Thursday, 7 April 2016

Masonic Lithographs

Masonic lithographs, such as the ones that appear on the book below, became common in the 19th century, appearing on especially printed lodge summonses and menus, letter headed paper, books and pamphlets. John Christie, the Newcastle based lithographer and engraver was obviously advertising his wares on the book below, as there are no other Masonic references in regard to the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, or indeed within the book itself.

John Christie died in 1888. His remaining stock was sold.

H.W. Caslon & Co. Ltd, based in London, published this catalogue of types and borders in 1922, the catalogue including a range of Masonic symbols for the customer to choose from. These Masonically decorated letters, summonses, menus or pamphlets would give that personal touch to the product.  For official Masonic business, the letter heads and borders would provide an elegant aspect to the correspondence.

The specimens presented above, taken from the Caslon catalogue, reveals the array of symbolism one could choose from for the personalised letter headed paper, lodge summonses or menus. Offices such as Master, Junior or Senior Warden are represented, along with Secretary and Treasurer.

The catalogue also offers 'Masonic Borders' to give the product that finished touch, giving the page that pleasing and aesthetic feel. Two types of colours are also presented. The range of stylistic symbols are striking; gavels and trowels, square and compasses, all enlaced with intricate decoration.

And here is an example from a 1935 local private publication, using a symbol that was specially designed for the lodge by the printer on the cover. These Masonic lithographs certainly gave an elegant style to the printed work of the 19th and early 20th century, something that has become less common with the introduction of home computers and printers. There is nothing better than a professionally printed Masonic letter head on quality watermarked paper.

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