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Discovering Friendly and Fraternal Societies:
Curious items of peronsal adornment such as sashes and collars made of silk or velvet aprons and medals sometimes turn up in car-boot sales or are found in an attic or a shop selling bygones. Many of these objects are decorated with arcane symbols and bear inscriptions such as 'Guardian', 'Past Arch' or, even more cryptically, 'PCR' or 'KOM'. So what are these things, who wore them and what do they mean? Although often grouped under the misleading umbrella title of 'Masonic', these objects represent a vast range of friendly and fraternal orders that provided sociability, financial security and moral leadership for their members. Ranging from nationally organised orders to tiny village savings clubs, these societies were an essential part of life for the majority of people in Britain but, with a few exceptions, they have now disappeared. In this ground-breaking and richly illustrated book Victoria Solt Dennis describes the history of these orders and enables the reader to unlock this forgotten history by identifying many of these objects. This book will be of value to family historians, curators and dealers as well as to anyone who values the rich history of the oridinary people of Britain. [via]