The Isle of Man, which sits in the middle of the Irish Sea smack dab between England and Ireland, has just issued a series of postage stamps that commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of the United Grand Lodge of England.
From Linn's Stamp News website yesterday:
The Isle of Man Post Office has added a hidden logo to its set of six stamps celebrating 300 years of English Freemasonry’s first Grand Lodge. The stamps will be issued May 11.
In announcing the issue, the Isle of Man Post Office said: “The stamps are filled with symbols and references including a hidden logo only visible under UV light, GPS references to places important in Freemasonry including those on the Isle of Man and a subtle ribbon honouring the 50th year of the office of the current Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent [Prince Edward, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II].
The hidden image is the official logo of 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The stamps feature the badges of office of the senior officers within the lodge. Pictured in the background are symbolic architectural elements from lodges and related locations in England and the Isle of Man.
The designs also include GPS references to these places. According to information from the Isle of Man Post Office, these are the Freemasons’ Hall on the Isle of Man, 20 pence; the main lodge room at the Grand Lodge, Queen Street, London, nondenominated first-class stamp; the Freemasons’ Hall in Bristol, 50p; the Masonic Memorial Garden at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, £1.30; and the plaque marking the site of the Goose and Gridiron Public House in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where the first grand lodge was formed 300 years ago, £1.74.
The £3.40 high denomination includes several GPS references. The Isle of Man Post Office said that these “represent the charitable giving of Freemasons and refer to three landing pads of the Air Ambulance service in Caernarfon (Wales), RAF Benson (Thames Valley) and Royal London Hospital (London). The GPS references are accompanied by the Call Signs of the helicopters that have saved so many lives.” For more information about the stamps, visit the website of the Isle of Man Post Office.Here's a photo of the "hidden image" under UV light. Actually, pretty cool idea.
Politically and internationally, the Isle of Man is unusual, especially considering its location. The island is its own self-governing territory that is classed as a "dependency" of the English crown, yet is not actually part of the United Kingdom, nor the European Union. Despite that, they are technically regarded as British citizens. The island has about 84,000 citizens living on it.
Masonically, the island is a Provincial Grand Lodge of the UGLE and has 19 lodges, plus appendant bodies. According to their website:
Freemasonry in the Isle of Man can be traced back to 1765 when the first Lodge met in Douglas under the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The Athole Lodge No 1004 was the first Lodge to meet under the United Grand Lodge of England in 1885. The Provincial Grand Lodge of the Isle of Man was inaugurated on Wednesday 29th September 1886 in the Masonic Lodge Rooms, Loch Promenade, Douglas and a complete report of the proceedings appeared in the Isle of Man Times.
It is recorded that the visiting Grand Officers together with the Provincial Grand Master travelled by train to Ramsey on 30th September 1886 and were met by the Worshipful Master, Officers and Brethren of St. Maughold Lodge and entertained to lunch at the Mitre Hotel. They then went for a ride via Lewaigue to the Church of St Maughold where they expressed great interest in the Church and ancient Crosses. Bro J. Craine, Organist, played the Hallelujah Chorus and the National Anthem.