Ars Quatuor Coronatorum are the volumes of Transactions published each year since its constitution in 1886 by the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Research, No. 2076, London, England.
They contain the treatises read before the Lodge, discussions, Minutes of the Lodge,
miscellaneous short articles, many illustrations as informative as the text, book reviews, obituaries, lists of members, etc. The typical treatise is a one-part essay (though some are of two or more parts) prepared with much care and labor by a specialist in some chosen field of Masonic study or research; it usually contains a bibliography, and is followed by discussions, written out with care and oftentimes in advance, which have in many instances been as weighty and as instructive as the treatise they have criticized.
Treatises and discussions both are independent, responsible, uncolored by personal feelings ; are critical of each other. With their more than fifty volumes the Ars are now a larger set of books than the Encyclopedia Britannica, and perform the function for Masonic knowledge that is performed by the Britannica and similar works for general knowledge; since almost every contributor to the Ars has been a trained scholar, at least has been a specialist in some field of scholarship, the academic standards are higher than those of popular encyclopedias.
Book dealers' catalogs for 1945 (to give one year for purposes of comparison) list complete sets at from $500 to $ 1200. Masonic students however need not wholly deny themselves ownership of Ars because the lack of early volumes has created a scarcity value for the whole set ; there is no continuity from one volume to another, therefore without reader's loss he can start with whatever earliest volume he can find.
In its Masonic Papers, Vol. l, page 263, Research Lodge, No. 281, Seattle, Washington, publishes a complete Index of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum; Part I, an index of titles; Part II, an index of authors. The last item in Part I is numbered 770 ; this is somewhat in excess of the total number of treatises in A.C. because of cross-indexing and because inaugural Addresses, etc., are incltided. The treatises on Freemasonry in the United States (which is 200 years old and in which are some 90% of the Masons of the world) are: "Freemasonry in America," by C. P. Maccalla (very brief) ; III, p. 123. "The Carmick MS." (of Philadelphia), by WV. J. Hughan; XXII, pg5.
"Distribution in the U. S. of Anderson's Constitutions" (brief and incomplete), by Charles S. Plumb; XLIII, p. 227. "Josiah H. Drummond" (a short biographical sketch), by R. F. Gould ; X, p. 165. "Benjamin Franklin" (brief), by H. C. de Lafontaine ; XLI, p. 3. "Masonry in West Florida and the 31st Foot" (brief), by R. F. Gould; XIII, p. 69. "Morgan Incident of 1826," by J. Hugo Tatsch; XXXIV, p. 196. "Theodore Sutton Parvin" (brief biographical sketch), by R. F. Gould; XV, p. 29. "Albert Pike" (brief biographical sketch), by R. F. Gould ; lV, p. 116.
The Encyclopedia Masonica exists to preserve the wealth of information that has been generated over the centuries by numerous Masonic authors. As Freemasonry is now Speculative and not Operative, the work of a Mason is now conducted in the quarries of symbolism, literature, history and scholasticism. Freemasonry encourages intellectual exploration and academic achievement in its members and many Masons over the years have taken up this calling. The result has been that an incredible amount of philosophy, symbolic speculation and academic insights have been created. However, as Freemasonry teaches, human knowledge is frail and fragile. It is easily lost in the turnings of the ages and unforeseen catastrophes can result in great setbacks to human knowledge.
For too long these great works have sat on forgotten shelves, gathering dust and concealing the light that could be shed on the darkness of our ignorance. The Encyclopedia Masonica has been created to act as an ark, sailing through time, to ensure that future generations of Freemasons have access to the same knowledge that inspired the Brethren that came before them. It will contain the works of such Masonic Luminaries as Albert G. Mackey, Manly Palmer Hall, G.S.M. Ward, Albert Pike and many others. The Encyclopedia Masonica is a living work and the volunteers of Universal Co-Masonry will continue to labor until the most comprehensive Masonic reference work the world has ever seen has been created. The Encyclopedia Masonica is open to any who wish to use it and will remain open so that the treasures contained within may increase the wealth of all those who seek its wisdom.
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