What is the difference between Operative and Speculative Freemasonry?

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A. Operative Freemasonry is the ancient art of building structures out of stone and mortar. Although Masonic folklore suggests that this branch of Masonry stretches through time all the way to the builders of King Solomon’s temple, it is difficult to prove using current historic data. More realistically, Operative Freemasons were a guild of freeborn men (not indentured, or slaves) traveling Europe overseeing the design and construction of palaces, and churches. Members of the guild were paid based on the skills they had developed. In order to prevent inexperienced or immoral people from fraudulently collecting Master Mason’s wages without performing the work of a master, secret symbols were developed that were kept private amongst all Masters of the craft. As an apprentice developed his skills, he was rewarded with new secrets, thereby allowing him to earn higher wages as he traveled from job site to job site. Speculative Masonry takes the principles and tools of Operative Masonry ... more
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