So What's The Deal With The Lapel Pins?

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
Todd E. Creason, 33°
My friend William J. Hussey told me a story last October about a friend of his that wore so many Masonic pins on his jacket you couldn't even see his lapels--he even wore them across the back of his collar.  One day, he was walking by the pool at his hotel on his way to a meeting, slipped, and fell in.  Fortunately, he was able to slip out of his jacket before the weight of the lapel pins took him down to a watery grave.  But the jacket was so heavy, they couldn't retrieve it from the bottom of the pool.  They finally got it up, but only after they brought in the big crane from the scrap yard--the one with the giant magnet they used to lift old cars into the crusher.  Now Bill Hussey might be the Grand High Priest of the Illinois Royal Arch, but I've known him for a long time.  Let's just say I have good reason to question one or two points in his version of the story.  I've never met his friend, but according to Bill Hussey, he's easy to pick out of a crowd--he's the guy with all the rusty pins on his lapels.  Like I said--not sure about this story at all.

But one thing is true--Masons love lapel pins more than any other group in existence today (the American Legion running a close second).  Grand Masters make them up and hand them out to commemorate their term.  Lodges make them up to celebrate special events and anniversaries.  There are appendant body pins.  There are officer pins.  There are Past Master pins.  There are pins given as service awards.  There are pins only given out to Masons that have achieved a certain honor.  There are anniversary pins that celebrate the number of years a man has been a Mason--when I was Master of my Lodge I awarded one of those to a 70-year Master Mason!  There are lady pins for our wives.  There are pins you receive when you give blood at a Masonic Blood Drive.  There are pins we give to Masonic widows.  There are pins worn by Master Masons that served in the military.  Often the most unique and beautiful pins are ones commissioned and sold to raise money for a specific causes like the Shriners Hospitals or the Scottish Rite Learning Centers.  One of my personal favorites is my Midnight Freemasons pin.  Brother Robert Johnson had lapel pins made for the original contributors of this blog.  Pins come in all sizes, shapes, colors, designs, and metals.  Some are very expensive because they are made from gold, silver or platinum, but the vast majority of pins aren't worth more than a few dollars.
And one thing all the Masons I know have in common is they all own a bunch of pins.  And I don't know any Masons that don't wear at least one of these Masonic pins on their jacket lapels.  And many Masons collect them.  I've collected so many over the years I started sticking them in a piece of cork board on my office wall--makes it easy to select new pins when it is time to freshen up the jacket lapels. 

Some Masons only wear one, some a few, and others, like Bill Hussey's friend, wear as many pins as they have room on their lapels to display.  And before I start the same kind of controversy and discussion as Brian Schimian and I started with our piece about Masonic rings (points up or points down?) let me quickly say I believe how many pins you wear on your lapels is purely a matter of personal taste! 

And Masons share pins.  Greg Knott and I (Greg is also a Midnight Freemasons contributor) joined the Tall Cedars of Lebanon recently in Indianapolis.  We had a great time, and afterwards, we received pins, and pins, and pins.  One of the members there was friends with the current Grand Master of Tennessee, so Greg and I both have the Grand Master of Tennessee's pin--not many Illinois Masons have that particular pin.  I know a lot of Masons that when they find an interesting pin, they don't buy just one--they buy two.  They keep one, and they save one to give to a friend.  I enjoy doing that, too.

And there are special pins.  I remember helping a group of Scottish Rite Masons turn a costume room upside down one time looking for a pin that had been lost.  It was a pin that had belonged to the Mason's dad, and had been given to him when he was raised a Master Mason.  We finally found it, too.  It was stuck in the sole of one of our shoes.  It wasn't gold or silver or platinum.  It wasn't worth much at all.  Just a pin like you can buy any day of the week for $5 from the J.P. Luther catalogue.  But he was certainly very relieved to have it back.  The value of a thing isn't always what it's worth intrinsically, it's what it means to the man who proudly wears it.

I don't know exactly when Masonic pins came into fashion amongst Masons--probably about the time pocket watches went out along with Masonic watch chain fobs.  But I do know it's a time honored part of a Mason's "uniform" along with the ring.  And even the best collector in the world will ever own one of each.

I've said it many times before, but for a secret society, we sure don't do a very good job at the "secret" part when we wear so much information about our Masonic affiliations right on the lapels of our jackets.


Todd E. Creason, 33° is the founder of the Midnight Freemasons blog and continues to be a regular contributor. He is the author of several books and novels, including the Famous American Freemasons series. He is member of Homer Lodge No. 199, and a Past Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL). He is a member the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, the York Rite Bodies of Champaign/Urbana (IL), the Ansar Shrine (IL), Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees, and Charter President of the Illini High Twelve in Champaign-Urbana (IL).  You can contact him at:


  1. Pins are pretty much an American lodge fascination. Most European Masons wear no pins or rings, and UGLE does not allow pins or ties with masonic logos/crests during Grand Lodge.

  2. I find it interesting... we begin our journey being divested of anything metallic, then begin a life of collecting metal pins that represent the different areas within the craft. And I agree, as monetarily inexpensive as they are, we sure do become attached to them.