by Bryan Bechler
General Grand Recorder
I joined Freemasonry in 1994 and soon discovered the myriad types of Masonic regalia associated with the fraternity. From lapel pins to aprons, sashes to ribbons, the more bodies I joined the more I saw. I have a tremendous appreciation for people who have the creative talent to design things (probably because I’m not one of them). We have lapel pins for a variety of reasons. We can meet someone for the first time and see by what they’re wearing what bodies they belong to or if they’ve served as a grand officer. It’s a way to break the ice and develop a dialogue.
Aprons have a tremendous history, going back well over 200 years. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, colors and decorations. Some are simple, some ornate. In some jurisdictions sashes are used in conjunction with the aprons in some bodies and can vary in decorations.
Like a lot of people, I’ve been collecting these items for several years. For a long time my pins were put into bags, cans, or whatever I could find to store them. I finally decided they needed to be displayed. Going through years’ worth of pins took some time and I found a number of duplicates. If you think about just how many different Masonic bodies there are, it doesn’t take long to realize how many varieties of pin designs, colors, shapes, etc., there are out there. Multiply that by the changes done each year in the local area, state, province or country, you end up with literally thousands of them.
I opted to put together a 16x20” board, covered in raw, black silk to hold the pins. It makes a great backdrop and the colors really pop on the matte black background. They don’t take up a lot of wall space and can hold dozens of pins. All of the extra pins that I have I will occasionally take with me to sell with the proceeds being donated to the C.M.M.R.F.
But what to do with all of this Masonic regalia we’ve collected over the years is something we usually don’t think about. When I was the Most Illustrious Grand Master of Washington, the Grand Recorder at the time contacted me to see if I wanted him to bid on a Past Cryptic Grand Master apron from Washington on eBay. Fortunately, he was able to purchase it. Not two weeks later another one came up for auction and that one was procured as well. These aprons are part of our history and while there are thousands of items available for purchase on auction web sites, it’s gratifying (and disheartening at the same time) to find part of our history up for sale.
The more bodies you belong to the more items you acquire. Many of us have family members who are active in the craft, but others have no family that are the least bit interested. Oftentimes when the G.A.O.T.U. calls us home, family members don’t know what to do with all of the items we’ve collected over the years. These items which we’ve collected over many years have the potential of ending up in the trash, being donated to Goodwill, or sold off.
Each of us should have our desires spelled out as to what to do with the items. I’ve taken pictures of mine, coupled with a description in a notebook with instructions on who is to get it (it could be a close Brother, a lodge, a library, etc.)
We’ve spent years collecting these items that are important to us. We should ensure that they will be around for others to enjoy after we’re gone.
Recently I had the honor of joining the Grand Master of Washington and our General Grand Chaplain in presenting Illustrious Companion Wayne Deming with his 65 year pin - as a CRYPTIC MASON! We need to make sure that his experiences in Masonry are secured in our vaults and available for future generations!