The Secret Society Pin

Masonic Antiques

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Robert H. Johnson

Postcard of the Masonic temple in Chicago.
At one time, tallest structure in the world.
As a kid, my mom would drag me to antique stores, craft stores and fabric stores looking for whatever it was she was looking for. I hated it. I'd get hot, bored and eventually find myself hiding in clothing racks or just plain old sitting on the floor, leaned back on a wall with a bottle of coke and a comic book. 

As I got older, I started to not mind the antique stores as much. Sure, the cat and fabric stores still drove me to the brink of, well, whatever you can be driven to the brink of as a 12 year old. I mostly just sat in the car and read my comic books. But when we went to antique stores or malls, I found myself looking at interesting things, historical things and just plain cool things.

The first thing I developed an interest for and something I started collecting was little wooden boxes, like small treasure chests. I had probably five or six of them at the height of my collection, which doesn't sound like a lot, but remember, they were antique, so they weren't cheap.

Commemorative plate of the 1963 World Fair's
Masonic Center.
One day, while browsing an antique store I ran across something I really hadn't before. A box of old comic books. I sifted through them and started cherry picking certain ones that met my criteria; good condition, interesting stories, poly bagged and most of all, cheap. I did still have to ask my mom if she would buy them for me. Over the years, I amassed quite the collection. My favorites were always by Gold Key, they published some neat Disney books as well as Star Trek. I was never a fan so much of superheroes, I stuck to science fiction and the like. As I grew older, I transitioned to Tales from the Crypt and other neat horror comics of the time. Looking back, it was fantastic. I still read comics to this day, not much has changed.

After becoming a Freemason, antique stores held yet another thing for me to look out for. Every once in a while (once a month) I will stop by the local mall for a walk around. It usually takes me about an hour. You'll always find certain Masonic things e.g. pins, fezzes and pocket knives. But many of the items are actually new or just a couple years old. They get passed off as antiques because most people think we don't exist anymore and hence, it must be an antique. But every once in a while, I find a gem. Something that is truly remarkable. Again, things must meet the criteria; affordable, authentic and intriguing.
"Secret Society" pin which I recently bought. 

My most recent trip was just last week, where I found myself looking at a set of bronze Masonic bookends. The price was right, $45 for the set, but, I thought "Where am I going to put those?" And then I continued my browsing. I was at the end of the antique walkabout when I spotted a peculiar pin. The tag said "Secret Society Pin" and was marked $10. Needless to say, I bought it. I can't call it exclusively Masonic because, well, who knows. But it is certainly applicable to the craft. Pictured here in this post are just a few of the finds which I have been lucky enough to have found.

If you're like me, and enjoy a kind of "treasure hunt" then I hope the hunt is good to you. Have fun and share your finds with me, after all...


Bro. Robert Johnson, 32° is the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons blog. He is a Freemason out of the First North-East District of Illinois. He is the Master of Waukegan Lodge No. 78 and Education officer for the 1st N.E. District of Illinois as well as a member on the Grand Lodge Education Committee. He is also a member of the York Rite bodies, AMD, The Illinois Lodge of Research and a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago as well as a charter member of the Society of King Solomon, a charity organization run by the Grand Lodge of Illinois. Brother Johnson currently produces and hosts weekly Podcasts (internet radio programs) Whence Came You? & Masonic Radio Theatre which focus on topics relating to Freemasonry. In addition, he produces video shorts focusing on driving interest in the Fraternity and writes original Masonic papers from time to time. He is also a co-host of The Masonic Roundtable, a Masonic talk show. He is a husband and father of three. He works full time in the safety industry and is also a photographer on the side as well as an avid home brewer. He is currently working on a book of Masonic essays.


  1. We are the keepers of the curiosities of the craft, just one high light for me was a bronze 1900's Square & Compass pitcher frame. It came from the original owners grand son. It includes the original photo,as well as his Masonic record! !

  2. This pin is actually a play off of the original membership badge worn by members of the Adelphean Society, the first women's secret society founded May 15, 1851 and is now known as Alpha Delta Pi.