Masonic Dag. 1
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Rare Full-Plate Daguerreotype of a c. 1850s Petersburg, Va. Guild Member

Petersburg, Virginia in 1865

Courthouse in Petersburg, Va. in 1865


Rare Full-Plate Daguerreotype of a c. 1850s Petersburg, Va. Guild Member – This half plate image was recently found in Blandford Masonic Lodge No. 3, in Petersburg, Va. The lodge had many early to mid-19th century items, including an extremely rare, 18th century, Petersburg crafted, corner chair, which will soon be featured on the Perry Adams Antiques’ web site. Blandford Lodge No. 3 was chartered on September 9, 1757, by the Grand Lodge of Scotland; its original charter is still in its possession. Blandford (now within the city limits of Petersburg) was a village located in the County of Prince George, Virginia, in the 18th century. Lodge No. 3 purchased the old Presbyterian church on Tabb street, in 1825; this original church was located adjacent to Tabb St. Methodist Church, which is still extant.  Blandford’s first lodge was, as mentioned, in the community of Blandford.  The Lodge met for years in the Masons hall in Blandford, until the great fire, in the year 1819, destroyed the Lodge building. Also destroyed were the minutes of the Lodge, from the date of its charter, until the year 1815. After the fire, it met in several locations until, by the means of a lottery to secure enough funds to build a new meeting hall, a building was secured, in 1829, on Tabb Street, in Petersburg, Virginia. The Lodge actively met in that building for one hundred forty years. In 1969, it moved to new quarters, which are owned jointly by the Masonic organizations in Petersburg. The Lodge Building today sits near the intersection of E. Wythe and South Sycamore Streets. The Grand Lodge of Virginia dedicated this building in 1988.

In 1829, lodge minutes indicate that the Petersburg Benevolent Mechanical Association rented the first floor of the Tabb street building from the Masons.  It seems to have operated some kind of school there. On August 4, 1849, the Masons, Sons of Temperance and Society of Odd Fellows participated together in a memorial parade for President James K. Polk. Members of today’s Blandford Lodge No. 3 A.F. & A.M. of Petersburg, Virginia assure us that this image does not depict a mason. For this reason, we believe that the gentleman in this daguerreotype was either a member of the Petersburg Benevolent Mechanical Association, the Sons of Temperance or the Society of Odd Fellows, all of which probably met in rented spaces in the Tabb Street lodge building, in the 1850s.

This rare image is in overall fair condition; it has some tarnishing and mirroring, as well as some scuffs to the plate, but the image, at the correct angle, remains sharp. The lodge or guild member shown wears some form of ceremonial apron, silver compass medallion and decorative chest garlands. He holds what appears to be a large mallet, as well. This image was definitely taken some time in the mid-1850s. It remains housed in its original, period, ogee, mahogany veneer frame, with its original glass – all in great condition. The image proper, behind the glass, was mounted, in the period, with a heavy, black and gilded matting, surrounding the image. We will continue to try to determine the identity of the sitter; regardless, this is a fine and rare image, having been in the possession of Petersburg’s Blandford Lodge No. 3 for 160+ years.

The frame and image measure as follows: Frame – 19.5” x 16.25”; interior or mat – 12.5” x 9.5”; image – 8” x 6.25”.

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