Nobody Wants Your Parents Masonic Stuff

by Midnight Freemasons Contributor
WB Scott S. Dueball

Authors note: the original idea for this piece came from this article posted earlier this year. I encourage the reader to take a look at that as well.

If you are responsible for your lodge in any capacity, you have likely received requests to take “donations” from the families of deceased Brethren. Often these requests come years after the passing of the Brother when the wife or children have begun to clean out nightstands and crawlspaces. A request to take back some of these items is likely tied to the giver’s naivetè regarding their value. They are afraid to discard something that may be valuable. Given this uncertainty regarding value, the donation becomes akin to those family heirloom china, crystal, or furniture.

I have received or been promised a few special items which I will cherish dearly. As these things hold sentimental value to me personally and lack any functional value to the rest of the world, I cannot expect them to be appreciated by my children. In the same way, many of the items I have cleaned out of our lodge storage lack sentimental or functional value. In truth, many (not all) of these donations are a transference of the burden from the family to the passed Brother’s Lodge. I don’t mean to insinuate a nefarious act on the part of the donor. It’s mere ignorance of the stuff they have or unwillingness to be the one to pitch something that may be meaningful.

I understand the compassion that strikes us when contacted by a widow. While helping our widows and orphans is laudable, cluttering up storage with items for a future Brother to deal with is not. Our lodges simply don't have the space or the need to house multiple copies of the same printing of Mackey’s Encyclopedia, old fezzes, or 47 years of lapel pins. Things that don’t serve a purpose 
(historical significance, novelty, monetary) are valueless and it should be alright to let them go. But I too struggle with letting go of someone else’s effects.

It is probably best to offer the books to a library or research lodge. Do your best to put them in the position to provide use to future generations. As for the pins, certificates, fezzes, etc, you don’t need to hold on to them. Offering these things to anyone else is only going to add pressure to take them. And I will tell you that, sooner or later, we have to let the meaningless stuff go. 


WB Scott S. Dueball is the Worshipful Master of D.C. Cregier Lodge No. 81 in Wheeling, IL and holds a dual membership in Denver Lodge No. 5 in Denver, CO. He currently serves the Grand Lodge of Illinois as the State Education Officer. Scott is also a member of the Palatine York Rite bodies and the Valley of Chicago A.A.S.R.-N.M.J. He is passionate about the development of young masons, strategy and visioning for Lodges. He can be reached at


  1. I've had more than one conversation with a family member who has discovered Granddad's Commandery sword in the attic and thinks he has uncovered the Lost Treasure of the Incas. You burst a few bubbles when you tell them the Lodge has a closet full of them.

  2. I once heard an idea where the Lodge has a fundraiser to "resell" these Masonic treasures to its members, taking any money earned for some just cause. It's a great way to both honor the former owners and keep these little items "in the Masonic family."

  3. I've also found that the lazier, sneakier, greedier types think that consulting their local lodge historian is a clever way of getting a free ballpark appraisal before listing the heirloom on eBay, where it often fails to sell for some crazy Buy-It-Now price. Just look at all the things listed--legions of cynical sellers trying to unload dad's or grandpa's beloved masonic stuff for whatever ca$h they can get.

  4. I do agree, not many of our lodges can handle donations from families of certain items. Diplomas and pins, coins and books can become more of a burden than significant. I have at times had to refuse certain items due to our storage capacity. With 26,000 Masonic items in our collection, there is a time to determine what to take and what not to take.

  5. I fully agree. Diplomas, pins, coins, books can be overwhelming to most Masonic lodges that are given by past members families. Even in our collection of 26,00 0 pieces there is a time we have to say no to this or that. We just do not have the room. Hard to say no when this item belonged to a member. I have always stated we can not save everything, but there are diamonds in the rough. I just hate when I hear about families or lodges that throw away items, that breaks my heart.


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