This May, the Isle of Man Post Office issued a six-stamp set celebrating the tercentenary of English Freemasonry’s first Grand Lodge.
The stamps—created by the London Design Agency and Glazier Design in co-operation with the United Grand Lodge of England—feature mysterious symbols and references. These include a hidden logo only visible under ultraviolet light, GPS references to places important to Freemasonry and a subtle ribbon honouring the 50th year of office of the current Grand Master, the Duke of Kent.
“We are delighted with these superb stamps produced by the Isle of Man Post Office to mark Freemasonry’s momentous 300 year anniversary,” said Keith Dalrymple, Provincial Grand Master for the Isle of Man. “The six vibrant images vividly illustrate symbols and emblems central to us as Freemasons. The designs also incorporate outstanding innovative features including integral UV representations of the United Grand Lodge of England 300 logo with significant GPS coordinates, and are a worthy commemoration of our tercentenary celebrations.”
PAST GRAND MASTERS
Notable previous Grand Masters have included King George VI, who on his accession to the throne—like all his predecessors—resigned all masonic offices. On June 30, 1937, he was invested as a Grand Master of England in celebration of his coronation. Interestingly, his father George V was a prolific stamp collector that inherited the Royal stamp collection from his father and fellow Freemason Edward VII. Edward purchased the collection from his brother, Prince Alfred, who was widely known as the first serious collector in the Royal Family.
The hidden logo used on the stamps is a security ink printed device that depicts the official logo of the UGLE Tercentenary. It was officially approved for use by the Grand Lodge. The logo will also become visible through the postal system as items are scanned as well as under UV light.
“We are pleased to release this innovative and creative set of stamps to mark 300 years of English Freemasonry,” said Isle of Man Stamps and Coins General Manager Maxine Cannon.
“We have worked very closely with the United Grand Lodge of England, in particular Mike Baker Director of Communications, and on the Isle of Man, Keith Dalrymple and Alex Downie, who have provided us with a wealth of material and thank them for their time, knowledge and assistance in making this such an interesting project.”
The collection features architectural elements from the lodges of England and the Isle of Man as inspiration for the background illustrations. The main features however are the badges of office of the senior officers within the lodge. Each stamp features gold foil highlighting the Queen’s head and the words “Isle” and “Man.”
The 20-pence stamp bears the badge, the Jewel, of office of The Steward on a background of geometric patterns. The jewel represents a cornucopia or “Horn of Plenty,” which is a symbol of abundance and plenty. The GPS reference is the Freemasons’ Hall in the Isle of Man.
The first-class stamp depicts The Inner Guard’s jewel, two swords in saltire with a backdrop of Art Deco lines. The GPS reference is that of the Grand Master’s Throne in the main lodge room at Grand Lodge, Queen Street, London.
The 50-pence stamp shows the jewel of the Junior and Senior Deacons, a dove carrying an olive branch, symbolizing a faithful messenger, on a background of stars. The star design is taken directly from the ceiling of the Great Hall at the Grand Lodge. The GPS reference is of the Freemasons’ Hall in Bristol.
The £1.30 stamp bears the jewel of the Junior Warden, a plumb rule, symbolizing moral uprightness and integrity, on an Art Deco pattern. The GPS reference is for the Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The penultimate stamp, £1.74, depicts the jewel of the Senior Warden, a level, which symbolizes equality on a background inspired by the windows of the Freemasons’ Hall in the Isle of Man. The GPS reference is that of the blue plaque marking the site of the Goose and Gridiron Public House in St. Paul’s Churchyard where the first Grand Lodge was formed 300 years ago.
Lastly, the £3.40 stamp bears the jewel of the Worshipful Master, the square, on a background of overlaid right angles. The square represents morality and is the symbol of regulated life and actions. The final GPS references are very significant as they represent the charitable giving of Freemasons and refer to three landing pads of the Air Ambulance service in Caernarfon (Wales), RAF Benson (Thames Valley) and Royal London Hospital (London). The GPS references are accompanied by the Call Signs of the helicopters that have saved so many lives.
|Text||Keith Dalrymple and Alex Downie|
|Research and design||Glazier Design|
|Process||Offset lithography with foil and security ink|
|Paper||110 grams PVA Gummed|
|Perforations||14 perforations every two centimetres|
|Stamp size||40 mm by 40 mm|
|Format||10 stamps a sheet|
PROUD & COLOURFUL HISTORY
In the accompanying text, Provincial Grand Master of the Isle of Man, Keith Dalrymple, provides an insight into Manx Freemasonry which has a similarly proud and colourful history. Originally, lodges met from 1765 under the auspices of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland. Then in 1864, the first Manx lodge, “The Athole Lodge,” was founded under the Grand Lodge of England. Subsequently, Freemasonry flourished and the Isle of Man now has 19 lodges, one of which is named after the world famous TT races.
Available in the collection are:
- Set (Mint and CTO)
- Presentation Pack
- First Day Cover
- Sheet Set
- Sheetlet Set
- Prestige Booklet
- Self Adhesive Pane
For more information about the Freemasonry stamps, visit iompost.com/freemasons.