5.22.2014

Antique Spotlight - Masonic Orb

I don't know about you guys, but I have always been fascinated by things left unexplained. I guess you could say that I enjoy a bit of mystery. Enigmas almost always have intriguing back stories, and as someone who loves antiques, a great back story is everything. 




There is perhaps no other club that provides more secrecy, rumours, and conspiracy theories than the Freemasons. Basically the world's largest fraternity, the Masons club roster reads like a who's-who of world history: George Washington, Mozart, and Winston Churchill were all members of the elusive society. 


Despite having big names as members, surprisingly little is known about the Masons, so when I found antique Masonic Orbs on my travels, I knew I had to bring it back with me. 

Masonic Orbs, or fobs, were common among Freemasons in 19th century Europe. They were often attached to a chain and were hung from a man's pocket. But what is so interesting about these orbs is the detail that went in to making them. Just like the the Freemasons themselves, the Masonic Orb is layered, it has secrets that aren't apparent to the naked eye. In it's rounded position, it is reminiscent of a "Ballot Ball" members would use during Masonic voting, but, because it wouldn't be Masonic if there wasn't more to it than what meets the eye, it can also be opened into a cross:

Each section of the cross is shaped like a pyramid. The rounded base is gold, but the pyramids themselves are oxidized silver. To add further detail (and secrecy), the cross itself is invisible from the outside, due to the arrangement of it's hinges. As a result, unknowing bystanders remained unaware of the Masonic symbolism around them. This detail and mystery makes me think of what kind of symbolism I could be missing on a daily basis! 



Whenever I show the Masonic Orb to people in the store (which I do often, because I can't get over how incredible it is), they all respond with the same amazement in their voice. It is the great pleasure of my job to tell the layered stories of antique pieces, and the Masonic Orb epitomizes that sentiment. 

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