GRAND TILERS OF SOLOMON
This interesting Grade was formerly known under the title of: “Masons Elect of the Twenty-Seven” or “Select Masons of the 27,” and is found in many different countries, although records are by no means abundant. There can be little doubt that this Grade and the Grade of “Select Master” owe their origin to a common source. In his “Masonic Orations,” published in 1803, Frederick Dalcho mentions that in addition to the regular degrees of the Scottish Rite, they possessed many detached degrees and among those mentioned is “Select Masters of 27.” Elsewhere there is mention of “Select Masons of the 27,” etc., indicating that the Grade which we now work as “Grand Tilers of Solomon” is of very close resemblance to the present-day “Select Master.”
Early evidence of the Grade is contained in “History of the Cryptic Rite,” where is reproduced a diploma issued by Moses Cohn to Abraham Jacobs, dated November 9th, 1790, which, in addition to some of the regular Grades of the Rite of Perfection, mentions the “Select Mason of Twenty-seven.” There are also other references to such a Grade at an early date.
The Jamaica Ritual, purporting to have been used by Morin in the West Indies in the eighteenth century, is yet available for study and indicates a close adherence to the present working of the Allied Grade, while at the same time it indicates a direct line to the Select Master. However, following the trend of thought here introduced, the origin of the one Grade would be the birth of the other and the two Grades, while somewhat different today, indicated formerly one Grade. The Allied Grade merely holds to older working and has not been amplified and changed by too many hands. It appears to be old work.
Thus, it is evident that the Grade is an American product and our records her are earlier than yet have been found elsewhere. The Ritual now used by The Grand Council is the same as that used by England and is a product of late nineteenth century American ritualists. The Ritual is of deep interest to those who really understand early Ritual and the environs in which it was created. Many lessons may be found in simple and easily explained ceremonies of the nineteenth century.
The Jewel of the Grade is a black delta, edged with gold, pointed downward, containing in the center “27” in Hebrew characters. On the reverse appears the Tetragrammaton in the Kabalistic Order. The Jewel is suspended from a scarlet ribbon, edged with pale gray, on which is a hand grasping a sword and surmounted by three crowns.
The Apron of the Grade is of black, with gold border. In the center is a gold crown, while on the flap in gold, is a hand grasping a sword.
The Sash of the Grade is approximately four inches in width; scarlet in the center, with pale gray on either side thereof.