Masonic Lewis Jewel with Two Engravable Bars; Gold Plating; Safe Pin Fastner on reverse of the top bar; Gift Boxed
A LEWIS is a simple, but ingenious device employed by operative Masons to raise heavy blocks of stone into place. It consists of three metal parts: two wedge-shaped sidepieces, and a straight centerpiece, that fit together (tenon).
A dovetailed recess is cut into the top of the stone block (mortise). The two outer pieces are inserted first and then spread by the insertion of the centerpiece. The three parts are then bolted together, a metal ring or shackle is attached and the block is hoisted by hook, rope and pulley. By this means, the block is gripped securely. Once set in its place in the structure, the lewis is removed leaving the upper surface smooth with no clamp or chains on the outside to interfere with the laying of the next course of stones.
Our ancient operative brethren used this tool as early as the Roman era. Stones with the mortised cavity for the insertion of a lewis have been found in England in Hadrian’s Wall built c. 121-127 CE. Archaeologists have found further evidence of its use by the Saxons in England in buildings constructed in the 7th century. The origin of the term ‘lewis’ for this device is uncertain. Some authorities trace its etymology to the French levis from lever – to lift, hoist, raise; and louve – a sling, grip or claw for lifting stones.
Masonic historians conclude that the term came into use in the 18th century. The Lecture in the Second Degree published by William Preston in the 1780s contains a lengthy discourse on the Lewis.
Honour thy father…
In the days of operative Masonry, it was a great source of pride when a son followed in his father’s footsteps and was Entered as an Apprentice, his name ‘entered’ on the roll, and thereby admitted to the lodge. To study his father’s skills and learn to use his father’s tools were manifest expressions of the greatest honour and esteem a son could pay. It was common to carry on the tradition through several generations in the same family.
It is a heart-warming day when a young man first shows interest in Freemasonry and asks his father how he might become a Mason, and it is a proud day when that son, in the fullness of time, is admitted a member of his father’s lodge by Initiation.