During the Autumn of 1994 it was suggested that a Lodge of Research should be formed from Jewels of the Craft, but also to incorporate members of the Masonic Philatelic Society and the Mark Token Collectors Club should they wish to join, or indeed become Founders. It appeared from the start, that the name of Thomas Harper should be used for the new Lodge. What better way of commemorating the life and work of that great Mason, than by naming a Lodge in his honour – a Lodge that would study jewels.
Several committee meetings were held and it was resolved that the Lodge should be based at Birmingham but be peripatetic, meeting twice in other places throughout the English Constitution. It was also agreed that the Installation be at Stirling Road, Edgbaston, and the other two meetings be held at the discretion of the Master, one north of Birmingham, the other south. It was felt that the term ‘collector’s lodge’ should be avoided, as the Lodge was to be a proper Lodge of Research, mainly of jewels, but also of other Masonic memorabilia including regalia, stamps, coins, books, even items such as Masonic postcards.
Indeed, right from the start, the Lodge appointed two Officers not normally found in other Lodges, nor even in the Book of Constitutions: a Lodge Historian, an honorary office rather than an appointment, and the second is the Lodge Orator. There were one or two other Lodges who had such an Officer (prior to its reintroduction by Grand Lodge in 2007) and his jewel is a snake biting its tail. The Orator’s role was to give a paper in the Lodge, and also to other Lodges, when it was hoped that they would make a charitable donation in the name of Thomas Harper Lodge. The first Master selected by the Committee, and much to his surprise, was WBro. DK Rhodes PAGDC – a jeweller and silversmith – and again, what better choice than a jeweller?
The Lodge Summons was taken from an 18th Century summons – each having the Lodge badge embossed individually and individually signed by the Secretary. On the front is a copy of the only known portrait of Thomas Harper, a miniature by Whiston and Brine of Southsea, now in the possession of Quatuor Coronati Lodge.
The Offices are not progressive except that the Junior Warden progresses to the Chair, and the IPM is appointed Tyler, irrespective of his rank. The Master must ensure that the JW whom he selects is a PM, and has given service to the Lodge, either in one of the ‘static’ Offices, or having been the Orator, and the Master must deliver an original paper of his choice during his year in office. A further difference is that each Master has to choose a project for his year, all the proceeds being given to Charity. The first project was a firing glass, which is used at every Festive Board, unless Ladies are present. All the conditions listed above were to ensure that the Lodge would retain its original unique character of research and be not just another Lodge with an easy route to the Chair.
The then Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire gave his blessing, and the Lodge consecrated on 22nd June 1996 at Edgbaston. The Lodge immediately donated £1,000 to the Province’s 2001 MTGB Festival, much to the delight of the PrGM, who then overlooked the Lodge appointing an Orator! Naturally, the Founders decided that they simply must have a Jewel which is a replica of a jewel made by Thomas Harper, incorporating a square, level and a plumb with a stone in each. Each Founder’s Jewel is numbered, together with a tiny representation of the owner’s office hanging from the top bar; member’s jewels are similar but without the word “Founder”. Each jewel is made of hallmarked silver and has the Lodge’s own mark “TH” proudly incorporated as the sponsor – thus will those famous initials live on, we hope, forever.
This text was reproduced with the kind permission of WBro DKRhodes PAGDC