Antique 19th Century Freemasonry Wooden Masoniac Lodge Black Ball Ballot Box For Sale
Antique Voting Ballot Box Freemasonry Masonic Lodge c.19th Century Blackball
This listing features an antique voting/ballot box used in Masonic ceremonies, the source of the term “blackballing”. This may have been made in the late 19thcentury (we saw a similar one in a newspaper… not the exact same one). It has definite wear. Measures 9 1/8"x 6 1/8"by 3 3/4" Tall. Fully Operational
This very rare wooden ballot box was/is used by a variety of fraternal organizations to vote on the acceptance of new members or other agenda items where a person’s vote could be kept secret.
“Blackball” balloting dates back to the 17th century. It was, and perhaps still is today, a system used mainly in fraternal organizations and clubs where the perpetuation of unanimity is essential to the well being of the organization. It is important that all members have the right to vote but it is equally important that partisan divisions do not disrupt the unity of the group. In this case the box is unmarked so we cannot know what organization used it. This box has two sections, one that is open and one that is covered with a sliding lid. The process that was used for a vote would have one of the members pass around the ballot box-thus the handle. The white marbles and some black marbles would be in the open section of the box. When the box reached a member who was to vote, they would reach in and pick either a white (indicating a yes vote) or a black marble (indicating a no vote) and then place the marble in the hole. In the case of this very unique box there is a hand carved half round cup that catches the marble and also shields the color of the marble from the prying eyes of others. The voters hand would shield the color of the marble from the top. The collected marbles would be kept in the box under the lid until the vote was finished at which time the moderator would open the lid and separate the white (yes) from the black marbles (no) and determine the outcome of the vote. In many fraternal organizations the vote for membership had to be unanimous, therefore potential members dreaded the “black ball” being cast on their vote for acceptance into membership. This is where the term “black balled” originated and is a slang term for rejection even today. Slang statements like this are made when a decision has been against someone or something “They black balled me, I didn’t have a chance.”These ballot boxes don’t come on the market very often but when they do they are usually not in as good condition as this one is. This particular box has excellent workmanship as you can see with the hand carved round cup attached to the hole for the marbles. The handle is attached to the box with a wooden device. Both of these unique elements make this boxvery rare. A great piece of Vintage Americana for anyone interested in or ever associated with a fraternal organization such as the Odd Fellows, Masons, Elks, etc. A great conversational piece and a great addition to any serious collector of vintage Americana.
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