The Co-Mason / The Speculative Mason

It bugged me that in my last little researches about Waite, Yarker and Bothwell-Gosse, I ran into references to a magazine edited by Bothwell, but couldn’t find much information about it. Digging a little deeper, resulted in the following.

The archives of the United Grand Lodge of England (1) list “The Co-Mason / International Co-Masonic Order” as published in London from January 1909 to October 1924 in XVI volumes. It also says: “Continued by: The speculative mason.” So The Co-Mason was the first name, The Speculative Mason the second.

There is an odd remark: “Library also holds another journal called “The Co-Mason” by the International Co-Masonic Order, British Federation.” Does that mean that there was an “international co-Masonic order” version and an “International co-Masonic Order, British Federation” version? That sounds pretty much like the same thing. Issued from Paris (the main seat of Le Droit Humain) there was an international magazine, but it was called Bulletin. It seems to me more likely that these two British The Co-Masons are the same.

Checking what other periodicals are in the possession of the Library of Freemasonry there is a note of: “The Co-Mason / International Co-Masonic Order, British Federation” running from 2008 to 2012, which seems to mean that the name was changed back. Also there is: “The Freemason / International Order of Freemasonry for Men and Women, Le Droit Humain, British Federation” which started in 2013. Then finally listed is: “The speculative mason / International Co-Masonic Order” between 1925 and 1955.

Details about the latter: “Vol. XVII, Jan. 1925-Vol. XLV 3rd and 4th issue 1954 and 1955”. So the publishers indeed continued counting after The Co-Mason. The publisher is listed as: “Keighley : Printed by Wadworth & Co., The Rydal Press”. No publisher is listed for The Co-Mason.

I think it is fairly safe to say that in January 1909 The Co-Mason was started. There is no reason to believe that this would not have been by Bothwell-Gosse. The name was changed in 1925 to The Speculative Mason and after Bothwell’s death, the magazine disappeared. Perhaps many years later, the name was used again.

I found something else of interest. The Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain was active in publishing books, translations and magazines. In a little book about women in Freemasonry by the then Grand Master of the Dutch federation Henri van Ginkel in 1911, a list is given about magazines published by Le Droit Humain. The Co-Mason is listed as ‘available publicly’, just at the American Universal Masonry and the Dutch Swastika (of Van Ginkel himself). The French Bulletin is for members only.

It seems that in various federations there was the aim to publish publications which were also available to the general public and that The Co-Mason was one such. That makes it extra strange that information is so hard to find. All Swastikas are available in digital archives, which makes it easier to find information (plus I own them myself). Perhaps The Co-Mason didn’t sell all that well. This was also a problem for Swastika.

Second hand issues can be found sold second hand though and I finally ran into some covers on Ebay. Also The Speculative Mason is available second hand. A warning though, there appears to have been another magazine with the same name that deals with UFOs and the like, so don’t just buy things on title only. Of The Co-Mason I saw bound copies as well. This also happened with Dutch magazines. My Swastikas are also found in a hardcover book. These combined issues were even sold bound when the magazine still existed. As if when there were enough issues, back years were sold combined. As with many things of the time, single volumes are sold for $ 40,- or more, bound copies for way more. Absurd prices for publications that costed $ 1,- at the time.

Last, but not least. America had its Universal Masonry, but there was also an American Co-Mason, just as there is a South African Co-Mason. The American Co-Mason is available as Kessinger reprint, but, obviously, is not the publication that I was after for this little investigation.

(1) See here, accessed 6/7/2023

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