This week’s instalment from Masonic Periodicals Online comes from The Freemason, 5 March, 1881, where we find in Masonic Tidings on page 118 a special correction.

'Bro. Barry Sullivan writes correcting the statement respecting his health.

He says: "I am happy to inform you that I am not, nor have I been dangerously ill, nor have I had to cancel my engagements." '

Good news for Brother Barry and all his friends and family!

It isn't uncommon to see allusions to death in our collections. Symbols of Tempus fugit and Memento mori can be seen on many items from clocks to cups. Not unique to freemasonry, the symbolism teaches about the importance of appreciating the time we have available to us as mortals by acting with charity and being aware of consequences to our actions.

Third degree tracing board, unknown artist, 1810 ©Museum of Freemasonry, London

The Third Degree tracing board is a striking design for teaching freemasons during lodge ceremonies about this relationship between morality and mortality. The central motif is always a coffin, but there are variations from lots of symbols decorating the lid to an open coffin showing a single character.