[Square & Compasses]

The Letter G

Date: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 22:09:08 +0200
From: Jacques Huyghebaert <jacques@huyghebaert.org>
Subject: Re: letter "G"

critchlow@pathway.net wrote:

> I am trying the research the Masonic symbol in regard to the
> letter "G" in the center of the square and compass. In the
> U.S. the letter "G" was inserted sometime after the Civil War in
> the 1860's, however I understand that any portrait of Burns in
> regalia the square and compasses invariably encloses a letter "G"
> and was Depute Master of St James in 1784. Is it true England does
> not use the Letter "G" in their Masonic symbol, but Scotland does?
> Any information on the above would be most helpful.
> 
> Nevin Critchlow

According to W.Bro. Jay Callaham <jay-callaham@worldnet.att.net> on Freemasonry-list the oldest representation of the "G" inside of the S&C in the USA is an ink and watercolour drawing by John Johnson, done in 1773. It is a drawing of the Green Dragon Tavern on Union Street in Boston -- where W. Bro. Paul Revere and other noted American revolutionaries met. The original is in the possession of the American Antiquarian Society and a picture (black & white) may be seen in the book _Paul Revere's Ride_ by David Hackett-Fisher, Oxford University Press, 1994, pg 53.

I observed that Benjamin Frankin's private seal, which he used while he was residing in Paris, and is now privately owned by Dominique Libert at Reuil-Malmaison, France, also carries a G in the Square & Compass

A photograph of the seal is displayed at p.161 of the 1993 Brussels Masonic Exhibition catalogue. The bronze and silver seal handle has a Masonic design in the form of an oval having the square, compas, quadrant and the letter G in the middle. The seal matrix itself is made of stone and has only the effigy of Benjamin Franklin in recess engraved.

Bro Gus Elbert <gelbert@intrepid.net> has remarked that in "Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts", published in 1976 by the Scottish Rite Museum of our National Heritage (U.S.A.), there is a picture (Item No. 10) ofa gilded brass piece cast by Paul Revere and dated 1796. This specimen consists of the three interlaced items, Square, Compasses and G. Surrounded by a cable tow.

I have noted that engravings of several Irish 18th century Masonic medals bearing the letter G,S & C can be seen in "The History of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ireland" Vol.1, by John Heron Lepper and Philip Crossle, 1925, Lodge of Research, CC., Dublin. Ref.pp.98, 224, 248, 255, 292, 309. I must add that the use of the letter G is not systematic, for there are also medals bearing the Square and Compass(es) without the letter G.

Finally let me state that pictures showing the use of the letter G and more often of the blazing star surmounted by the letter G within the Square and Compass(es) in continental Europe can be observed in "Histoire generale de la Franc-Maconnerie by Paul Naudon, 1981, Office du Livre, Fribourg. ref. pp.82,96,144 and also in "La Franc-Maconnerie et l'Europe du XVIIIe siecle nos jours", catalogue de l'exposition l'Hotel de Ville, 1993, Edition du Perron, Brussels. ref.p.110,116,138.

Fraternal greetings from Prague
Jacques


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