Pairs of Masonic columns are often marked “B” and “J” to represent the pillars known as “Boaz” and “Jachin,” which supported the entryway of King Solomon’s Temple. Such pairs are often topped with a globe—one celestial and the other terrestrial—to symbolize the universality of Freemasonry.
The columns always appear in a Masonic lodge room and are used during the first three degrees to help tell the story of the building of Solomon’s Temple. A candidate sometimes passes between the columns and learns to speak and spell their names in a particular manner that figures in the secret passwords and rite of the degrees. Over the history of Freemasonry, these columns have reflected prevailing tastes in furniture and decorative arts. This pair includes a grain-painted platform supporting the globes at the top and features gold painted shafts.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Pair of Masonic Columns," exhibition label for Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2016.