Lewis Jewel Archaeology

The Lewis Jewel

Lewis Jewel Version B

20 microns 18K Gold-plated.

Nickel-plated for the Grand Lodge of Vermont.

$49.00 postage within Canada included.

What is a Lewis?

What is a Lewis? Figuratively speaking, a Lewis is a son whose father is or was a Freemason in good standing at the time of the son’s initiation. The word denotes “strength”.

Historically, it was an extremely strong engineering device dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks. When wedged into a groove on the top of a block of stone, builders could lift large ashlars directly in place without cumbersome ropes underneath. According to John Landels Engineering in the ancient world, U. California P (2000), the Grecian « Hero » demonstrated in Mechanica that a 4-5° “Lewis Bolt” widened sufficiently to withstand great forces once the centre wedge was hammered in place. It’s only disavantage, Landels wrote was that cutting a groove and removing the Lewis were time-consuming. Moreover, if the temper of the iron used was too hard or soft, the Lewis itself would fail. Nonetheless, the Lewis was device of choice by the Ancient Greeks for whose archeological evidence still exists today.

What is a Lewis Jewel?

The Lewis Jewel is a pendant jewel commemorative of the strength of the Masonic bond between a father and son. On the top-bar are engraved Mason Father’s name and date of initiation and the son’s on the bottom. Very much an emotional ceremony, the father must be in good standing when the son is initiated.

Wearing the jewel originates in the Canadian province of Quebec. It was first enshrined in 1948. C.f. Quebec requires the Father to be a Mason before the son is born. Other jurisdictions have not followed suit. Under the Grand Constitution of the Grand Lodge of Quebec, no person can be made a Freemason before 21 years old. The exception is the 18 year-old son of a Mason. Only a father can sponsor and vouch for his son’s “mature age”.

As early as 1801, the Lewis device was depicted and explained on an English Constitution, Junior Warden’s tracing board lecture.

A LEWIS is a simple but ingenious device employed by operative Masons to raise heavy blocks of dressed stone into place. It consists of three metal parts: two wedge-shaped side pieces, and a straight centre piece, that fit together (tenon). A dovetailed recess is cut into the top of the stone block (mortise). The two outer pieces are inserted first and then spread by the insertion of the centrepiece. The three parts are then bolted together, a metal ring or shackle is attached and the block is hoisted by hook, rope and pulley. By this means, the block is gripped securely.

Only recently has wearing the Lewis Jewel become popular in other North American Jurisdictions. It first became enshrined in Quebec’s southern voisin, Vermont in 2005. Alberta and Ontario followed suit in 2006, followed by Connecticut and Massachusetts in 2007. The same year, it gained regulation by Grand Master’s decree in the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon. In at least Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland the Lewis Jewel is worn as an honorary jewel.

The “Lewis” is a thus well-known term in the United Kingdom whence Masonic ritual originates.

Whence came the design?

My design represents a real Lewis that I first saw in a museum. When I asked my autocad person to draw it, I used these combined available drawings to portray it:

http://grandlodge.on.ca/Communications/lewis.htm http://grandlodge.on.ca/Communications/LewisExample_200.gif
and from Engineering in the Ancient World, By John Gray Landels. 2000. University of California Press:


Since the 1940s, the design has taken many forms, variations of a same theme. To come is photo documentation of a collection from St. John’s Lodge in Quebec City.