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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Silver Templar Trophies On The Auction Block

What happens when we lose the priceless items of our heritage? Someone else puts a price on them. Spotted on a listing of a Sotheby's auction in New York.

Additional highlights of the silver on offer include five trophy pieces from the St. Bernard Commandery No. 35, Knights Templar, Chicago. By World War I, an estimated one in every eight adult men and women in the United States belonging to some kind of fraternal order, and marching competitions at the state and national levels drew audiences in the tens of thousands and produced intense rivalries. In a half-century of competition, St. Bernard Commandery from Chicago claimed more prizes that almost any other commandery, including the trophies offered this January. Among other treasures, the group features the 29th Triennial Conclave at San Francisco, CA, 1904: An American Silver and Copper “Indian” Punch Bowl, Stand and Ladle Attributed to Joseph Heinrich, New York, Retailed by Hammersmith & Field, San Francisco dated 1904 (est. $150/250,000), and the 22nd Triennial Conclave at San Francisco, CA, 1883: An American Silver, Bronze, and California Gold Quartz “Knights Templar” Trophy, George C. Shreve & Co., San Francisco, with figures attributed to F. Marion Wells in 1883 (est. $150/250,000).

The full catalog can be seen here with photos.


  1. Brother Eric Diamond posted the following on Facebook:

    Let me help put some of this in perspective for you guys. While I am not a member of St. Bernard No. 35, I am very close with those guys and am a past presiding of the other Old Chicago York Rite bodies. (I am a Member of the Tribe, so no Commandery for me).

    We have an active and vibrant York Rite, but we are extremely cash poor. We have no building of our own, and since we share space in an extremely crowded Masonic Temple (one of only two left within the city limits), there is no place even to display these treasures. Instead, we kept them in a storage space and had to incur not only the expose of storing them, but insuring them. It is a continuing drain on our meager resources with no real benefit. It is unlikely that we will have a building any time soon, to bring these treasures out and enjoy them. Now that silver is at a record high, it is now time to sell.

    The decision to do this is not made lightly. It is not simply a throwing away of our heritage. We are proud of our history. We see this as a way to invest in our future. The money we hope to realize will help stabilize our York Rite and allow us the space to make improvements that will strengthen our organization and help it to continue long into the future.

    We've realized that the glory of our heritage, the real treasure is what our York Rite has to offer. It is in its future, not in some dusty silver cups. They are nice, and we are sorry to see them go, but we never were able to enjoy them anyway. We have in the past repurchased many treasures from Ebay to help restore our heritage. But this is one case where it is time to let the material world go.

    I applaud the courage and the Chivalry that the men of St. Bernard are displaying. They are letting their material wealth go in service of the mission. And speaking as an admiring outsider, it seems to me that that is exactly what a Templar is called upon to do.

    Oh, and one other thing: St. Bernard chose Sotheby's precisely because they knew that the objects would be preserved. If they were to be scrapped it would have been much easier to simply scrap them.

  2. Good Morning Brother Chris:

    Just a note to let you know how the Sotheby's auction ended on the Chicago KT trophies that were up for sale:

    Auction 55 - Copper Indian Punch bowl sold for $314,500.00

    Auction 56 - KT Silver Ingot sold for $40,625.00

    Auction 57 - 1922 New Orleans Trophy - Did not sell for some reason!

    Auction 58 - 30th Triennial Silver Punch Bowl and Ladle sold for $20,000.00

    Auction 59 - 1883 San Francisco Gold QuartzTrophy - Didn't sell for some reason!

    Not a bad day at all... a total of $375,125.00

    Hopefully that will bring the Commandery enough money for a while so it can keep some of its other unsold treasures! If the Commandery can't afford to store these historical pieces then they need look into loaning them to a museum like the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, MA to display and care for them!

    Official sales results can be found at this link: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/results.sale.pdf/2012/americana-n08823.pdf

    Respectfully Submitted,

    Dave Lettelier, PM, Curator
    Phoenixmasonry Masonic Museum and Library


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