VERITAS A primus jewel comes home

W Bro Scott Moffat LGR describes this wonderful journey

I bring you a tale of history, discovery, hope, hopelessness and drama. It all starts with a gentleman and Brother named Richard Joseph Sadleir, born in London, March 1863.

His Masonic career began when has was Initiated in to Playgoers Lodge No 2705 in March 1899. Although I m sure his Mother Lodge was dear to his heart, it simply would not be enough for Bro Richard. He went on to join fourteen other Lodges and was a consecrator/honorary member of a further nine! He was also a member of seven Chapters, three Mark Lodges and two R.A.M. Lodges. He also joined Knights Templar, Knights Templar Priests, Rose Croix and the Knights of Malta, to name a few others. It was not uncommon for Bro Richard to attain Provincial and Grand Offices in each of the orders he joined.

Although you might not know Bro Richard by name, quite a few UGLE Freemasons have an unknowing connection to him, through his son-in-law. On January 21st 1918 an Initiate in to Panmure Lodge No 720 (which Bro Richard was a member of and Veritas Mother Lodge) was Bro Cyril Spackman who was the Designer of the Hallstone Jewel.

Of all the units and orders Bro Richard was a member of, he still found time to further his Masonic education and contributions. Of the fifteen Lodges he was a member of, he founded five, and even wrote his own Veritas Ritual, which six Lodges still use today. In 1927 The Veritas Lodge, No 4983 was founded, consecrated in 1928 and later in 2018, amalgamated with one its daughter Lodges, The Lodge of Further Progress No 8380, to become The Veritas Lodge of Further Progress, No 4983. This is the Lodge which is the focus of the story, one of the six remaining Lodges to still use Veritas Workings. To honour Bro Richard they keep and display a picture of him at the Secretary and Treasurer s desk.

Once Bro Richard passed to The Grand Lodge Above, he left his family with a literal horde of Masonic regalia, jewels, summons, Secretarial paperwork and other pieces of paraphernalia attached to the units he visited and was a member of. As you could imagine this was no small task to sort!

Flash-forward to October 27th 2020, W Bro Andy Cunningham, alerted The Worshipful Master of The Veritas Lodge of Further Progress to an auction containing a Veritas Jewel. None other than the Primus Jewel, which is a Past Master Jewel, awarded to the first Worshipful Master of the Lodge. Going through the Lots of this auction, there were other jewels that were heavily linked to Bro Richard; A Past Master s Jewel for Wandsworth Borough Council Lodge No 2979 and a Primus Jewel for Amor Lodge No 5330 (another Lodge that Bro Richard founded), both Veritas Working Lodges.

Then there were two mixed lots containing amongst other things a Veritas Lodge Founder Jewel, as well as a Founder Jewel for Beaux Arts Lodge No 5707, a Lodge that Bro Richard founded with his Son-In-Law Bro Spackman. Another mixed lot contained the Veritas Chapter No 4983 Founder Jewel, which Comp Richard also founded and was its first MEZ. It quickly became apparent that all of the Masonic lots should come back to their spiritual home.

The Brethren of the Lodge were informed of the plan to bid and win the Primus Jewel and attempt to win back the two mixed lots containing the Founder Jewels. The Worshipful Master also took to social media platforms, to ask Brethren not to bid on the Primus Jewel and mixed lots, with the pledge that he would return the other jewels to their respective spiritual homes.

We were confident. The Lodge members had contributed funds to easily secure the three lots. The Primus Jewel was estimated at £360, the five mixed silver Founder Jewels at £90 and the lot containing the Chapter Founder Jewel at a comfortable £35. Easy pickings! Or so we thought.

November 9th 2020 the day of the auction. Lot 1 went under the hammer at 10am, and we had to wait for over 400 more lots to sell. At 15:40pm the Primus Jewel went up for sale, which we managed to win for a little over the estimation.

The Lodge Treasurer and Master were celebrating their success remotely. A few more lots to go for one of the mixed lots.

The bidding kicks off at £40. Quickly, very quickly, the lot steams past its high-end estimation of £90. Within seconds the figure was over £200, within seconds more it was at £400. The bidding ended with the lot going at £800. The Lodge Founder Jewel was lost, we had been beaten.

All hope was not lost, we had the Primus Jewel and we could still win the Chapter Founder Jewel. A mixed lot with a highend value of £35, what could go wrong? Well apparently it did, as with the former lot, the bidding shot through the roof and ended up going for £420, once again, we had been outbid.

We contacted the auction house to make enquiries about payment and to plead for our details to be passed on to the winner of the lots we d been outbid on. The person on the end of the phone, said that the likelihood of this happening was slim, as it wasn t their usual policy to pass on details and that if we hadn’t heard back from them the following day, assume that the details were unable to be passed on. A week went by and we managed to speak to the winner of the other two lots the very next day. We had hoped that the winner was also a Freemason, so that we could strike a deal to obtain the jewels with no financial loss their end. It was a private collector and so we worried about being vulnerable to profiteering. This was absolutely not the case the gentleman was humbled by the tale and hard work put in to try and get this Jewels back. It was agreed to sell the jewels at no profit to him so that they could be returned to Veritas.

The Jewels are now safely in the possession of The Worshipful Master. The next stage for them is to have a little restoration work done on them, a couple of ribbon replacements and a bit of a polish! The Lodge will then reframe the picture of our Founding Master, so Bro Richard s Jewels can be alongside his picture, which The Veritas Lodge of Further Progress promise will be proudly displayed for generations to come!

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 43 January 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 43.