The Library and Museum of Freemasonry welcomes a pistol for the first time into its collection
The collections in the Library and Museum at 60 Great Queen Street have been accumulated over nearly two hundred years since the 1830s. New items are always being added, including centenary jewels, founders or Past Master’s jewels and newly published books.
Although tens of thousands of objects are already held, just occasionally a new type of object finds its way into the collection. Earlier this summer, the Library and Museum acquired its first masonic gun. Made around 1800, the pocket-sized flintlock pistol with a walnut grip is engraved with masonic symbols including a plumb rule, level, globe, Volume of Sacred Law and a sunburst. It also has two names on it – Sikes and Melford – which may relate to the maker or it could refer to the retailer and a place. Research to confirm these details is continuing.
Flintlock pistols were used as self-defence weapons and as a military arm. Although a pistol may seem at odds with the masonic idea of brotherly love, Freemasons of the time decorated a wide range of personal items including watches and snuff boxes to show pride in their membership. The decorated pistol, now on display in the Library and Museum, is a further example of such customisation.