Scottish masonic furniture
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This thesis will identify and describe a distinct furniture sub-group previously largely unknown. Chests, chairs, pedestals and other items from all over Scotland, surveyed by the author, will be related to the aims, purposes and social character of Scottish freemasonry. The focus will be on the period 1730-1840 although developments since 1840 will also be discussed. The individual circumstances surrounding production together with the relationship between producers and consumers of this furniture will be investigated, documentary evidence being utilised where possible. The emblematic content of the furniture will be analysed with reference to the mythology and iconography of freemasonry. Comparisons will be made with two groups of related material; English masonic furniture and the Scottish trade incorporation Deacon's chair. It will be argued that the contrasts between Scottish and English masonic furniture embody distinctions between English and Scottish freemasonry as much as distinctions between two nations. Freemasonry was in part a product of the culture of the trade incorporation yet comparisons of Master's chairs with Deacon's chairs will demonstrate the divergence that took place between the two institutions during the eighteenth century. The majority of the items surveyed are chairs and consequently the masonic Master's chair will be considered as a ceremonial, and on occasion, commemorative chair. In conclusion, this thesis will contend that, while masonic furniture in Scotland, and by extension throughout the United Kingdom, forms a coherent furniture sub-group, the form and style of such furniture varied greatly and that at no time did there exist an independent masonic style.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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