The Mason’s Mallet
As an emblem of authority in a Masonic Lodge, the mallet is invested with a good deal of interest. To those Companions and Brethren who want to know more, this paper is dedicated.
For our purposes here, the terms Mallet and Gavel are interchangeable, but in actual fact they are not.
The Freemason is taught in the course of the First Degree that the Mallet (here we use “Common Gavel”) is an important instrument of labour, and learns at a later stage that it is an emblem by which a Master is invested with the authority to rule his Lodge. It is at once the first tool to be put in untrained hands of the apprentice, and a symbol of the highest office to which an apprentice may aspire when he has become a Master Mason, even to the office of Grand Master itself.
Considerable confusion exists as to the Mallet, the Gavel, and the Setting Maul. As you may notice, the common gavel we use in Masonry has a boat shaped head, with one end forming a point, which allows the user to knock off all “superfluous knobs and excrescences”
The Mallet generally has a round head, is a smaller cousin of the maul, but has a relatively large head and is one of the Working Tools of a Mark Master Mason. It is used with a chisel to dress the stone. Correctly speaking, a Gavel generally has a cylindrical head, with the handle in the middle, and is often used by Judges, Chairmen of meetings, etc to call order.
The Setting Maul would be familiar to all Master Masons. It is essentially a handle with a large padded end. The use of this tool is to knock or bump the stones into position without damaging them.
As the Sceptre is to the King or Queen, so is the Mallet to the Master.
On that night which should be the proudest night in his Masonic life when a brother is placed in the Chair of his Lodge, he is presented with the Gavel as an emblem of authority, and to allow him to keep order in his Lodge. The acceptance of the Gavel by a Master is an acknowledgement that the honour, the reputation of the Lodge is now in his keeping. It’s an onerous responsibility indeed.
Whatever the form the Mallet may assume, or whatever material it is made of, the moral lessons to be drawn from it are the same, and whether wielded by the Master as a symbol of authority, or handled by an Entered Apprentice as a working tool, it is an emblem that illustrates the highest aims of our ancient Craft. Ref: William Harvey Anthology 1922 J.P: USGC E&D Task Force.
Comment It was not until I read this paper that it sank in to me that there were in fact THREE types of Mallets, each with a distinct purpose.
I now see that the Junior Warden could be using the Mallet when presenting the Working Tools in the Entered Apprentice Degree.
The Master most definitely the Common Gavel of authority, and stretching the tasks facing the Senior Warden, could or should be provided with the Setting Maul to keep us all in due bounds.
It never ceases to amaze me the lessons to be learned in our Spiritual Journey.
Have a wonderful Day & God Bless