GIV-29 Hourglass Masonic Flask

Prevenance: Anonymous

Our museum example of a GIV-29 Hourglass Masonic half-pint pocket flask is charted with the GIV Masonic flasks as both sides are the same and pictures prominently embossed emblems of Freemasonry such as twin pillars, the crescent moon surrounded by seven stars, a five-pointed star, and an hourglass. These emblems are significantly less in number than the complex molds of the “heavy Masonics,” GIV-1 through GIV-15 listings. Many of these examples you can see in the Historical Flask Gallery.

In 1717, the first Grand Lodge, an association of lodges, was founded in England, and Freemasonry was soon disseminated throughout the British Empire. The first American Mason lodge was established in Philadelphia in 1730, and future revolutionary leader Benjamin Franklin was a founding member. George Washington joined Freemasonry in the Lodge at Fredericksburg, Virginia when he was 20 years old. He received the first degree of Entered Apprentice on November 4, 1752. 

Most Masonic flasks were manufactured between the years 1810 and 1830 in the United States during the period American Freemasonry, which was considered both a fraternal and patriotic organization, was at its zenith. During this period, it was not unusual for Masonic lodges to meet in local taverns or in rooms rented for the occasion. Following the meeting, the brethren would customarily assemble for a “festive board” or collation, at which toasts were offered and libations consumed. As likely as not, Masonic flasks came into use at this time and some of these examples could have been on tables, full of spirits to stimulate dialog, conversation, and comradery.

Freemason Emblems

Of all the emblems of Freemasonry the most mysterious, the most distinctive, and in one case the most important, are those heavenly bodies portrayed on the pavements and on the tracing boards of the First Degree. This includes the Blazing Star, the Sun, the Moon, and the cluster of Seven Stars. In the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars provide all the light of the universe, and as emblems they typify the light diffused in Freemasonry, which may be defined as that special instruction which is the essential purpose of the Institution.

Whether in art or architecture, twin pillars are archetypal symbols representing an important gateway or passage toward the unknown. In Freemasonry, the pillars Boaz and Jachin represent one of the brotherhood’s most recognizable symbols and most times are prominently featured in Masonic art, documents, buildings, and American historical flasks.

The embossed hourglass is an emblem of Freemasonry with several different meanings with the Masonic Fraternity. With Freemasons, the two biggest representations are time and death. The first actual sand hourglass is believed to have been invented and used sometime around 150 B.C. and did not begin to be used in iconography, until sometime in the 4th century A.D.

The hourglass representing time can have many meanings in itself. One is that we are all moving forward in time, unable to move the sand back up the glass. No matter our station or position that we may hold in life, no matter how many riches we may acquire the sand continues to move from the top of the glass to the bottom. In this matter, we are all equal, or on the level with each other.

Another allusion that the hourglass has is death. Sometimes the hourglass is represented with a scythe further enforcing the concept of death. The scythe has a long tradition, particularly in Europe and the Americas of representing the Grim Reaper or the Angel of Death. It also is associated with the mythical figure of Father Time. In this allusion, death the great leveler is referenced.

Time can also reference the belief in the eternity of the soul. That time passes for us all and that death comes for us all is true. It is through the belief that leading a good, honest and true life that we will be able to one day turn the hourglass on it’s side, stopping the flow of time as our good works here on Earth are recognized.

In Freemasonry, the 5-pointed star represents light and the five points of fellowship such as the foot reflecting service and meeting needs, the knee reflecting prayer, the heart reflecting trust, the hand reflecting character support, and the ear with whisper reflecting wise counsel.

The GIV-29 Flask

This extremely rare flask was probably made at the Coventry Glass Works in Coventry, Connecticut from 1815 to 1830. When looking at the GIV-29 Masonic Emblems flask, you see a large 5-point star prominently placed in the center of the flask between two columns. Above the star is a crescent moon circled by seven equally spaced 5-pointed stars. The moon clearly has a face. Below the star is an hourglass. The reverse is the same as the obverse. The half-pint flask has a plain lip and a pontil mark. The flask sides are finely corrugated horizontally. All known colors are clear light amber, gold amber, light olive-yellow, olive amber, olive green, and dark olive green are extremely rare.

Primary Image: GIV-29 Hourglass Masonic Flask imaged by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio by Alan DeMaison.

Support: Reference to American Bottles and Flasks and Their Ancestry by Helen McKearin and Kenneth M. Wilson, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1978.

Support: Reference to Price Guide to all Flasks by Mike Roberts 1981

Support: Reference to The Celestial Emblems of Freemasonry by V. W. Bro. W. H. V. Taine, February 24, 1955. Published in Selected Papers, Vol. 2, United Masters Lodge, No. 167, N.Z.

Support Images: Auction Lot 2: Hourglass Masonic Historical Flask, probably Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Connecticut, 1815-1830. Brilliant yellowish-green, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (light exterior high point wear). GIV-29. Wonderful glass clarity and light color. Fine condition. Extremely rare mold. Extremely rare color. Dr. Gary and Arlette Johnson collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #100.

Support Images: Auction Lot 43: Hourglass Masonic Flask, probably Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Connecticut, 1815-1830. Yellow olive, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (some minor exterior high point wear, crudely tooled mouth). GIV-29 Fine condition, early rare flask. Warren “Bud” Lane collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #100.

Support Images: Auction Lot 89: Hourglass Masonic Historical Flask, probably Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Connecticut, 1815-1830. Bright yellow-olive, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (light exterior high point wear). GIV-29, H #1481 and H color plate VI. An extremely rare flask in a beautiful, light color. Fine condition. Ex Charles B. Gardner collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #187.

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