enables the reader to develop an understanding of the type of ritual they may have encountered during the genesis of Freemasonry in the United States.  

Exploring Early Grand Lodge Freemasonry

Author, Christoper R. Murphy

This book features eight scholarly essays exploring various aspects of Freemasonry during the early eighteenth century including, early masonic lectures, the role of music and song in Lodge Meetings, speculation regarding religion, and an examination into early lodge culture.  Thus, this compilation of essays helps to understand the begins of the institution of Freemasonry as well as the societal impact of the craft.

Little Lodges on the Prairie 

Author, Tessa Lynn

This book explores the role in which Freemasonry played in the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family.  Lynn worked with records from the Order of The Eastern Star Chapter Laura and her sister Almanzo were a member, in addition to records from the Grand Lodge of South Dakota and the Grand Lodge of Missouri.

Gender and Fraternal Orders in Europe, 1300-2000 

Editor, Máire Fedelma Cross 

A study of religious organizations, Freemasonry, fraternal organizations, and social groups provides insight into the role gender played in the evolution of separate social spheres throughout Europe.

The Spirit of Freemasonry 

Author, Kamel Oussayef

Over twelve independent chapters translated from the original French documents pictured parallel to the type set translation explore Masonic subjects that may be viewed as peculiar to the 21st-century reader.    In addition to the main text, the footnotes provide readers with a  guide to understand the vocabulary, symbols, calendar, rituals, and alphabet utilized throughout Freemasonry.

Contemplative Masonry  

Author, C.R. Dunning Jr.

Expanding on his Guide to The Exploration of Freemasonry Through Contemplative Practices, C.R. Dunning Jr. provides a practical and accessible resource for Masons interested in deepening their self-knowledge through the degrees of Craft Masonry.

American Freemasonry: Its Revolutionary History and Challenging Future

Author, Alain De Keghel 33°

Renowned Masonic researcher, Alain De Keghel examines the rise of Freemasonry in the United States during the Colonial Era by exploring the relationship between Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin and the influence French lodges had on American Freemasonry. Moreover, Keghel investigates the decrease in membership and the efforts being made by the Grand Lodge of California to revitalize membership.

Book of Wisdom 

 Author, Jean Doszedardski, Translated by Kamel Oussayef, 33°

Translated from the original French, this Oussayef’s translation provides insight into the history of Freemasonry in the West Indies during the Late-18th and early 19th Century with documents from Lodge le Choix des Hommes located in San Domingo.

A Sublime Brotherhood 

Authors, Richard B. Burgess, Jeffrey Croteau, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, Jerry A. Roach Jr., and Catherine C. Swanson

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction staff members, Richard B. Burgess, Jeffrey Croteau, Alan E. Foulds, Aimee E. Newell, Jerry A. Roach Jr., and Catherine C. Swanson compiled six chapters with lavish illustrations and prose that presents the history of the events, traditions, meeting places, and members which have encouraged the development of the organization from its beginnings to the present day.

Finding the Early New York Masonic Meeting Places

by Ratirat Osiri, Museum Technician

Back in colonial days, in addition to serving food and wine, taverns also played a major role as the community spot where people came for meetings, social gatherings or making business deals. The early Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York suggest that colonial New York Masons were also important regular patrons of taverns. One of the earliest records of Masonic activity during colonial New York was a public announcement found in The New York Gazette in 1737, signed by Charles Wood, Secretary.

Brethren of the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons are desired to take notice that the Lodge for the future will be held at the Montgomerie-Arms Tavern the first and third Wednesday of every month.
By the order of Grand Master
Charles Wood, Secretary

The only information that I found about the Montgomerie-Arms Tavern was its location, mentioned in the Brotherhood newsletter, wherein it stated that it was “near what is now the northeast corner of Park Row and Pearl Street.” Currently, this corner is now the site of the U.S. District Court – Southern District of New York building. The area is not accessible by (unauthorized) vehicles.

According to the Proceedings, the following announcements in later years also mentioned a few other meeting places such as King’s Arms Tavern in 1753 and Province Arms in 1754.

In Old Taverns of New York, author Bayles W. Harrison explains that King’s Arms Tavern was previously known as Exchange Coffee House or New Coffee House before George Burn took over and dropped its old name in 1751, but the location was vaguely mentioned as “at the foot of Broad Street”. The King’s Arms name was found in the project report of Fraunces Tavern Block of Historic District, pinpointing the exact address of the building as 105 Broad Street, which is the northeast corner between Broad and Water Streets. It is now a deli store on the first floor, sharing the same historic block with the famous Fraunces Tavern.

According to Harrison, Province Arms was one of the biggest and finest taverns in the city, and was also known as the House of Edward Willet, a famous landlord of colonial New York. It was “at the west side of Broadway, between present Thames and Cedar Streets.” This tavern later became the historic Cape’s Tavern of the Evacuation Day. This tavern was named after the keeper, John Cape, who happened to be a Freemason. It later changed its name to City Arms Tavern. Both names appeared in the Annual Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of New York in later years as well, but these different names essentially shared the same location throughout years.

The location is now Trinity Centre Building, right between Trinity Church and Zucotti Park,

How different the city is today, 281 years after that announcement in 1737 by Brother Secretary Charles Wood! And yet, how constant the Fraternity.


– Authority of the Grand Lodge. (1876). Early history and transactions of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, 1781-1815. (Vol. 1). New York: Masonic and Miscellaneous. No. 2 Bleecker Street, D. Sickles &, Managers.

– Thomas, J. L. (Ed.). (1912). Brotherhood (Vol. 1).

– Bayles, W. H. (1915). Old taverns of New York. Retrieved from

– City of New York, Landmarks Preservation Commission. (1978). Fraunces Tavern Block Historic District Designation Report. Retrieved from

– Wilson, J. G. (1893). The Memorial History of the City of New York: From Its First Settlement to the Year 1892 (Vol. 2). Retrieved from

Photographs: Ratirat Osiri

Fraunces Tavern Image Courtesy:

NYC Map: Library of Congress: A plan of the city of New-York & its environs to Greenwich, on the north or Hudsons River, and to Crown Point, on the east or Sound River, shewing the several streets, publick buildings, docks, fort & battery, with the true form & course of the commanding grounds, with and without the town.
Contributor Names:
Montrésor, John, 1736-1799.
Andrews, Peter, active 1765-1782.
Created / Published: [London, 1766]
Call Number/Physical Location: G3804.N4 1766 .M6
Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu Digital Id:
Library of Congress Control Number: gm71000645

My Experience as a Museum Intern

by Ratirat Osiri

It was a privilege to work at the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library, a hidden gem of New York City. My time as an intern here gave me valuable knowledge and wonderful experience … more than I could ever have hoped for. I was assigned to working with the subcollections of trowels and gavels, two important categories of Masonic working tools.

My main responsibility was to catalog, photograph and digitize the trowels and gavels in the museum and to create the digital records for them. Each of the artifacts was examined, measured and photographed before being given a record and catalog number, all by me. These records will be put later into the database for museum use, public access and future research.

I encountered artifacts made of ivory, so I also was able to help with the preservation process of ivory artifacts by rehousing ivory trowels and gavels found within the subcollections to a secure, temperature and humidity controlled storage cabinet. For some ivory artifacts that were previously stored in the cabinet, I also learned how to update their condition records, as the majority of them had been damaged in the past from exposure to light and heat. The cracks they suffered had continued to expand upon their storage, but have now hopefully stabilized in their new environment.

This internship experience was exactly what I am aiming to do in my museum career. With help from my supervisor, I have discovered my potential as a museum professional and learned so many essential skills and experiences from her that are very valuable to me. I was also given a rare opportunity to come across numerous artifacts from very significant figures in American history and I learned a lot more about Freemasonry, an organization with very fascinating members, philosophies and histories.

Note: Ms. Osiri was hired in 2018 to become our part-time Museum Technician after her highly skilled work as our museum intern during her final semester of graduate school in the Fall of 2017.

She was hired as full-time Museum Technician in September of 2018.