Master Mason Apron, c. 1790-1805
This apron was originally owned and worn by Col. Frisby Tilghman (1773-1847), son of Maryland’s first Attorney General, Judge James Tilghman (1743-1809), and his wife Sussana Steuart Tilghman (1749-1774). Col. Frisby Tilghman served as an Officer of the Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Maryland; serving as Junior Grand Warden under Grand Master John Crawford (1746-1813) in 1805 and as Senior Grand Warden under Grand Master Richard Pindell (1755-1833) in 1806. He constructed his residence, Rockland, near Hagerstown, Maryland in 1803. His first wife was Anna Maria Ringgold (1772-1817). His second wife was Louisa Lamar (1789-1843). After he died in 1847 he was interred in his family’s cemetery.
This apron is indicative of early Masonic aprons made in America after the Revolution. The design of this apron is probably derived from a number of prints from England of Masonic emblems, selected and arranged and traced onto the leather. By 1800 there was enough concern within the fraternity over the judicial use and placement of the Masonic emblems that several Lodges and Grand Lodges eventually ratified and formalized Masonic iconography in Europe and later in America. The first aprons to attract attention were engraved aprons as they served as a source of inspiration for the numerous hand painted, stencilled and embroidered aprons.