What are the Correct Jewels of Office for the Council?
Submitted by MIC John Robert Bowker, Most Illustrious Grand Master of South Carolina

MIC Bowker
MIC John Robert Bowker
Most Illustrious Grand Master of South Carolina

I began my research into the jewels and aprons worn by my Grand Council upon my election to the Grand Captain of the Guard. On that day, I was invested with a jewel and an apron that did not match and upon further examination I found that neither were correct. This sent me on journey to determine the proper jewels and aprons for the officers of my own jurisdiction of South Carolina and subsequently those of other jurisdictions as well. I discovered that there is a large difference among the several Grand Jurisdictions perhaps because of personal choice, and that our vendors have determined what was correct rather than following the established guidelines. Perhaps, they have through the items sold to us, changed our perception of what is correct. This is what I simply refer to as the “tail wagging the dog.” I have, in fact, attempted to purchase the correct jewels, as described below, from several major vendors and have found a stiff reluctance to change. They simply have no need to change their supply if the demand remains the same. I present this not as a piece claiming complete and utter authority of all that is proper but rather a means by which to instill thought and discussion concerning this topic and perhaps change that demand through education.

To determine a baseline for this endeavor, I utilized “Cryptic Masonry. A Manual of the Council” as published by Albert G. Mackey, M.D. in 1867. In this work, a framework has been set forth for the Ceremonies of the Order. These include Consecration of a New Council (Section I), the Annual Installation of the Officers of the Council (Section II), and the Installation of the Officers of a Grand Council (Section III). In these ceremonies the jewels of the offices are illustrated and clearly define the jewels of the individual officers. All the jewels illustrated are the specific badges contained with a triangle joined with a trowel. The only exception to this is listed below. The Grand Officers jewels are the same as the local council but are contained within a circle and are more commonly represented by a wreath. Following below are the illustrations provided in Mackey’s work and a brief explanation of each, and on a few, pictures of original jewels that I have found over the years.

The individual Council’s Illustrious Master, listed by Mackey as Thrice Illustrious, is depicted as a square and compass and the Grand Council’s referred to as Most Puissant is the same.

Thrice Illustrious Master Jewels

The next in a local council is the Deputy Master. Mackey calls this officer the Illustrious Hiram of Tyre and is a level within a triangle. It is important to note that many jurisdictions have a level surmounted by a crown. This, I believe, was a result of the vendors affixing a trowel on the R.A.M. King’s jewel and calling it a R. & S. M. Deputy jewel, simplifying the production and process for them.

Deputy Master Jewels

The third in the local council is the Principal Conductor of the Work and is illustrated as a plumb within a triangle. Many jurisdictions have a turban atop the plumb, and it is important to note, once again, that it is simply the R.A.M.’s Scribe jewel, to which a trowel has been added.

Principal Conductor of the Work Jewels

The Treasurer and Recorder follow with the crossed keys and crossed quills, respectively.

Treasurer and Recorder Jewels

The Captain of the Guards (Mackey originally has this with the “s” at the end) jewel is illustrated as a battle axe with the handle to the upper left and axe head to the lower right. It is a minor difference, but most vendors provide for this jewel with the axe head to the upper left and the handle to the lower right.

Captain of the Guard Jewels

The Conductor of the Council is a baton within a triangle.

Conductor of the Council Jewels

A Steward’s jewel is illustrated as two crossed sabers, with the handles up and blades down. Many jurisdictions utilize the crossed swords with the handles down and the tips up. However, this appears to be the jewel of the Royal Arch’s Sentinel with a trowel.

Steward Jewels

No illustrations are provided for a local council’s Marshall or Chaplain, as they are not in the ceremony, but both are shown in the Installation of a Grand Council. The Grand Marshall’s jewel is that of a baton which going from lower left to upper right atop a scroll. The Grand Chaplain’s jewel is the Open Book, however, there is no trowel upon this jewel.

Marshall and Chaplain Jewels

To this point I have specifically limited this article to those that Mackey had illustrated in the Manual of the Council to lay a groundwork upon which to begin a discussion concerning these jewels. However, further clarification of these jewels, as well as others, can be found in the 1900, 7th General Grand Council Triennial Proceedings, as well the 1903, 1906, 1909, 1912, and 1915 Triennial Proceedings in which it states in Aprons, Dress, and Jewels, that “the jewels for the respective Grand Officers are distinguished by the use of the following emblems placed within the triangle:

The Square and Compass joined with the Trowel, for the Most Illustrious Grand Master.

The Level joined with the trowel, for the Illustrious Deputy Grand Master.

The Plumb, joined with the Trowel, for the Right Illustrious Grand Principal Conductor.

The Open Book, for the Right Illustrious Grand Chaplin.

The Cross-keys joined with Trowel, for the Right Illustrious Grand Treasurer.

The Cross-pens joined with Trowel, for the Right Illustrious Grand Recorder.

The Battle-Ax joined with Trowel for the Illustrious Grand Captain of the Guard.

The Baton joined with Trowel, for the Illustrious Grand Conductor of the Council.

The Cross-swords joined with Trowel, for the Illustrious Grand Steward.

The Sword joined with the Trowel, for the Illustrious Grand Sentinel.”

Here are some of the illustrations of these jewels as found in the proceedings:

Proceedings Jewels One
Proceedings Jewels Two

Additionally, the jewels of the officers of the subordinate councils are listed as:

“The Square and Compass joined with the Trowel, for the Thrice Illustrious Master.

The Level joined with the trowel, for the Illustrious Deputy Master.

The Plumb, joined with the Trowel, for the Right Illustrious Principal Conductor of the Work.

The Cross-keys joined with Trowel, for the Treasurer.

The Cross-pens joined with Trowel, for the Recorder.

The Battle-Ax joined with Trowel for the Captain of the Guard.

The Baton joined with Trowel, for the Conductor of the Council.

The Cross-swords joined with Trowel, for the Steward.

The Sword joined with the Trowel, for the Sentinel.”

I hope that this article inspires at least a few of our Companions to investigate the question of “What are the Correct Jewels of a Council?” As we can see, many changes have been made by both the craft as well as those by the suppliers of the actual jewels over the years. Perhaps it is time to examine that which were originally intended to preserve. Our council jewels were never intended to simply be an off shoot of the Royal Arches jewels with a Trowel glued to the front. They were and are meant to be distinct and individual to our own purposes and designs. If we, as a group, start to require our vendors to follow our established guidelines perhaps then they will produce what we ask for and the dog can once again wag the tail.