My Dad joined Freemasonry shortly after returning from World War II. When the Lodge Gave him his apron, it came in the large paper envelope shown.
He was raised in Indiana and ordinarily the lodge would give the Entered Apprentice his apron in a more sturdy cellophane container. However cellophane and its ingredients were needed for the war effort, so they replaced that container with the one you see here. It's really flimsy and did not hold up well at all. For that reason I imagine there aren't many left in existence.
My father became a Mason under the Grand Lodge of Indiana. Prior to World War II, the Grand Lodge issued aprons in cellophane, which was more protective and durable than the paper envelope that covered my father's apron. At some point they switched over to the tubes, similar to those used today. But in-between, the Grand Lodge of Indiana, and other Grand Lodges, I suppose, handed out the aprons in the paper envelopes.
The reason, of course, was World War II. The apron containers had been made of cellophane. Cellophane looks to be a type of plastic but it isn't a petroleum-based product. Its use, therefore did not require petroleum for which the armed forces had a critical need. This made the demand for cellophane even greater, mainly for wrapping, sealing and protecting food supplies. Therefore the Grand Lodge of Indiana and probably others, had to stop wrapping aprons in cellophane.
Just to show how flimsy these things really are, here is the only other picture I could find of another one. As you can see, it's in much worse condition than my father's.
In the upper left is a small note explaining why the Brother is receiving what you might call an inferior container for his apron. It reads: .
MASONRY WILL UNDERSTAND
OUR FIGHTING MEN NEED CELLOPHANE AND ITS INGREDIENTS. FOR THAT REASON THE PROTECTION CELLOPHANE FORMERLY GAVE OUR MASONIC APRONS HAS TO BE ELIMINATED.
You will notice the so-called white stock has yellowed considerably.
In the lower right hand corner, we can see the Ihling Bros. Everard Co. of Kalamazoo, Michigan made the apron. That company still exists under the name Kalamazoo Sportswear and Regalia.
So that's it. I don't think the piece is particularly valuable but to me, of course it's priceless. Exchanging a cellophane apron holder for a paper one isn't exactly a big sacrifice but it's a good reminder of the sacrifices everyone had to make back then for the war. Food items, gasoline, rubber for tires… all were in short supply. We don't have to make those sacrifices today, so perhaps the significance of this little item is to have us remember the challenges even the people here at home had to endure in order to win that war.