My dad is an antique collector and dealer, and whenever he finds something "Masonic" it usually winds up in my collection. A few years ago he found several "Masonic" lapel pins and dropped them by the house. I glance at them when he gave them to me, and thought they were kind of different, but they sat on my counter for a week before I really looked at them and realized they weren't Masonic at all. They were anniversary pins for membership in the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. If you can't see the similarities between the Freemasons square and compass and the crest of the Carpenter's Union, you better get to the eye doctor.
As a matter of fact, I've had a little fun with these pins. I've worn one on my lapel a couple dozen times to Masonic events. You know, not one single Mason noticed it wasn't a Masonic pin, and believe me, they would have pointed it out in a heartbeat. Not long after I became a Mason, I wore one of those antique lapel pins my dad had found--as it turns out it was a lady's pin. I got noticed for sure. Does your husband know you're here, Mrs. Creason. Bwahahahahaha! Sometimes brotherhood can be brutal.
As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery, and Freemasonry gets flattered a lot. Our square and compass logo is respected and well-known, and it gets borrowed frequently. Our symbols are ancient and mysterious to the uninitiated, and I see "Masonic looking" apparel all the time--in fact, I just picked up this sweatshirt off the clearance rack at Kohl's last weekend. A tattoo artist from Las Vegas contacted me a couple months ago. He wanted to know if there was a reference book or something of Masonic symbols, artwork, and woodcuts I could direct him to. He told me that in the last five years, his most popular designs are all based on Masonic and Knights Templar symbolism.
So don't get mad. Enjoy the priviledge of membership in the "real genuine deal." Be content knowing that you actually know what those symbols mean--that you've received light. And do like I do--when you see a cool t-shirt, hat, or sweatshirt with a "Masonic looking" design buy it and enjoy it! I must admit, some of my favorite Masonic apparel isn't Masonic at all. It's those designs that the graphic artists at Aeropostle, Old Navy, and American Eagle are tinkering with that I enjoy wearing. We have a few, but I wish we had a few more Brothers out there designing graphics like these for our younger Fraternity members--and a few older guys like me that just like anything and everything to do with the Craft.
~Todd E. Creason