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"glass, a gridiron, were doubtless meant as trade "marks, none are probably later than 1800."
It appears to me tolerably clear that the term "entered apprentice " simply meant that the young mason having been taken as or bound an apprentice, was formally entered as one, in the book of the lodge (mark book) used for that purpose, and at the same time entered the craft and the lodge.
Each lodge in Scotland, then, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries kept an independent book, in which was registered the name, generally the mark, and the profession or trade of every member, and each newly-entered apprentice. It seems probable that this was the custom in England, although I do not think it would be safe to assume that in all the different customs of the craft, the usage was identical in both countries.
The above are only a few of the entries I have selected as throwing some light on the manner in which the marks were obtained in later times. It must not, however, be forgotten that they are none of them earlier than the end of the sixteenth century. From them it would appear that no general rule was followed; sometimes the candidate made the choice for himself, but if not able to do so, it was probably done for him by someone present at or before his admission into the lodge. One thing seems certain, that the apprentice could possess a mark as his personal property, but whether during his apprenticeship he was permitted to mark the stones he prepared, is not equally clear. Chalmers states (Achcsologia, xxxiv. pp. 33, &c.) that " if it should happen that two masons meeting "at the same work from distant parts should have "the same mark, then one must for a time assume "a distinction or, as heralds say, ' a difference.'" If this statement is correct, it follows that in fairly modern times the marks were entirely personal, and that it was quite possible for two masons coming from different parts to have the same mark. Unless, however, there was a great central authority or authorities in well-marked districts, who were careful in their records, and in communication with the various lodges, there might be endless contusion. Nothing would exist to prevent the new comer above mentioned, on moving to another lodge, reverting to his original mark before it was differenced, for it is said only to have been assumed for a time. Supposing a similar event to have happened to both the workmen, there would be in use at the same time two marks exactly the same, used by two different masons; also two differenced marks formed on the same original, and, like Falstaff's rogues in buckram, really belonging to and used bv onlv two workmen. This confusion might easily be increased. Fortunately, however, for those who study masons' marks such cases would be rare. It seems to me also unlikely, considering the manner of thought in early days, and the respect which I believe then existed for marks, that one mason would knowingly assume the mark of another. Still, cases of two men having the same mark must have occurred, at least in recent times, otherwise the rule or custom of differencing would not have existed. From the period when the marks were cut on the bed of the stone and not on the face, such a complication would be of little consequence, as at that time marks had probably lost whatever symbolism they possessed in earlier times, and had been degraded to little better than a mere mark for his tools or check on the mason's work with respect to his wages.
It is stated that the present usage is to some extent the same (Gwilt, Encyclopedia of Architecture, 1876, p. 131). "On large works a list is kept of "them [the marks] by the foremen, and any new "man having a mark similar to one already on the "list, has to make a distinctive difference. An "eminent practical mason assured us that from the "character of the mark, he could tell at once the "kind of stone on which it was made."
This distinction of stones appears to point to a distinction of marks; i.e., a difference in the marks belonging to each grade, of workmen, unless it resulted simply from the manner of cutting the mark, and the tool with which the stones were finished. Mr. Chalmers writes (Archaologia, xxxiv. p. 33, &c.), the rule that every mason should have a distinctive mark " and should affix it to every "stone hewn by him," was strictly enforced in the district of Brechin. "And even now," he adds, "when many men are collected together on a work, "the rule is observed, though not with so much "strictness." The law at Brechin was also that every mason should register his mark in the lodge book, "and he could not change that mark at "pleasure."
The list of workmen's marks, now kept by the foreman of any large works, of course has no other use, I imagine, than to distinguish the work of one man from that of another, a large work not now being the same as the more ancient lodge.
The present usage is more fully stated by Mr. Whitley, in his paper on masons' marks read before the Archaeological Institute at Leamington (Leamington Spa Courier, 11th August, 1888). The modern custom is for each mason to have a separate and distinct mark, " a register being kept "by the chief foreman wherein every man's name "and mark were entered side by side. Each man "as he finishes his work at the banker, places his "mark upon the stone before it leaves the shed. "The banker is the stone-bed or bench upon which "a mason works. These marks have been called "banker-marks, and perhaps the name is more "appropriate than that of masons' marks, as the "setters, who are usually selected from amongst the "best workmen, make no marks upon the stone."
In considering the question of the usages and customs of modern times, compared with those of an older period, one important event must not be forgotten. The " Reformation " swept away many of the splendid old institutions, and at the same time, in removing the necessity for the magnificent buildings of old, so disorganised the craft of masons, that many of their rules and customs no doubt fell into abeyance. In my opinion, this movement took away the power of masonic authority, and to a great extent caused the breaking up of the lodges, large and small.
In the Act of the 2nd and 3rd of Edward VI., 1548,—" And it is ordeyned and enacted by "thauctorite aforesaid, that noe p [er] son or "p[er]sons shall at anye tyme after the firste daye "of Aprill next comynge, interrupte denye lett or "disturb any Freemason roughmason carpenter "bricklayer playsterer joyner hardhewer sawyer "tyler pavyer glasyer lymeburner brickmaker tyle"maker plumber or laborer, borne in this Realme "or made Denizon, to worke at anye of the saide "Crafts in anye cittie Boroughe or Town corporate "with anye p[er]son or p [er] sons that will retain "him or them; albeit the sayde pferjson and "p[er]sons so reteyned or any of them do not "inhabyte or dwell in the Cittie Boroughe or "Towne corporate where he or they shall worke, "nor be free of the same Cittie Boroughe or "towne," &c.
It is unnecessary here to enter into the question of the statutes relating to building trades;* but the above coming soon after the incursion of foreign workmen into this country, must have had great effect upon the building trades generally.
2 Those wishing to pursue this subject may refer to Gould's History of Freemasonry, Vol. I., chap vii., pp. 328-380.
The process, it is true, was, of necessity, gradual; it finally resulted, nevertheless, in quite a different system being formed in carrying forward the craft of masonry. Each mason became more of an individual, and to a large extent lost that esprit de corps and united interest in the work which existed before. For this reason it seems probable that though some lodges survived the general downfall of the craft-system and retained in a more or less perfect condition the older teachings, the customs of the present time cannot be implicitly relied on as a guide to the rules of an earlier period.
That certain ancient usages have been handed down seems not unlikely. A curious instance of this was pointed out so far back as the year 1843. (Letter from J. J., Builder, vol. i., p. 424.) Ten columns of Sienna marble had been brought to this country from Herculaneum. They were of the Corinthian Order, and were used in a building in England. The writer of the letter says that a modern mason in working a column puts his mark on the front of the head, to denote the handsomest and soundest front, no matter whether it is at a diagonal line or no, and this he found to be invariably the case on the columns from Herculaneum. On four of the columns was a geometrical mark— an acute-angled triangle resting on the base of an equilateral triangle (reversed and divided vertically by a line'); two of them had the addition of an horizontal line on the sinister side from the lowest point of the equilateral triangle. Three bore the Greek delta, and different Greek characters were on the others.
The question of central authority is too extensive to be dealt with at the present time. Prof.