History of Mark Degree

It must first be explained that "Great" differences are found in this degree within Great Britain.
It is conferred in all three countries. In Ireland it is governed by the Grand Lodge of Ireland but I have no personal knowledge as to how it is operated.

The United Grand lodge of England is responsible for the Three Degrees in Craft Masonry and the Royal Arch Degrees as well.
The Mark however has its own Grand Mark Lodge and its own Grand Master, H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent.
This Grand lodge is also responsible for Royal Ark Mariner Lodges who are associated with Mark Lodges.

In Scotland things are very different. From 1819 the degree was controlled by the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland until 1860 when, by agreement, it was allowed to be worked in the Craft Lodges as well and nowadays is almost always conferred in the craft
as an extension to the Fellowcraft degree.

Strangely enough, the Royal Ark Mariner Degree is still governed by the SGRAC and usually worked with the Degrees of the Captivity or the Red Cross of Babylon in a Lodge and Council.

The first record of the Mark Degree is found in the minutes of the Lodge of Aitchisons Haven and was conferred on the 28th December 1603. This ancient lodge became dormant in 1852.

The ceremony tells the same story in both Scotland and England with a few differences. In the English Ritual the candidate is first made a Mark Man before becoming a Mark Master Mason, whereas in Scotland there is little mention of such an action. In each Constitution the Degree is in two distinct parts and in the latter part the candidate chooses his Mark and receives his Mark Token.

Tokens themselves have had a long and checkered history and were first white metal Shekels. Which can still be obtained from some of the Masonic suppliers. At a later date they were bronze tokens but there is no record of when this change occurred. When these were first adopted they were the same for every Lodge and thus became known as Standard Tokens. Later on these same tokens appeared with the Lodges name and number engraved or stamped on them. In Scotland however they were produced in several variations of design often with Thistles added to the Mallet and Chisel. Over the years many of the Lodges started having their own unique tokens struck with a great variety of designs, Often a Coat of arms or a lodge logo. On the reverse side were depicted the Keystone and the part of the legend of The Parable of the Vineyard from The Book of Mathew in the New Testament. “Every Man Received a Penny” This has often raised eyebrows as it is the only time the New Testament comes into Freemasonry.
But of course the Order was very much a Christian orientated organization .

In England, the standard token simply showed the Chisel and Mallet and on the reverse all round the border was the Serpent eating its own tail Thus representing the never ending story. In England mark Lodges tend to be rather small and it would be rather expensive for them to all produce their own tokens. However a new idea came to being/ Each Provincial Mark Lodge started having its own token struck and all the Lodges under its jurisdiction
could then use this token. The first of these Tokens was struck by the Province of Bedfordshire in 1985 and the idea soon caught on until now that at least 23 English Provinces have their own Mark. The number of Individual lodges having their own mark has also increased and these are now all very collectable.

A club for Token Collectors was formed in 1986 and has a world wide membership who exchange tokens among themselves . The club also operates a Sponsorship Scheme which gives financial assistance to lodges who wish to produce their own Tokens. The mark Token Collectors’ Club has their own Excellent and informative Website at http://www.elcic.com/harmony/index.htm

With the Provincial Token being a success it naturally followed that Scottish Provinces could follow suit and the first of these tokens was produced by Ayrshire, closely followed by Linlithgowshire and next was Stirlingshire.

Lodge Mark tokens over the years:

mark1     mark2    75th
      1930-1980                 1980-Present          75th Anniversary (1994)

                    Provincial Grand Lodge of Linlithgowshire

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