Together we make a profound difference

Elevating the material culture of the lodge

Items to invest in

Your July checklist

For your Trestleboard

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Question of the month


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Elevating the material culture of the lodge

Prometheus Lodge No. 851 in San Francisco is a young lodge, just closing in on its 10-year anniversary. Yet it’s already built up a meaningful material culture. How? The lodge invests in premium pieces, and ties member experiences to singular, thoughtful gifts.

Master David Giannini explains.

Gifts for candidates

  • To Entered Apprentices, we present a rough and perfect ashlar made of native California rock, which they can keep on a desk or bookshelf to remember where they’ve come from and what they’re trying to achieve.
  • To Fellow Crafts, we present a copy of George Washington’s rules for civility. An inscribed cover includes an inspirational message from the lodge.
  • To Master Masons, we present a custom, high quality copy of the Holy Writing the candidate takes his obligation on. We emboss the candidate’s name on it, and include the lodge history, officers, and the names of those who attended the degree.
  • We also present new Master Masons with a traveling patent, which he uses in conjunction with his dues card. Each hand-drawn certificate is stamped with the lodge seal and protected by an embossed cover.
  • One of our brothers is a talented artist who owns a printing press. He designed beautiful, postcard-sized tracing boards for each degree, which he prints and presents to the candidates as they advance.
  • We also give new Master Masons a lodge tie and rosette. The tie’s color scheme symbolizes the Promethean legend and our core lodge values. There is nothing explicitly Masonic in the design, so you have to be a lodge member to know what it represents.

Masonic objects

  • Our officer aprons were custom designed by one of our lodge brothers. They were handmade, embroidered, and painted by his team of artisans. They’re one of the first things that visiting Masons comment on. The year that we commissioned them, each officer purchased the apron for his chair as a gift to the lodge.
  • Our Entered Apprentice aprons, made with real lambskin and cut with a rounded shape for a traditional look, are from The California Collection.
  • Festive board meals are an important piece of our lodge culture. To honor this, we engraved our firing cannons (shot glasses designed for Masonic toasts) with the lodge coat of arms and Masonic symbols. A group of brothers also donated an antique tig, a three-handled drinking cup.
  • Over the years, brothers have made or commissioned numerous other items as gifts to the lodge.

Anniversary items

  • On the lodge’s five-year anniversary, we had tumbler glasses engraved with our lodge coat of arms.
  • We also compiled all the Masonic essays that our members had written thus far, and published volume one of an anthology we’re calling The Promethean. We give a copy to visiting brothers and new Master Masons. We’re currently collecting essays for volume two.

We give our members autonomy to suggest and create new additions to our material culture. The objects that they’ve contributed over the years play an important role in our shared experiences, binding us closer to the lodge, the craft, and each other.

Contact: David Giannini

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Items to invest in

Material objects play a central role in a lodge’s most powerful moments, becoming a tangible link to brothers’ memories and degree lessons. Take time to examine your lodge’s collection and replace or restore items that are lagging in quality.

Here are pieces that deserve special attention:

  • Aprons: For handcrafted lambskin aprons, and hand-embroidered and painted past master’s aprons, shop the California Collection.
  • Holy Bible and Holy Writings: Invest in high quality volumes that reflect the solemnity of the Masonic experience. For the Master Mason degree, consider ordering a custom volume embossed with the candidate’s name.
  • Cable tow, hoodwink, and preparation garments: As items begin to show wear and tear, plan to replace them with nicer pieces.
  • Officer regalia: Like Prometheus Lodge, consider a custom design for officer aprons from the California Collection. Review the rest of your regalia and replace items that show wear and tear.
  • Columns: Ask a brother with woodworking skills to create or restore a quality set.
  • Tracing boards or slides: Invite a brother with artistic talent to create custom designs, or look into acquiring an antique set.

As you review the above items, ask:

  • What is the current state of this item in our lodge? Does it show wear and tear? Does its overall quality reflect our commitment to Masonry?
  • Is this an antique that could be restored? Will this require professional services, or does a member have the necessary skills?
  • If we must retire this item, where can we find a high quality replacement that can become a part of the lodge’s history and legacy? Do we have the budget for a custom piece? Would a brother like to donate this piece, or create it himself?

Share your progress as you continue to assess and improve your lodge’s material possessions. More and more, you may find that brothers wish to purchase or commission special items as a gift – a meaningful way to demonstrate their love for the lodge.

Read this month’s Best Practice to get ideas for candidate gifts and unique objects to build lodge pride.

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Your July checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your July checklist.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Identify and approach members for 2019 open elected and appointed officer positions.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2019 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set calendar for 2019 and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing 2019 budget.
  • Set installation date and approach installing officer, master of ceremonies, and chaplain.
  • Review all candidates’ progress towards advancement.

Junior Warden

  • Continue tracking 100 percent officer giving to the California Masonic Foundation, with officers setting an example through gifts that represent their capability as well as their commitment to our charitable programs.



  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly federal payroll tax form 941 (unless IRS has approved an annual filing of form 944, due in February).
  • If your lodge has employees, file quarterly state payroll tax form DE9/DE9C and deposit form DE88. (Using the Grand Lodge Intacct Payroll system? Financial Services will complete the above quarterly payroll tax returns for you.)
  • Begin preparing semi-annual financial report, due in August. (Using Intacct? The report is available and auto-generated from the Intacct system.)

Hall Association

  • Begin preparing semi-annual report, due in August.

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

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For your Trestleboard

When fraternal family needs help, the Masonic Homes of California is just a phone call away. Use this ad to inform your lodge, plus an additional reminder.

This month:
Masonic Assistance: Here to Help
Age Successfully at Acacia Creek

Share in your Trestleboard.

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Find it on

Show your commitment to Freemasonry with handcrafted, exceptional items from the California Collection. All products are 100 percent handmade by artisans at the Craftsman’s Apron, North America’s foremost purveyor of quality Masonic regalia.

The California Collection includes

  • Past master’s apron in several styles, hand-embroidered and painted
  • Real lambskin members’ aprons, custom-made for each brother
  • Traveling Master Mason patent, hand-drawn on linen paper and protected by an embossed cover

Whether for a special gift or to elevate the material culture of the entire lodge, shop the collection at

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Question of the month

Last month we asked what types of items your lodge has invested in in recent years. Of those who responded:

  • 67% - Preserving the lodge hall
  • 50% - Gifts for candidates as they advance through degrees
  • 44% - Gifts for honored guests
  • 44% - Restoring antique items special to the lodge history
  • 33% - High quality aprons
  • 33% - Updated signage for the building
  • 22% - High quality pieces for the lodge room, i.e. gavel
  • 17% - High quality pieces for fellowship or other traditions, i.e. punch bowl for festive board

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Grand Lodge of California
1111 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

p: (415) 776-7000