Lodge nr.4, a co-Masonic mystery

Last week I finally got myself a copy of the “Verulam” ritual. I had a copy from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France scanned. To my surprise, the book contains the Ex Libris of Franz Farwerck, the second Grand Master of the Dutch federation of Le Droit Humain.

The (awkward) placement of the Ex Libris suggests that Farwerck wasn’t the first owner. A partial stamp peeks out under his Ex Libris. “-masonry”, “istory”, the words suggest an English origin. This isn’t strange, because the ritual was published in 1922 in Glasgow and was probably in use in England. But, does it say “No4”?

In 1904 the first British lodge was founded, “Human Duty no.6“. What would lodge number 4 have been?

Even though nowadays Le Droit Humain is as keen on lodge numbers as much as many other Grand Lodges, it is hard to find the earliest lodges and their numbers. Very helpful is the book An Outline On The Origins And Development of the Ordrer [sic] of International Co-Freemasonry “Le Droit Humain” with a forward of Marc Grosjean published in 1993.

We know the early history of Le Droit Humain. Some brothers of Les Libres Penseurs working under the Grande Loge Symbolique Ecossaise initiated Marie Deraismes in 1882. Still, she had to found a new order together with Georges Martin in order to be able to really have a mixed gender Masonic organisation.

On 4 April 1893 “La Grande Loge Symbolique Ecossaise Mixte de France “Le Droit Humain”” was founded and started working at the 33, Rue Jacob in Paris. The second chapter of the book lists the first French lodges:

  • Lodge nr.1 in Lyon (1896)
  • Lodge nr.2 in Rouen (1896)
  • Lodge nr.5 in Havre (1902)

The first lodge was actually founded in Blois and was a travelling lodge around the cities where later lodges were founded and dissolved into the new lodges. Later the mother lodge was rekindled and remained numberless.

But more importantly in the list above: where is number 4??

As we saw, the first lodge in the UK was nr.6, so the stamp may have been an American one. Indeed, Le Droit Humain set foot in the USA before it did in the UK. The odd thing is, that this lodge in Charleroi (Pennsylvania) got number 301 when it was finally installed on 25 October 1903.

What about the first foreign lodge, the one in Zürich, Switzerland that was founded as early as 1895? It actually got no.1 as in: “Nr. 1. of foreign lodges”. The lodge had its ups and downs and existed for only 10 years. So still no sign of lodge nr.4…

I did find one lead though. In the same French Bulletin of 1902 that makes report of the foundation of Lodge Human Duty no.6, it says:

So lodges 1 and 4 both met at the 51, rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, 51? If this is an adres in Paris, it is now an escape room in a stately building, but in any case, we’re talking about a French lodge. It would be strange if they’d have an English stamp.

The book mentions that lodge nr. 4 (but also nr. 5) left Le Droit Humain to found the Grande Lodge Mixte de France, so that blue/craft/symbolic lodge nr. 4 was a French lodge that was no longer part of LDH in 1922. We can rule out that the stamp refers to a blue lodge.

I’ve been playing around a bit to see if I can fill some gaps on the partly seal.

The image in the middle may be incorrect, as the lower part that you can see in the image on the left is not obviously the tip of a ribbon, but the center may have looked something like this as we will see.
In any case, “-masonry” is likely something as above. In the inner circle below are the characters “ation” which I expect to be “federation”, but which one is of course the big question. “…history. No4.” Not a lodge number? Should we look at the lodges for ‘high degrees’? But why would a lodge for higher degrees own a craft ritual? The named book mentions that the number of the first American chapter is unknown. The UK had a chapter and an areopagus both numbered 2 in 1932, a year before Farwerck demitted. So even when one of them quickly had two more lodges, they’d have to buy the “Verulam” ritual and sell it to Farwerck within the year. That doesn’t sound very likely. Yet, “consistory” makes a good suggestion and the image of the eagle would also be fitting.

Within the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite there are different types of lodges, grouped by degrees:

Lodge of Perfection: 4º-14º
Council: 15º-16º
Chapter: 17º-18º
Areopagus: 19º-30º
Consistory: 31º-32º
Supreme Council: 33º

It seems illogical that an “areopagus” with number 2 was founded in the UK in 1932. It doesn’t make sense if by that time there was already a “consistory” with number 4. More reasonable would be when “consistory” number 2 was founded shortly after and the numbers 4 followed later. Another English speaking country then in which they were a bit faster with implementing the AASR then. The USA?

Conclusion, for now

If this was indeed the stamp of a lodge for the 31º and 32º degrees of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite the low number makes sense and the eagle would be logical for the center. The most logical place for the lodge that owned the book before Farwerck was America. Now I ‘only’ have to find out when these lodges where founded.

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