Robert E. Peary’s Tusk

Turn of the 20th Century
Antique Artifact of Robert E Peary's Tusk.

This tusk is signed by Admiral Robert E. Peary, and may be a match to one documented as having been made into a gavel for Peary Lodge No. 997, which was presented to the Peary Lodge No. 997, Yonkers, NY, by Right Worshipful Brother A. J. Squires.

Brother Peary (b. May 5, 1856, d. February 2, 1920) was raised in Kane Lodge No. 454, NY, the “Explorers’ Lodge,” on May 5, 1896. After unsuccessful attempts, Brother Peary discovered the North Pole in 1909.

Robert Edwin Peary was born in Cresson, PA. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1877. In 1881, he joined the U.S. Navy as a civil engineer with the rank of lieutenant. In 1891, he headed an Arctic expedition for the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and made a 1,300 mile sledge journey across Greenland, during which he discovered Melville Land and Heilprin Land and established the fact that Greenland was an island. In 1902, he made an unsuccessful trip to reach the North Pole, and, trying again in 1906, he came within 200 miles of the Pole. He began his successful trip to the Pole on August 18, 1908 and reached the Pole on April 6, 1909, remaining at the Pole for 30 hours. In 1911, he was made a Rear-Admiral. (Munn Lodge No. 190, 1964)  Much of Peary’s success is due to his plan of establishing food depots along the trail which would lessen the load of the north-bound trip. He was also the first to utilize sled dogs to pull the explorers northward.

Kane Lodge No. 454, NY, hosts the spectacular Elisha Kent Kane Historical Society’s museum in the Grand Lodge of New York at 71 West 23rd Street. The museum is generally open Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Please call the Grand Lodge of New York’s Tour Office at 212-337-6602 to confirm its availability. The Tour Office gives tours of the Grand Lodge of New York’s Lodge rooms, including the Grand Hall. Don’t miss stopping in at the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York on the 14th floor!

The tusk pictured here was donated in 2003 by the widow of Right Worshipful Rinaldo Morgante, a member of Bryn Mawr Lodge No. 882, Yonkers, NY, and is part of the artifact collection of the Grand Lodge of New York.

Note: Image and research by Catherine M. Walter, Curator