Masonic sash, ca. 1782
Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004
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Photo by Peter Harholdt, 2004

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The sash has a history of having belonged to Franklin, and of being worn by him during the years he was active in French Freemasonry in the Lodge of the Nine Muses ("La Loge des Neuf Soeurs").

A red border 1/4-inch wide frames the face of the sash, which is embroidered with many of the symbols associated with Freemasonry. At its top are three stars (approximately 1 1/4 inches in diameter, each) positioned in the shape of a triangle. Each star has gold thread and sequins with a central sequin. Beneath the stars is a large (approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter) sunburst with a central medallion of the sun's face. Like the stars, the sunburst is made of sequins and gold thread. Below the sunburst is a temple (2/14-inch high, 3 inches wide) whose door appears to have had red fabric beneath the gold decoration. Below the temple is a small trowel and a replica of a 24-inch measuring gauge on the left and a mallet and a chisel on the right. Just below the tools is a plumb bob (approximately 2 1/2 inches wide). Under that, the initials "J" and "B" frame a large cluster of leaves (4 7/8 inches high, 3 1/8 inches wide). The bouquet has a ribbon at the base, from which descend the two arms of a pair of compasses. The compass points overlie the bars of a builder's square (3 1/4 inches wide) with the letter M within the angle formed by the two sides. Silver sequins and red silk fabric decorate the center of the square. Below this are placed two stars, similar to those at the top of the sash. At the base of the sash, near the fold, is the remnants of a red thread sunburst (perhaps a tassel?).

The records of the Masonic Temple at Philadelphia include the following: "A Masonic Collar which is reputed to have been the collar of Brother Benjamin Franklin and worn by him as the "Venerable" (Worshipful) of the Loge des IX Soeurs (Lodge of the Nine Sisters or Muses) in the year 1782. Brother Pike acquired this collar on one of his Masonic visitations to Paris about the year 1871." [Taken from Abstract of the Proceedings of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania, 1950.] Terms of Use Credits