SHORT TALK BULLETIN - Vol.IV April, 1926 No.4


by:  Unknown

Of the five senses, the first three; hearing, seeing and feeling "are deemed most essential by Masons" for reasons which all Master Masons understand.

Masonry teaches more by hearing than by seeing.  "The attentive ear " we are told "receives the word (sound) from the instructive tongue." But no blind man may be made a Mason.  Vision, even if not used as much as audition, is employed by Masonry in educating her sons in knowledge of her light.

There are certain things in education which seeing can accomplish with much less difficulty than hearing.  Words are at best symbols, and all symbols have many interpretations.  It is not possible for one Masons to describe a scene to another so that both have the same mental picture; one cannot describe a perfume so that another may smell it, nor a pain or joy that another may feel it.  But one can show in a picture a scene which another can thus see eye to eye with the instructor.  Because both see the same thing, one can obtain from the other a better understanding of its meaning.

With this idea, Masonry has long taught to some extent by pictures; the familiar chart used in many lodges to show pictures of the various emblems is an example.  In other lodges, stereopticons showing pictures from glass lantern slides take the place of the chart.  Both have their objectionable features; the chart, if inexpensive, is also inefficient; the lantern, if efficient, is expensive and hard to operate, and the glass slides are breakable, subject to disarrangement as to their order, and are usually more or less monstrosities at to the art work; they have little of the Pillar of Beauty about them.

The stereopticon in lodge work is seldom or never developed to its full power, because of the difficulty of obtaining slides for lectures, talks and expositions of Masonic subjects.  It is a great illustrations plant with a tremendous overhead, because of its small and limited amount of use.

Masons of today are hungry for education.  But they want their education in an attractive form; in a form easy to understand and pleasant to absorb.  Masons will flock to an illustrated lecture on Freemasonry, when they'll leave the benches empty before the average speaker.

With all of these facts in mind, The Masonicscope, subject of this Bulletin, has been developed by The Masonic Service association, and is now offered to the Craft at a price far below that at which similar instruments can be bought in the commercial market.  The Masoniscope is a small, compact, well made and efficient projection lantern.  It uses any sort of electrical current; alternating, direct, Delco, storage battery, even an automobile battery current.  It projects pictures as large as eight by ten feet from non-flammable motion picture film, each foot of film having sixteen separate pictures.  It has and requires no rheostat or other current control device.  It uses a special glass bulb lamp, not an open arc.  It has condensers, reflector, projection lens, like any other projector, but differs from most of them in that it requires no special knowledge to operate.  Films are threaded into the machine in an instant, and changed, from one picture to another by the touch of a thumb screw.

It projects all the emblems for all three of the lectures of the Three Degrees, so that the chart, the stereopticon and expensive glass slides are no longer needed.  It can be used by the lecturer while delivering the lecture, or operated by a brother.  It makes the lectures more readily understood, and longer remembered, than the same lecture with just a chart.

In addition to this it provides a constant source of education and entertainment. The Masonic Service Association will issue a minimum of four, and probably six, illustrated lectures on some Masonic or Patriotic topic, every year.  These lectures will be printed in booklet form, and accompanied by a strip of film containing the illustrations.  With the printed lecture and the film, any brother can deliver one of these lectures for the benefit of his brethren.  All he need do is to read from the booklet and turn the screw at the points indicated in the text.

These educational lectures will cover a wide range of Masonic, patriotic and civic subjects.  The first of them, titled, "What Seest Thou?" is now ready.  It is a lecture on three of the great symbols of the Fellowcraft Degree; the Plumbline, the two Pillars and the Winding stairs.  Thirty-three illustrations make the text interesting, and the whole is highly instructive to Masons on some of the hidden meanings of these important symbols.  Other lectures , with illustrations, on symbols of the First and Third Degrees will follow shortly.

These lectures are not intended as substitutes for the ritual lectures; they are to be given, not during the a degree, but afterwards, or before; for the benefit and entertainment of the brethren.  Being printed, it is obvious that there is nothing secret in any of these lectures, and they may, therefore, be given elsewhere than an in a tiled lodge.

An illustrated lecture on the George Washington National Memorial as well as one upon The Masonic Service Association, and the films for the emblems of the Three Degrees, accompany each Masoniscope as part of its equipment.

Lectures upon "Civilian Patriots of the American Revolution" and "Military Patriots of the American Revolution," with text and pictures, are also now ready.

These supplementary lectures - booklets and film - are sold to Masoniscope owners at the nominal price of two dollars each.  There is practically no "wear out" to the film at all, so, it may be used over and over again.

The Masonic Service Association is prepared to render a special service to Grand Lodges or individuals desiring special lectures of their own.  Several Grand Lodges have already ordered films made in qualities to show to their subordinate lodges the work being done in their Masonic Homes.  The Masonic Service Association takes the original photographs supplied by such Grand Lodges, Lodges or individuals; does the necessary re-touching, makes the negatives and as many prints on strips of non-inflammable film as may be needed; edits, prepares for the printer and prints the lecture to go with them; and supplies the whole at a most modest fee, which covers the cost of handling only.  The amount will vary, of course, with the number of pictures to be filmed, and the amount of re-touching necessary to make the photographs give brilliant reproductions.  It is probably not wise to prophesy just what Masoniscope and this extra service will mean to Grand Lodges. but it at least opens a long sought way by which Grand Lodges may place before the membership of their subordinate lodges the pictorial as well as the verbal story of their practical achievements in homes, orphanages, schools, colleges and hospitals.

The Masoniscope comes as a complete outfit:

  • Masoniscope Lens Lamp Cord (fifteen feet)
  • Switch
  • Extra Lamp Carrying Case
  • Roll of film with emblems of the Three degrees. 
  • Roll of film to accompany printed lecture on George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
  • Roll of film to accompany printed lecture on The Masonic service Association of the united States.
  • "Cricket" or signal, to use when one brother reads and another operates the Masoniscope.
  • Inside Case for accessories Printed Lectures (2)

The price is $57.50 net, carriage extra, no discount for qualities.  It is to emphasized that the Masoniscope and all its accessories are of the highest grade, built to last and to wear.  The instrument is made by one of the leading optical firms of the nation, and must not be confused with some of the cheaper "tin" projectors which can be bought.

Beyond its use as a projector of pictures of the emblems in the ritual lectures of the Three Degrees; its employment to illustrate talks upon Masonic and patriotic subjects, and to show forth the accomplishments of the Craft; the Masoniscope has a power of entertainment which is of great value.  There are large libraries of films available, at a minimum cost, from which Entertainment Committees may select.  These films cover almost every imaginable subject; Travel, biography, history, science, etc., etc.  As the Masoniscope uses standard motion picture film, any subject from any of these libraries may be obtained and used.

It should be understood that the Masoniscope is not a motion picture projector, and does not use reels of films, such as are used in moving picture machines.  But these libraries of lecture subjects of which mention is made, are printed on stripes of standard film, on which are from twenty-five to seventy-five pictures to be used as illustrations for talks on a thousand and one subjects.

The Masonic Service Association believes that the use of the Masoniscope in lodges, with the supplementary lecture and film service it will provide, will add greatly not only to the education and information of the brethren, but to their entertainment and interest in the lodge.

We all like pictures of one sort or another; none of us ever grow too old to enjoy looking at them.  The illustrated lectures, both historical and Masonic, which The Association is offering are well illustrated.  Pictures for the lecture "What Seest Thou?" for instance, were secured from several ancient books, from a Dore Bible, from works on Masonry, from collections of pictures in the library of Congress; found, one by one, as a result of painstaking research, and fitted into a lecture on symbolism of which glowing words of praise are coming from lodges which have heard and seen it.

It is intended to present in these lectures all sides of Masonic study which lend themselves to illustration.  Lodges which get the whole series, one after another; in a short time will have a library of lectures and films which will enable them to entertain visiting lodges, or to stage evening of fraternal intercourse with other lodges, in a most appropriate manner.

It is suggested that, while individual ownership of the Masoniscope is advisable, it is not necessary.  Two or more lodges on one locality may purchase a Masoniscope between them, and each have the benefit of its use at half the price.

Correspondence is invited regarding this instrument.  If your lodge is interested in education; if your lodge likes illustrated lectures; if your entertainment committee can use an aid to lodge refreshment which can be employed over and over again at scarcely any cost and still be ever new; if your lodge desires to improve presentation of the emblems to the candidates; if your lodge has a study club or literary circle; if your lodge wants to hear the latest word from well informed Masonic teachers on matters of interest and value to the Craft, and see pictures which explain and make more vivid those words at the same time, your lodge needs a Masoniscope!