Throughout the Irish, English and Scottish Constitutions, there are many Brethren who collect Masonic Jewels, token, circulars, certificates and similar artifacts of Masonic Interest. Back in the year 1990, a number of Masonic Collectors came together at Edgebaston Masonic Centre in Birmingham and formed a new collectors and study Society which was known as J.O.C.T. ( Jewels of the Craft ). This Association grew quickly in numbers and produced a magazine The Diadem filled with short articles, illustrations and details of rare and unusual jewels, their manufacturers and other articles of interest to Masonic collectors. Twice a year they held Swap Meetings in the Edgebastion facilities in Birmingham.
By the middle of 1995, it became clear that there was support amongst the members of Jewels of the Craft to support the foundation of a new Lodge, comprised of members from Jewels in the Craft. The necessary application was submitted to the Board of General Purposes of U.G.L.E. and Warrant No 9612 was duly issued to the Brethren concerned to hold a new Lodge, to be known as The Thomas Harper Lodge and they were also granted permission to strike a Founder Jewel, based on one of the original jewel designs produced by Thomas Harper in the 18th Century. Anyone seeking further information on Jewels of the Craft and the Thomas Harper Lodge will easily find same on the internet.
Since its consecration on the 22nd June 1996, the Lodge has progressed and grown right up to the present day. This year, the Lodge Master, Wor Brother Tom Maxwell, an Irish Mason originally from County Down has become the first Master of the Thomas Harper research Lodge. To mark his installation, he brought a party of members from the Thomas Harper Lodge to Belfast, to attend an Irish Installation, and then on Saturday I opened the Rosemary Street Museum and welcomed the group, who spent a lively couple of hours looking at our many artifacts. They eventually, and reluctantly left to resume their visit to Belfast, before their return to the UK this morning.