Masonic Items on eBay

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Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Noble A Toast » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:08 pm

While browsing on websites like eBay, I have noticed there are often 'Masonic Bundles', 'Masonic Antiques', 'Masonic Medals', and 'Masonic Silverware' etc... for sale. Obviously, this is frustrating, as these sort of items should either be held as family heirlooms, passed to another Brother, be returned to the Lodge in question, or sent to the Province if the Lodge no longer exists.

As someone who is still new to the Craft (I: April 2017), just for my own knowledge, do any organised initiatives exist to:
1) Ensure items are not sold after a brother either leaves the craft or passes to the Grand Lodge above.
2) Identify the items that unfortunately end up on sale, then contacting the seller, advising the lodge in question, or purchasing the items to return to their rightful place.

Thank you in advance.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby eric384 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:31 pm

There's a variety of reasons this happens - member no longer active, maybe gone unattached, family don't know what to do with it, no immediate family, so the whole contents of a house gets done in a house clearance job lot etc.

There is a Masonic items on ebay closed group where Scottish Masonic items are highlighted and I believe there is a degree of success in stopping members of the same Lodge bidding against one another.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Trouillogan » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:37 pm

There are two sides to the disposal of items following the death of a brother.

1. A widow and/or family may be in need of some ready cash.
2. Some jewels might actually be lodge or provincial property.

In the first case, it's a delicate subject at a traumatic time and contact over the subject needs the utmost delicacy. Attempts to block the sale could be seen as cruel interference.
In the second case there's probably little that can be done other than keeping a watchful eye open.

An instance came up a few years ago when a companion saw a PZ jewel belonging to a very old chapter with which he was familiar. He knew the chapter had none of the original ones, so he bid. When the bidding time was nearly up, he saw there was another bid - so he bid again - and again - and again. He was determined to get it to return to the chapter. His final bid was successful and he attended the chapter to present it. In doing so, he described the circumstances. After the presentation, the SE stood and admitted that he was the one bidding too, hence the escalation in price! Of course they didn't know at the time. As it happened, the widow was actually quite well off but of course they wouldn't dream of mentioning it to her. In any case, she would have no idea what it was anyway. If the widow had been in poverty she would have been very pleased indeed with the result. If the sale had been successfully blocked, that would have left her in need and with a bad feeling about freemasonry. I think a lesson to be drawn here is generally to let things take their course.

Yes, things can be labelled but that won't always happen and labels can become separated from the objects. Also, modern masonic jewels are mostly of plated base metal and almost worthless on the market.

Our motto Audi, Vide, Tace is probably quite appropriate here!
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby wayne cowley » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:10 pm

Funnily enough I have just "rescued" such an item - a plate that was produced to mark the silver anniversary of my lodge in 1995. When I asked the seller where he had obtained it he said it was from an auction - he thought it came from a house clearance

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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Mike Martin » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:46 pm

Noble A Toast wrote: While browsing on websites like eBay, I have noticed there are often 'Masonic Bundles', 'Masonic Antiques', 'Masonic Medals', and 'Masonic Silverware' etc... for sale. Obviously, this is frustrating, as these sort of items should either be held as family heirlooms, passed to another Brother, be returned to the Lodge in question, or sent to the Province if the Lodge no longer exists.

Sometimes we seem to feel a little "over protective" of the ephemera and/or "white elephants" that surround Freemasonry and wish to attach to them a provenance that just doesn't really exist. This is exactly why non-Masonic sellers seem to ask ridiculous prices for items that they perceive to be (some of it isn't even) "Masonic" even when they are clearly just old tat.

A perfect example is the old Regalia of a fallen brother and many widows have been put through to me (in my Grand Charity days) so that I could tactfully explain that only pieces of historic significance should be posted to the Library and Museum and that I am certain that the Lodge would be thrilled to receive back any Past Master's Jewel that may be in his old case and that the widow in question could mention it to the Lodge Almoner who I will get to contact her ASAP.

Noble A Toast wrote: As someone who is still new to the Craft (I: April 2017), just for my own knowledge, do any organised initiatives exist

I'm not aware of any organisation but individual Freemasons do do it. I was contacted a couple of years ago by someone to tell me that a Mersey PM jewel had surfaced on Ebay, we also have had 2 brothers attend to present PM Jewels back to us (one of whom like us so much he is going through the Chair next year) and I am planning to visit a Lodge later this year to present one of its PM Jewels back to it.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Scott1984 » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:04 pm

I don’t see any issue with items being sold online as long as they were solely the possession of the Bro and not lodge items.


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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Trouillogan » Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:33 am

In this connection, do remember that Hall Stone collarette jewels are the property of Grand Lodge only and should be return thereto.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Stevecoath » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:18 am

Certain precautions can be taken with these.
I have an original PM Silver Jewel from my Lodge and an original PZ jewel from my Chapter.
In my regalia case is a letter requesting that should I pass these are to be returned to my Lodge and Chapter as they belong to them respectively.
Likewise my Active collar jewel.
All my other regalia is my son's to do with as they see fit.

There have been several cases over the years when we have been approached by family of members who left years ago and never kept in touch, offering to sell the Lodge these original jewels and asking ridiculous amounts of money for what is in effect our own property.

We do try to recycle the original jewels and each is engraved with the names of the holders but there have been cases where upon being asked if they can return their original founding members precious metal jewel (as it should no longer be worn upon being awarded Provincial Honours) complete with the engraved names, members have refused on the grounds it was presented to them and is theirs to do with as they will.

Those jewels will probably end up on ebay before being melted down for scrap.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Richard George » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:53 am

Actually Founders jewels belong to the individual (founder) as they are purchased by the founders themselves. I'm a founder.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Trouillogan » Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:03 pm

Richard George wrote:Actually Founders jewels belong to the individual (founder) as they are purchased by the founders themselves. I'm a founder.

Not always - depends on the lodge. Some provide them, some sell them to founders.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Richard George » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:07 pm

Curious - especially as the funds for the formation of the lodge come from the founders.!
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Stevecoath » Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:53 pm

Richard George wrote:Curious - especially as the funds for the formation of the lodge come from the founders.!


Now that reinforces the point I was making earlier.
All of our original jewels were donated to the Lodge by the Founders when they could no longer wear them, to be recycled for new Past Masters.
Now many years later some current recipients have laid permanent claim to these.

I have seen one Lodge Bylaws where it states that the DC is responsible for holding all the PM jewels not currently being worn and is to maintain a register of each one.
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Re: Masonic Items on eBay

Postby Richard George » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:26 am

If that's the case, then they belong to the lodge. Now, the following question is: when they were subsequently presented, were they loaned or given to the recipients and was the distinction made clear to the recipient? If it wasn't, then I suspect that in law, as it's presented "in recognition for services to the lodge during your year as master" they'd be forgiven for believing it belongs to them (or their families would) - especially if there's no other name on the jewel. Perhaps in future it would be wise to emphasis that it is a loan, and is to be returned to the lodge when they are no longer entitled - or able to wear it - and to ask them to make sure the family knows to return it.
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