TheNorthernLight

/August2008

9

Thechairwasmadein1870byJohnLuker(b.

1838).Themaker’snameispaintedonthechair
alongwithanotherinscriptionreading,“JHMHous-
ton’s.”HistoricalrecordstellusthatHoustonwas
MasterofSwanLodgeNo.358inNewMount
Pleasant,VintonCounty,OH,from1867-73.

Thelodgewasnew,havingbeencharteredin

1866.In1871,anewlodgebuildingwasdedicated,so
thechairmayhavebeenmadeforthenewspace.The
chairisaccompaniedbyapairofmatchingcolumns
andtwocandlestands(presumablyathirdcompleted
thesetoriginallybutisnowlost).

RecordsaboutmakerJohnLuker’slifearesparse.

HisMasonicmembershipisunclear,althougha
JosephLukerwasinitiatedintoSwanLodgein1870.

Thatsameyear,JohnLukerislistedontheU.S.

CensusaslivinginWashingtonTownship,partof
Ohio’sHockingCounty,theneighboringcountyto
thenorthofVintonCountywherethechairwas
used.

Atthetime,JosephLuker,21yearsoldandpre-

sumablyJohn’syoungerbrother,waslivinginthe
samehouse.Joseph’sjobislistedas“metallicroofing
business,”perhapssuggestingasupplierforthe
metallicpowdersthatJohnusedwhenpaintingthe
chair.

Thechair,columnsandcandlestandswerefound

inaruinedMasonichallinVintonCountyin1966.
Threeyearslater,themanwhofoundtheitemssold
themtoCatherineHagler,anieceofHenryFord,
whogavethesettoherhusband,CharlesV.Hagler,
asaChristmasgift.

WhenCharlesHagler,aScottishRiteMasonin

Michigan’sValleyofDetroit,diedin1985,thechair,
columnsandcandlesticks,whichhadbeenonloanto
theNationalHeritageMuseum,werebequeathedto
themuseum’spermanentcollection.

ThechairisdecoratedwithMasonicsymbolsand

alsomixeselementsofseveralfurniturestyles.The
mostprominentsymbolappearsattopcenter—a
squareandcompasseswith“G”inthecenter.

Whenthechairwasoriginallypainted,the“G”

musthavestoodout—itwaspaintedbrightblueand
hasblueglassmixedin,givingitatexturedlookthat
mayhaveglintedinthelight.Thesidesofthechair’s
backformcolumnswithglobesontop.Additional
symbolsarepaintedontheback,thearmsandthe
frontoftheseat.

Theseincludefive-pointstars,candelabra,sabers,

anapronwithanall-seeingeyeontheflap,andaca-
bletow.

Inaddition,therearesymbolsforofficers—a

square,levelandplumb;aslipperrepresentingthe

EnteredAp-
prenticedegree;
andsymbolsfor
theRoyalArch
MarkMaster
—chisels,
crossedmallets
andanarchway
withakeystone.

Thesymbols

arepaintedonto
thechair,but
giveanappear-
ancethatcould
becomparedto
popularinlay
motifsonhigh-
stylefurniture
fromthemid-
andlate-1800s.
Inlaywasoften
madeofma-
hoganyorivory
—materials
thatwereex-
pensiveand
hardtofind,so
smallareaswere
allthatcouldbe
filledwiththem.

Theinlayisusuallydarkerorlighterthanthebase

woodtosetofftheseelementsandmotifs.Inthecase
ofthepaintedmotifsonthischair,manyofthemare
lighterthanthedarkerbluepaint.ThelegsareX-
shapedsupportsknownas“Grecian”or“curule”bases.

Initiallymadepopularinthe1810sand1820sby

high-stylecraftsmensuchasDuncanPhyfe(1795-
1856),thiselementenjoyedaresurgenceaspartof
theRenaissanceRevivaltakingplaceinthe1860sand
1870swhenthischairwasmade.

The“curule”stylewasoriginallytakenfroma

Romanmagistrate’sfoldingchair.Thecarvedpaw-
shapedfeetseemtobeinspiredbytheelegantball
andclawfeetthatweresocommononChippendale-
stylefurniturefromthe1760s.

Bycombiningthesefeatures,thechairisunder-

stoodtodayasanexampleoffolkartandruralstyle.

InadditiontofurnitureusedinMasoniclodges,

Ohioansmadeandusedfurnituredecoratedwith
Masonicsymbolsintheirhomes.

Aneleganttallcaseclock,madebetween1816-25,

wasprobablyaprizedshowpieceinaBuckeyeState
Mason’shome.

TallCaseClockby

LumanWatson,

Cincinnati,OH,1816-25.

Photo:JohnM.Miller