Quatuor Coronati’s Transactions are known as Ars Quatuor Coronaturum or ‘AQC’
Published annually since 1886, Ars Quatuor Coronaturum is the longest continuously running Masonic Research Journal in the world. Collectively, AQC’s volumes form a repository of Masonic history and research, and are regarded as one of the most important sources available. A list of past articles can be found here.
The Transactions is required reading for anyone interested in Masonic history or considering researching an article for presentation and/or publication. In addition to research papers and articles, AQC includes reviews of the latest books on the history of Freemasonry and details the contents of other Masonic journals.
Soft copies of some of the earlier editions are included on this web site. Others, not available in soft copy are kept in the library. Go to the index list to obtain details of the contents of most of the AQC publications and to the library index to locate the hard copies
The reason for starting the Pentagram by The District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago was set out in a summary in the first Pentagram on 24 June 1909 as follows and mostly applies today:
"In making its modest bow to the members of the Craft in the Eastern Archipelago, the Pentagram desires to offer what justification it can for existence. The absence of any literary bond between the five hundred or more Freemasons in the District is felt most keenly when visiting another Lodge. We know that we are welcome, we always enjoy our visits and we go away with a keen determination to keep more in touch with our Fellows in the Light. The feeling lasts for a time, but it has to be nourished since the frequent changes in this part of the world soon sever the pleasant ties of companionship....the Lodges live too much to themselves, and one object of the Pentagram will be to bring them more closely in touch.
A second and important function of the Pentagram will be to provide for all the means of making at least a periodical advancement in Masonic knowledge...
As a record of Freemasonry in the District, the Pentagram will endeavour to do something"
The Pentagram has evolved over the years and currently focuses more on District activities. The masonic papers tend to be published by the two Research Lodges in the District.
Soft copies of many of the Pentagrams are included on the web site. Hard copies are contained in the library and can be found in the library index on this web site.
The HISTORY OF THE Pentagram
It takes many readings to appreciate just how good the first few editions of the Pentagram are.
Walter Makepeace retired to England in 1924, and remained proud of the series of quarterly Pentagrams for 1909-12. He had a set of them bound and presented to his new lodge in Bristol. In a letter to the Pentagram in 1935, Makepeace confirms that he, H C E Zacharias and William Craig were the initial team.
Walter Makepeace was continually appealing for copy to edit, and P J Sproule of Prince of Wales Lodge helped by reporting on activities up north. P J Sproule was initiated in Royal Prince of Wales but took the chair in St George and then returned to Penang in the course of his legal work. Sproule also wrote poetry and had once worked part time as a journalist, by permission, to pay off his wife’s passage.
Zacharias submitted book reviews under his pseudonym Z3 but left the District around 1912. Craig went on leave at the same time causing Walter Makepeace to compose the following doggerel for the 10 October 1912 issue:
The Pentagram is late this time and miserably thin;
The copy always going out and little coming in;
The burden of its issue should rest on shoulders three
One’s away in England, one’s off, the other’s we.
Makepeace’s plea was heard and, in the next issue, he was able to say
"Many have interpreted the doggerel at the end of the last Pentagram in a true brotherly spirit, which is not just to say Lord, Lord! For many contributions on Masonic subjects that form a useful reserve of copy for the future, the editors are grateful".
At the jubilee meeting of the District on 20 May 1909, the Board of General Purposes had recorded its appreciation to H C E Zacharias of Read Lodge for two memoranda he prepared to assist them in both the jubilee celebrations and the publication of the Masonic Journal - the Pentagram. Zacharias was a senior Mason but his name disappears abruptly from district records in 1912 and nothing further is heard from him.
The Library Committee and The Pentagram
In 1909, the first issue of the Pentagram was published under the auspices of the Library Committee of the District Grand Lodge, assisted by the Records Committee of Lodge St Michael. Before 1909, Lodge St Michael’s lectures were published as Proceedings in the manner of Quatuor Coronati Lodge. None of Lodge St Michael Proceedings survive in the Coleman Street library, but Worshipful Brothers Herring and Seale had access to them in Great Queen Street.
At the district meeting on 20 May 1909, the Report of Claud Severn, president of the Board of General Purposes, announced the advent of the Pentagram.
The second matter of importance that came before the Board was a proposal to start a Masonic journal in the District. It was decided that the journal should be called the Pentagram and that it should be published under the auspices of the Library Committee, who were authorised to draw on district funds up to $500 towards the cost of producing it for one year.
Things moved quickly. The Pentagram made its first appearance on 24 June 1909. Under a heading OURSELVES, Makepeace explained the reasons for its existence.
In making its modest bow to members of the Craft in the Eastern Archipelago, The Pentagram desires to offer what justification it can for its existence. The absence of any literary bond between the five hundred or so freemasons in the District is felt most keenly when visiting another lodge. We know we are welcome, we always enjoy our visits, and we go away with a keen determination to keep more in touch with our Fellows in the Light. The feeling lasts for a time, but it has to be nourished, since the frequent changes in this part of the world soon sever the pleasant ties of companionship. Not only is it difficult to remember the names of officers away from ones own town, but the moveable nature of many of the lodge meetings creates an uncertainty as to the date and hour. The lodges live too much to themselves, and one object of the Pentagram will be to bring them more closely in touch.
A second and important function of the Pentagram will be to provide a means of making at least a periodical advancement in Masonic knowledge. Papers read before Lodge St Michael, summaries of other Masonic papers, and reviews of Masonic and other books will be published, as will special notes or papers on interesting points of jurisprudence, etiquette, history, benevolence and procedure.
One of the most pitiable defects of the Craft in the east is the difficulty that the young freemason has in making a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge. He is too often literally starved in spite of the goodwill and efforts of his lodge officers to feed him. The Pentagram hopes to some extent to supply the deficiency.
As a record of freemasonry in the District, the Pentagram will endeavour to do something. The minutes of the District Grand Lodge and their appendices are of interest to every master mason.
And when we have achieved, if it be our wish, a speedy return to our native land, the Pentagram should be a source of tender memories of happy hours and pleasant comrades, with whom we worked in the ardour of youth, and who made life more worth living.
The Pentagram is of no particular lodge, or place, and has no private interest to serve. The Editors will take responsibility for selecting the matter, in the full confidence that every reader will credit them with the honest intention of desiring to bring together the members of the Craft, and thus to further the interests of the grand institution to which we belong.
Of this first issue of the Pentagram what is believed to be a sufficient number will be sent to every lodge secretary in the District. We ask that they might be sent out to every subscribing brother, if conveniently possible, with the next agenda. No individual payment is called for (except for the small matter of extra copies). The Pentagram is not a commercial speculation. We should like to see it as free and as much the equipment of every freemason as the Book of Constitutions and the annual balance sheet of his mother lodge.
Secretaries of lodges in out-stations are asked to be good enough to send to the Pentagram a list of new officers after every installation, as well as brief notes of any doings of the lodge that may properly be published. This applies also to Chapters and to Mark lodges.
The Pentagram - the first five issues
Five issues were published during the first year, which was a considerable achievement as Severn reported to the district meeting on 25 May 1910:
It was decided to continue the publication of the Pentagram on the same lines as before. The Pentagram has now completed one year of existence, five numbers have been published, and I am sure that the brethren throughout the District will agree with me that they owe a debt of gratitude to the Library Committee for the excellent way in which the paper has been conducted.
The Editors continued to publish five issues each year, and they obtained the necessary news from lodges to present a comprehensive and interesting view of freemasonry at that time.
The Pentagram was much appreciated by Kinta Lodge, which was enjoying strong growth at that time.
The appearance of a Masonic periodical has given general satisfaction to the Kinta brethren, and praise and good wishes for the promoters are heard on all sides.
The first number has been well received by all masons in the District, and they look forward with pleasure to the next issue. The only regret is that the publication is not monthly.
In the issue of 24 June 1912, the editor emphasises the need for reports to be sent in so that future historians will be able to hunt through the back numbers and make up lodge histories.
The number of contributors up to the present can certainly be counted on the fingers of two hands, and the bulk of the matter comes from two or three pens.
In the Pentagram 1923-24 we learn that some papers given to Lodge St Michael were printed in pamphlet form. The district grand secretary appealed for copies as he wished to reprint. It seems probable that these pamphlets are now lost. The lesson is that only the Pentagram with copies lodged in the Grand Lodge Library in London has survived as the reliable guardian of the history of freemasonry in the Eastern Archipelago, and as the only means of easily accessed information for lodge histories.
The Tyler-Keystone, a Kentucky publication described the Pentagram as a good paper and must prove of real value to the Craft in the jurisdiction.
A Ceylon Paper reported the Pentagram is an excellent publication and Ceylon has yet to equal it.
Walter Makepeace was soon able to record that
The friendly reception accorded to the Pentagram within and without the District is encouraging. We are now exchanging with Durham Provincial Grand Lodge, and the Master and Past Masters of Lodge No 130 of Christchurch, New Zealand. The master of this lodge has sent us leaflets. In the first of these the aim is said to be binding together into one effective whole, those members of lodges in the Province and elsewhere who cherish and promote the ideal of educating the Craft in its own attractive historic antecedents.
The highs and lows during 90 years of publication
Recovery of many issues of the Pentagram from Grand Lodge Library, after the Japanese occupation, has enabled the District to trace much of its history, but there are many voids.
The quality of the Pentagram and the regularity of its publication have proved uneven. The initial five issues each year reduced to one in 1920, and some years were missed.
The 1930s were good years for the Pentagram, and many lodges contributed papers. A shortage of candidates led masters to arrange talks in their lodges. R A Dix, the editor in the 1930s, encouraged submission of these informal papers and many were printed in the Pentagram. The Pentagram was still being circulated free in the 1930s.
The immediate post war issues are important in recording the conditions of captivity, and the industry of the brethren in rebuilding the District.
The 1959 issue was a history of the District compiled by A W Frisby.
Only eight issues have appeared in the last forty years.
The absence of the Pentagram will make a current history of the District difficult to update as the records are scattered. Every attempt must be made for the 150th anniversary in 2008. Success will depend on individual lodges searching their records and providing highlights since 1954.
 See Papers 1 and 4 respectively for Craig’s historical and Zacharias’ philosophical contributions
The Pentagram is now published every two years and is essentially an update of matters in the District and personalities in the District. Papers read at Lodge St Michael are no longer published in the Pentagram.