Freemasonry is about rendering in symbol and allegory that which words alone cannot render. And a visual image gives us a way of using our own insight to decode the message. The tracing boards are there to do just that — from their original function of laying out the plan of the building, they have developed into a means for us to lay out the message, and then to profit by it.
In a sense, this book is written back-to-front; Julian Rees examines the three Craft tracing boards first, laying out the allegories and symbols, then, as an adjunct, the Author takes a short look at the history of their development, looking at some older forms of the tracing boards in use long before the present-day Emulation boards were developed. After that the book looks at practices in other Masonic jurisdictions and other countries. But the first three chapters of this book deal with the Emulation tracing boards, since they are the most commonly used in England. The tracing boards used in the Emulation Lodge of Improvement in London were designed and painted by John Harris in 1845 and measure approximately 183 cm (6 ft) by 91 cm (3 ft), measurements which have an allegorical significance in the third degree. Although these boards were painted by Harris expressly for the Emulation Lodge of Improvement, many copies of them were made, and these are the images reproduced in the ritual and lecture books of the Emulation working. However, it is interesting to note that a mere four years later, in 1849, Harris painted a different set in which, most importantly, a significant change was made to the second degree board, which is mentioned in this book in the chapter dealing with that degree.
When the building of the new Freemasons’ Hall in London was completed in 1933, the boards commissioned for use in the individual lodge rooms were of a different design, reflecting the art deco influence of the period. The architects were commissioned to produce a new design on a simplified basis which would be more suitable for reproduction.
This excellent book is richly illustrated and features tracing boards never before seen outside museums.
It’s a must for your personal or Lodge masonic library.
Format 280 x 215
Extent 214 pages
Publisher: Lewis Masonic, 2009