This view of Strasbourg, France, set within an elaborate border, includes the arms of the Upper and Lower Alsace. There was once a large wax seal at the bottom center, no longer attached. The inscription reads:
Wir Geschwohrne Ober- und andere Meister des Ehrs. Handwercks derer Steinmetzen, Steinhauser und Maurer in der Stadt Strassburg bescheinen hiermit, das gegenwartiger Gesell Nahmens Johann Samuel Imhoft … .
A guild is an organization of men and women in a particular occupation. Guilds were first formed in the Middle Ages and craftspeople would have been unable to work without being a member of the guild. Members were bound by a code of quality and price, but could also obtain assistance from the guild, such as funeral costs. Guilds oversaw a craftsman’s progress from apprentice to master, maintained the quality and ownership of the craft. A stonemason’s “lodge” was located at the job site and was the place where masons gathered, received instruction, and stored their tools.
Until the capture of the city by France in 1681, the headquarters of the German stonemasons was in Strasbourg (even as late as 1760 the Strasbourg lodge still claimed tribute from the lodges of Germany).