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>Costume Studies
>>1888 Masonic Knight Templar
Subject: Masonic Knight Templar
Culture: Anglo-American
Setting: York Rite freemasonry, America 19-20thc















Caveat

* Robinson 1987 p126
"The vibrant Masonic world isn't secret at all.  Masonic history is freely available to all.  Masonic beliefs and principles are never secret and can easily be discovered by anyone interested. Ten-dollar books, sold by television evangelists and purporting to contain dark Masonic secrets, actually reveal nothing that isn't available at no charge whatsoever at any good public library (naturally, they keep that fact a real secret).  When they lie, as they frequently do, that information is, of course, available only in their sensational books."

* Whalen 1987 p96
"Not a shred of evidence supports the claim that the Masonic Knights Templar represents the modern successor to this suppressed medieval order.  A gap of more than five hundred years separates the two orders, but as usual the demands of historical accuracy are not oppressive in Masonic research."


Context (Event Photos, Period Sources)

* Axelrod 1997 p148
"The powerful fascination exercised by the word knight on the founders of secret societies is evident from even a cursory glance at this encyclopedia, or at any other book dealing with secret societies. There are, however, so many 'Knights' connected with the Freemasons that a list is in order.  Anyone seeking to learn where these titles fit into the order of the Craft is referred to any of the standard Masonic encyclopedias.  Many are used in more than one rite ....  Many of these 'Knights' are of French origin."

* Robinson 1993 p17
"The York Rite has a system of advancement that culminates in the York Rite Mason being made a Knight Templar.  There are about two hundred and fifty thousand York Rite Templars in the United States."

* Morgan 2015 p181
"The Commandery of Knights Templar  The third and final body within the York Rite is unusual in Masonic groups in that its membership does require a specific religious belief system. While Freemasonry in general is open to individuals with a belief in a supreme being, the degree of Knights Templar is open only to Master Masons whose religion is Christianity."

* Axelrod 1997 p96-97
"All in all, the influence of Freemasonry in the United States is probably a great deal patchier than it is in Europe.  In some areas -- especially in small towns, where the judge and the sheriff are elected and might well be part of a Masonic clique -- there may well be more abuse of the Mystic Tie than in Europe.  The same might also be true at the highest levels of government, given the number of presidents who have been claimed as Masons.  But by and large, because there is no single, dominant American 'Establishment' in the European sense, the overall impact of the Craft on the body politic is probably a good deal less than on the other side of the Atlantic.  Strong evidence of this is that each American state operates its own Grand Lodge, which it takes to be at least equal in standing with the original Grand Lodge of England."


Costume

* Morris 2013 p271
"During 1870-1920, the heyday of American fraternalism --the 'Golden Age' -- the Knights Templar uniform represented the height of sartorial splendor for fraternal parade drill units.  Their black uniforms were patterned after Civil War uniforms and were copied by other fraternal groups such as the Knights of PythiasKnights of Columbus, Patriarchs Militant, Knights of the Maccabees, and many more.  Embellished with medals, sashes, swords, and gloves, the Templars' uniforms and distinctive plumed bicorn chapeaux attracted members who found parade-ground militarism  romantic."

* Whalen 1987 p98
"Some 250,000 Knights Templar are banded together in three hundred Commanderies in the United States, Alaska, Mexico, the Philippine Islands, and the Canal Zone.  Knights wear a black military uniform with cocked hat and ostrich feathers, silver and gold belts, and swords.  They attend Protestant church services in a body on Ascension Day.  Their marching hymn is 'Onward, Christian Soldiers.'"

* Old Past Master 1890 p60-61
"With regard to the wearing of Grand, or Provincial Grand clothing, much difference of opinion and of practice exists.  Many -- probably the majority of -- brethren have undress aprons and collars, which they always wear at the ordinary meetings of their own Lodge; some even of these wear full dress if visiting a Lodge other than their own, even if it be a regular meeting of the Lodge which they are visiting.  Upon Festivals, or other occasions out of the ordinary way, they would, as a matter of course, wear full-dress clothing, with all proper insignia appertaining thereto, either in their own or in any other Lodge.  Instances are not wanting of brethren considering it to be their duty to wear the full-dress clothing upon every occasion during the year of their tenure of Grand or Provincial Grand Office.  No reason can be urged against their doing so.  There is no hard and fast rule upon the subject.  Customs vary in different districts, and individual taste seems to be the chief guide in this matter.
    ​"At all the regular meetings of Grand Lodge, and of Provincial, and of District Lodges, full dress clothing is invariably worn.  At meetings of Provincial, or of District Lodges, upon special occasions other than the regular meetings, Provincial or District Grand Masters often allow undress clothing to be worn. On all occasions when the full-dress clothing is worn, the traditional white tie and gloves should be worn -- a comparatively recent fashion of wearing black ties for full dress, to the contrary, notwithstanding.  The black tie is not 'in accordance with the ancient usage and established custom of the order' in this respect."


Sword

* Venner 1986 p238
"Aux États-Unis, les sociétés maçonniques qui ont pignon sur rue et défilent en grand arroi à l'occasion des fêtes publiques, portent encore des épées d'un néo-gothisme un peu effervescent, ornées des symboles de leurs obédiences, rose-criox, triangle maçonnique, compas, gland, etc."

* Coe, Connolly, Harding, Harris, Larocca, Richardson, North, Spring, & Wilkinson 1993 p118  (Frederick Wilkinson, "American swords and knives" p104-121)
"[A] purely decorative sword popular in the nineteenth century was the society sword.  This usually had a cruciform hilt, recalling the hilts of ceremonial swords since the Middle Ages, and a grip embellished by a cross or similar emblem.  The blade was usually etched with sundry Classical themes, and frequently with the owner's name, and the scabbard was similarly embellished.  Members of the Masonic Order and various other American societies affected such swords." 


Medals

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