Masonic jewels are an important
part of the history of the Craft,
as David Heathcote explains.
The Martin Folkes Medal;
The Sackville Medal;
Jewels of the Craft Founders Jewel 1990;
Aldershot Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners No.54
Jewels of the Craft
Masonic ritual informs every brother that
he should be a promoter of the Art. Indeed,
it should be his duty to make that daily
advancement, not only in our knowledge,
but for the benefit of those brethren who
That was the central theme of the
Jewels of the Craft principal founder,
The idea first took flight in March
1990 when he wrote to the Masonic
“…I would be happy to hear from any
brother who might like to form or be included in
… a circle for the mutual exchange of information
Examples of what, you ask? The answer:
Masonic jewels, or to the lay person, medals
of our Orders – and so Jewels of the Craft
Study and Collectors Circle was formed.
Constituted in June 1990 at Freemasons’
Hall, London, with the aim of promoting
the study and collecting of Masonic jewels
of all degrees, the Circle began life with a
It had a strong founding membership,
with replies from interested Masons from
many Provinces supported by a strong
knowledge base, with the initial subscription
list boasting curators of four Provincial
Today, the Circle has over 300 members
worldwide, admission being open to Master
Masons who have an interest in Masonic
research within the numismatic world.
Initial meetings took place in London, but
it soon became apparent that a more central
location was required, and so the Circle
found its home in Birmingham at Stirling
Road, Edgbaston. Many of its members are
also in the Mark Token Collectors Club and
the Masonic Philatelist Club.
The first ‘scientific’ British account of
Masonic jewels appeared in 1901, entitled
‘The medals (commemorative or historical) of
British Freemasonry’, by George Shackles.
This slim, but important volume has since
proved a valuable source of knowledge
for Masonic researchers. The earliest
jewel known to British Freemasonry – the
Sackville medal – was struck in Florence in
1733, suggesting that Charles Sackville, later
Duke of Dorset, became Master of a Lodge
during his stay in Florence in that year.
It may seem strange that the earliest
Masonic jewels were from continental
Brethren. The first jewel to be struck by
an English Lodge in England would appear
to date from around 1772, although a French
Lodge working in London may
have preceded that date by six years.
The second oldest Masonic medal is
attributed to Martin Folkes, Deputy Grand
Master between 1724 and 1725, and he
was to be the subject of a jewel in 1742.
During his life Folkes was acknowledged
as a leading authority on English coins,
and after his death in 1754 the sale of his
collections, including books and medals,
took 56 days at auction! Hence the early
jewels were born, not to be displayed with
regalia, but issued to commemorate notable
events and dates.
A useful definition of how to view our
numismatic history can be found in a work
entitled Dialogues on the usefulness of Ancient
Medals by Joseph Addison (1672-1719).
He states: “You are not to look upon a Cabinet of
Medals as a treasure of money, but of knowledge”.
Thomas Harper Lodge Summons
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