Lambskin Apron

More ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honourable than the Star and Garter …

In these words the ritual seeks to impress upon him who has been invested with the white lambskin apron its value and its importance.

Philip, Duke of Burgundy, in 1429
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The Order of the Golden Fleece was founded by Philip, Duke of Burgundy, in 1429.

The Roman Eagle was Rome’s symbol and ensign of power and might a hundred years before Christ.

The Order of the Star was created by John II of France in the middle of the Fourteenth Century.

The Order of the Garter was founded by Edward III of England in 1349 for himself and twenty-five Knights of the Garter.

It is commonly supposed that the apron became the “badge of a Mason” because stonemasons wore aprons to protect their clothing from the rough contact of building material.

But the apron is far, far older than Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, than the Star or Garter, than the stonemasons of the Middle Ages – aye, older than the Comacine Masters, the Collegia of Rome, the Dionysian Artificers who preceded them.

Grabkammer des Kenamun, Oberhaushofmeister des Königs, Szene: Pfeilträger by Maler der Grabkammer des Kenamun circa 1448-1422 BC
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The Hebrew prophets wore aprons and the high priests were so decorated. In the mysteries of Egypt and of India aprons were worn as symbols of priestly power.

The earliest Chinese secret societies used aprons; the Essenes wore them, as did the Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico.

Throughout the Old Testament are references to lambs, often in connection with sacrifices, frequently used in a sense symbolic of innocence, purity, gentleness, weakness, a matter aided by colour, which we unconsciously associate with purity, probably because of the hue of snow.

This association is universal in Freemasonry, and the initiate should strive to keep his apron white and himself innocent.

His badge of a Mason should symbolize in its colour the purity of his Masonic character; he should forever be innocent of wrong toward all but “more especially a brother Mason.”

Entered Apprentice Freemason
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With the presentation of the apron the lodge accepts the initiate as worthy.

It entrusts to his hands its distinguishing badge. With it and symbolized by it comes one of the most precious and most gracious of gifts: the gift of brotherhood.

Lucky the Entered Apprentice who has the wit to see the extent and the meaning of the gift; thrice lucky the lodge whose initiates find in it and keep that honour, probity and power, that innocence, strength, and spiritual contact, that glory of unity and oneness with all the Masonic world which may be read into this symbol by him who hath open eyes of the heart with which to see.

In the words of the Old Dundee Lodge – Apron Charge:


It is yours to wear throughout an honourable life, and at your death to be placed upon the coffin which shall contain your mortal remains and with them laid beneath the silent clods of the valley.

Let its pure and spotless surface be to you an ever-present reminder of a purity of life and rectitude of conduct, a never-ending argument for nobler deeds, for higher thoughts, for greater achievements.

And when at last your weary feet shall have come to the end of their toilsome journey, and from your nerveless grasp shall drop the working tools of life, may the record of your thoughts and actions be as pure and spotless as this emblem…


For thus, and thus only, may it be worn with pleasure to yourself and honour to the Fraternity.

Article by: Carl H. Claudy

Carl Harry Claudy (1879 – 1957) was an American author, magazine writer, and journalist for the New York Herald.

His association with Freemasonry began in 1908, when, at the age of 29, he was raised a master Mason in lodge Harmony No. 17 in Washington, DC. He served as its master in 1932 and eventually served as Grand Master of Masons in the District of Colombia in 1943.

His Masonic writing career began in earnest when he became associated with the Masonic service Association in 1923, serving as associate editor of its magazine, The master mason, until 1931.

Under his leadership the service Association was brought to a place of predominance through his authorship and distribution of the short talk bulletin which made his name familiar to virtually every lodge in the country.

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