GIV-30 Crossed Keys Masonic Flask

Provenance: Sandor P. Fuss Collection

In the 1941 charts in American Glass, two extremely rare Masonic half-pint flasks were attributed to Coventry Glass Works by George S. McKearin in consultation with other students, researchers, and collectors. One was the GIV-29 Hourglass Masonic flask and the other was the GIV-30 Crossed Keys and Star – Masonic Emblems flask. Prior to this time, the subject flask was “thought” by Stephen Van Rensselaer to also be of Coventry, Connecticut descent. The flask would have been produced from 1815 to 1830.

Only four flasks in Group IV have Masonic emblems on both sides, GIV-28, GIV-28a, GV-29, and our GIV-30 Crossed Keys and Star – Masonic Emblem flask. All are half-pint pocket flasks. What makes the GIV-29 Hourglass and GIV-30 Crossed Keys so special is the prominent but limited amount of Freemason emblems used on both sides. When viewed, these emblems are bold and command attention juxtaposed with the corrugated flask edges and glass colors typical of Coventry.

Our museum example of a half-pint, olive glass GIV-30 Crossed Keys and Star – Masonic Emblen flask is a significant piece that commands attention due to its rarity, symbology, and beauty. The flask is listed in American Bottles & Flasks and Their Ancestry as the #8 most desirable flask on page 502. The known examples in collections have great provenance with names like Edmund and Jayne Blaske, Sandor P. Fuss, Charles Gardner, Dr. Gary and Arlette Johnson, Sam Laidacker, Warren “Bud” Lane, Paul Richards, and Charles & Mark Vuono.

When viewed, one side, considered the obverse side, has a prominent embossed prismatic five-pointed star with a convex center positioned over crossed keys. The Order of the Eastern Star (or O.E.S.) is an appendant body within Freemasonry. Freemasons are the largest organization in the world to which both men and women may belong who practice a social order comprised of persons with spiritual values. It strives to take good people and through uplifting and elevating associations of love and service, and through precept and example, build an order which is truly dedicated to charity, truth, and loving-kindness. The five points of the star represent five strong women in history, four of whom are in the Holy Scriptures. The emblem of the crossed keys represents the “Keys of Heaven” used in ecclesiastical heraldry, to represent the metaphorical keys of the office of Saint Peter, the keys of heaven, or the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.

The reverse of the flask has an embossed compass and a square enclosing a backward error “G.” The square has lines to indicate the inch and half inch measurements. The overlapping square and compass is the single most identifiable symbol of Freemasonry. Both the square and compasses are architect’s tools and are used in Masonic ritual as emblems to teach symbolic lessons. The letter “G” in the center has multiple meanings, representing different words depending on the context in which it is discussed. The most common is that the “G” stands for God or Great Architect of the Universe – a non-denominational reference to God. Another is that it stands for geometry, and is to remind Masons that geometry and Freemasonry are synonymous terms described as being the “noblest of sciences”, and “the basis upon which the superstructure of Freemasonry and everything in existence in the entire universe is erected.” Three horizontal ribs surround the bottom of the flask and four horizontal ribs surround the flask below the neck.

The half-pint flask has a plain lip and pontil mark. The flask edges are corrugated horizontally with the corrugations extending around the flask at the base and at the juncture of the body.

Known colors are light amber, clear amber, golden amber, olive amber, and clear light olive-green. All are considered extremely rare. Our olive green museum example is exceptional in its glass color.

Primary Image: The GIV-30 Crossed Keys and Star – Masonic Emblems flask imaged on location by the FOHBC Virtual Museum midwest studio led 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 Image: Auction Lot 41: Crossed Keys Masonic Historical Flask, probably Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Connecticut, 1815-1830. Olive yellow, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (¾ inch horizontal manufacturer’s hairline fissure between the two uppermost star points). GIV-30. One of the great Coventry bottles. Extremely rare, beautiful color, strong embossing. Ex Sam Laidacker, ex Edmund and Jayne Blaske collection #574, Warren “Bud” Lane collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #100.

Support Image: Auction Lot 64: Crossed Keys And Star – Masonic Emblem Historical Flask, probably Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Connecticut, 1820-1830. Light to medium olive-yellow, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (some light exterior wear on the compass and square). GIV-30 Extremely rare. Fine condition. Ex Paul Richards collection #173, Dr. Gary and Arlette Johnson collection. – Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #133. Pictured above in window.

Support Image: Auction Lot 1: Crossed Keys And Star – Masonic Emblem Historical Flask, probably Coventry Glass Works, Coventry, Connecticut, 1815-1830. Medium yellow olive, sheared mouth – pontil scar, half pint; (just a hint of exterior high point wear). GIV-30, H #2865 and H color plate VII This iconic flask is extremely rare with five or six examples known. Fine condition. Ex Charles B. Gardner collection. A post-auction addendum published following the Charles B. Gardner auction notes a minor flaw in this flask. Updated condition report: Fine condition with an internal iridescent manufacturing blemish 1/32 x 3/32” on upper neck under the mouth. The blemish can be viewed, in the photograph, directly above Charles Gardner’s neck label “160”. – Norman C. Heckler & Company, Auction #187.

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