Masonic dating

With the advent of boards designed by Josiah Bowring, a portrait painter, we see an attempt to produce aesthetically pleasing boards, employing perspective, and to include more detail than his predecessors.

Bowrings boards certainly raised the standard of those who came after him.

We see boards designed by the Hungarian artist Ferec Sebk in which a form of Art Deco becomes transmuted in an almost surreal manner.

In the United States tracing boards are no longer used except in those lodges working English rituals, but there are some splendid examples of very elaborate and intricate painted boards and cloths which are now mostly the property of museums.

A later exposure showing a French lodge at work was reproduced in an engraving, showing the Brethren ranged on either side of a floor cloth with symbols depicted on it.

Later still, the cloths were supported on a board or on trestles and from this followed the practice of executing the design on a rigid, framed board.

Yet if we examine, for instance, some of the American tracing boards of the eighteenth century we find intricate drawings of the orders of architecture, which make it clear that the Master, or another mason charged with instructing younger Brethren, must have gone to great lengths to delve into the intricate differences and significations of the five orders.

In the United States the term trestle board is still used for this object.

Very few boards dating from before 1800 have survived, but after that year the names of certain English designers come to the fore, including John Cole, whose engravings appeared in 1801, and John Browne, the author of the famous Master Key (1798), who designed a set of boards in full colour in about 1800.

From the middle of the eighteenth century in England the designs were being reproduced on floor-cloths, as it was becoming too laborious to wash away the design every time the lodge was closed.

These practices were being copied on the continent, in France, Germany and Austria in the form of lodge cloths or carpets.

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