Jul 25, 2017
The Mark Provincial Sword of Kent, an important ceremonial sword belonging to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Kent, has been recovered from an auction house in London.
The sword was stolen from a Provincial Officer during a brazen home invasion in March 2016 while the occupants were asleep. Opportunistic thieves initially targeted the keys to two vehicles, one of which contained the sword, awaiting transportation back to its home in Whitstable.
One of the vehicles was recovered but the contents had never been located until this June when a
researcher from the Masonic Library and Museum in Norfolk spotted the sword being offered for sale at a
London based auction house specialising in the sale of antique arms, armour and militaria.
The Mark Province of Kent contacted their insurance company, who in turn reached out to Art Recovery
International (ARI), an organisation that specializes in recovering stolen and looted works of art. ARI took the case on a pro-bono basis. With the aid of the Metropolitan Police Service (Bromley Borough), an
unconditional surrender of the sword was negotiated with the dealer who had consigned the sword for
When questioned, the dealer recalled purchasing the sword at a car boot sale in Ford, West Sussex, but
neglected to retain the license plate number of the car offering the lot.
While no arrests have been made, the Mark Master Masons of Kent are very pleased to see the return of
this important piece. The Provincial Grand Master for the Kent, Archie Torrance, said: “I was delighted to
attend the London auction house on Tuesday 18 th July 2017 to recover our stolen Provincial sword. We
were all very sad when we heard it had been stolen last year as it had been part of the Provincial
equipment since 1886. From our perspective, it is an irreplaceable artefact and we are absolutely delighted that it has been found. I am most grateful to all those who played a part in its recovery but particularly to Chris Marinello of Art Recovery International for his experienced and careful handling of the recovery. It was only through his skill and determination that we have been able to take possession of the sword again and I extend my sincere thanks to him. I very much look forward to seeing the sword being used as was intended at our annual meeting in September.”
Christopher Marinello, of Art Recovery International is impressed with the speed and efficiency of the
Metropolitan Police Service in this case: “With what’s going on in the UK these days, police resources are
clearly stretched. It’s good to see officers such as PC Pattison of Bromley Borough carrying on with the
business of serving their communities in an expeditious manner.”
The ornately carved and bespoke Masonic swords are valuable among collectors and often uniquely
inscribed with their provenance. ARI is disappointed with the level of due diligence performed by the art
trade prior to selling objects in their galleries or sales rooms.
Christopher Marinello said: “A cursory internet search reveals a 2016 posting about this theft. I urge the art market to get with the program and search stolen art databases such as the non-profit Artive Database
(artive.org) before accepting works for sale. It is imperative, as well, that victims of crime report their
losses to these databases for the due diligence process to work effectively.”