Book Review – Bohemian Masonic Glass

‘A completely unique narrative publication mapping the phenomenon of glass production for the needs of Masonic lodges, it also contains photographs of as yet unpublished or not yet exhibited exhibits, which have been identified in the depositories in the last decade.

It also contains a lot of information about Masonic symbolism and the history of Freemasonry in the Czech lands’.

 

Review by: Philippa Lee

Receiving a book like this to review is always a pleasure.

Having worked professionally as both an author, and former publishing manager, I know the sheer amount of hard work that goes into producing a beautiful, full colour, hard cover, reference/coffee-table book.

Not just by the authors but the entire publishing and production team; these kinds of books are a labour of love, and this one is a triumph. ‘Bohemian Masonic Glass’ is a weighty hardback, with 228 printed pages on heavy-weight gloss paper, lavishly illustrated with in-text and full-page high-quality photography.

Printed in both English and Czech, the authors Jacob Sadilek (a researcher in the history of the Bohemian Masonic movement) and Jitka Lněničková (an historian of Bohemian glass) convey a pleasant conversational, yet academic tone, with information that will be accessible to all.

Meticulously researched and referenced, the book also includes an ‘Overview of Masonic symbols’, an explanation on ‘What is not Masonic glass’, copious notes, indexes, and literature review.

One of my own sayings is that ‘behind every book is a story’ – I don’t mean the actual story or narrative content, but whyit was written, what compelled the author(s) to become fascinated or curious about a subject so much that they want to spend years researching and writing it.

So, I was immediately drawn to the first heading:

‘The Story of This BOOKPrologue over a Coffee’.

One sunny autumn afternoon sometime around the mid-1990s, this book’s future co-authors first met personally at a table on which there were about 20 masonic glasses.

Next to them were two cups of coffee and in the air was the question as to which of the glasses was of Bohemian provenance.

And at that time, a researcher in the history of the Bohemian masonic movement and a historian of Bohemian glass discovered that, despite joining forces, they were unable to answer it at that moment.

However, with the next cup of coffee, they agreed that it was a remarkable topic that would be worthwhile pursuing and trying to identify masonic glass from the Czech lands.

None of them had any idea how long it would take.

That afternoon the story of the book started being written.

Like many meticulously researched books, it took the authors ‘two decades of searching’ to begin to piece together what would result in not only a book but the first exhibition of Bohemian Masonic Glass in the Czech Lands.

They discovered there was indeed many examples of Masonic glassware in the various museums, Masonic lodges, private collections, and auctions but much lacked consistent provenance or evidence that it was directly of Bohemian origin.

However, with persistence and passion, they slowly began to gather the information; archives were studied, comparisons made and bit by bit the collection grew.

By 2017, a third attempt to stage an exhibition of Bohemian Masonic glass was successful – entitled ‘The Glass of Masonic Lodges’, it was held in November of that same year at the Klatovy Pavilion of Glass.

Although not large in scale, the collection presented some spectacular pieces for the first time and was of great interest to Masons, and the general public.

Not only did the exhibition examine the history of glassmaking within Bohemia, but it also demonstrated the context of Freemasonry in an historical aspect and the fraternity’s use of glassware within the lodges.

The authors sum up the story of their work and its continuation:

This book is, in some way, a continuation of the exhibition and an extension of its life following the return of the exhibits to museum depositories and private collections.

Ours is a work in progress. Neither that exhibition or this book have brought an end to the authors’ path through the worlds of the past and present of masonic glass.

There are still many things that are hidden away and are waiting to be found.

Each fresh piece of knowledge leads to other opportunities of where to go, where to turn to.

And when the image seems to be definitive, something new always seems to appear….

The subject of Bohemian Masonic glass may not initially appeal to you but when you see some of the stunning examples, you will understand why the authors became immersed in their subject.

Masonic symbolism is beautiful enough in its own right but combine it with works of art and it takes on a whole new dimension.

Jacob Sadilek

Jacob “Jaap” Sadilek MSc is a Czech-Dutch expert on the history of Freemasonry in Central Europe.

He is also the Chairman of Praga Masonica Society

www.pragamasonica.org

info@pragamasonica.org

 

Jitka Lněničková PhD is a leading Czech historian, specialising in the subject of glass.

České zednářské sklo – Bohemian Masonic Glass

By: Jacob Sadilek, Jitka Lněničková

Publisher: Graphiurs, Praha 2020
ISBN: 978-80-905387-0-2
Hardcover, 228pp, illustrated
Language: Czech/English

Email to order

 

Article by: Philippa Lee

Philippa Lee (writes as Philippa Faulks) is the author of eight books, an editor and researcher.

Philippa was initiated into the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons (HFAF) in 2014.

Her specialism is ancient Egypt, Freemasonry, comparative religions and social history. She has several books in progress on the subject of ancient and modern Egypt.  Selection of Books Online at Amazon

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