ODD FELLOW SERVICE JEWELS

The Odd Fellows, at least according to one story, got its curious name from the fact that it was a lodge that opened its doors to the working class who at that time did not ordinarily belong to fraternal orders--and were thus "odd". This may or may not be true as the Odd Fellows have been around for a long time and a good many things get lost in the fog of history.  The first documented reference to an Odd Fellows lodge is in the year 1748.  The Lodge was number nine which suggests other lodges preceded them.  There may also have been predecessor organizations. It seems likely that they are nearly as old as modern (Free and Accepted) Masons.  Membership in both the Masons and Odd fellows has been common as evidenced by numerous pins showing the square and compass conjoined with the three link chain.

These service jewels have been in continuous production since 1889 when the copyright was first issued and the design has remained virtually unchanged for the last 116 years.  This likely makes them the longest continuously running series of any fraternal jewel and accounts for the ready availability of these pieces, especially the 25 year jewel.

They are awarded for years of continuous membership in the Odd Fellows and range from 25 to 75 years.  They are made in both gold fill/plate and solid 10K gold with a few pieces being made in gold plated silver.     Most 10K pieces are rose gold with yellow gold accents but they are occasionally found in solid 10K yellow gold as well.  The karat gold pieces weigh an average of 8-9 grams.  It is possible that 14K and even 18K pieces exist but this has not been verified and if they do exist, they are rare.  Many karat gold pieces are unmarked and pieces marked 14K on the chain link hanger only are suspect—14K stamping tools are readily available at any jewelry supply store.  (After-market stamping of the jewel itself would shatter the enamel.)  The karat mark on genuine pieces will be on the jewel itself or on both the jewel and hanger.  Karat marks on older pieces may be engraved rather than stamped.

The 25 year jewels are quite common in both 10K and gold plate.  In fact, they (along with recent IOOF and Rebekah Past Grand jewels,) are probably the most common karat gold fraternal jewels on the market.  Consequently, they can often be acquired for something near scrap value—sometimes less.

Pieces become increasingly less common as the years increase and this is especially true of jewels of more than 50 years.  The relative commonality of 50 year jewels (compared to 30-45 year jewels) may be the result of some lodges awarding the jewels only at the 25 and 50 year mark.  Jewels for 65, 70, and 75 years are quite scarce with the 75 year jewel being rare.  (Given an initiation age of 21, they would correspond to ages of 86, 91, and 96 for the recipient.)  Prices correspond with rarity.  Like all fraternal pieces, engraved names, lodges, and especially dates add to value.

There are numerous variations in design and color as should be evident from the examples shown here.  Some pieces feature a raised “button” in the center of the jewel with the number of years while others are flush.  Manufacturers include the M. C. Lilley Company, L. G. Balfour, and numerous others.  The large 25 year jewel bears the imprimatur of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the I.O.O.F. and while this particular jewel is in base metal, it was also available in gold.  Service jewels also exist in the form of watch fobs as in the two examples shown here.  They are considerably less common than the standard jewel.  Lapel pins are similar in design to the fob shown top right.  There is a related jewel for non-continuous membership but it is very rarely awarded.  For a comprehensive listing of IOOF and related jewels, click the link below:

http://www.ioof.org/jewels.html

The principal tenants held dear by Odd Fellows are friendship, love, and truth (FLT). The principal Odd Fellows emblem is the three links, standing for the virtues of Friendship, Love, and Truth. The duties enjoined upon Odd Fellows are to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.

Odd Fellow 50 Year Presentation Jewel

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This jewel is 1 5/8 inches wide X 2.75 inches tall made of gold and trimmed in blue enamel.  The "50" has 23 diamond chips. The globe stands out a good 1/4 inch.  Engraved on the back it says: " L. E. Aling,  Admitted Cresco Lodge #269, March 6, 1876.   Admitted Suburban Lodge 110, Feb. 19, 1910. Illinois 839." If he became a member in 1876 he was a 50-year member in 1926.  That makes this jewel 74 years old.   Its in great condition and clean.

ODD FELLOW MISCELLANEOUS PIECES

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The ribbon is fairly typical of a Member/Parade/Funeral ribbon. The ribbon is reversible on the hanger and the black side would be worn out for funerals. Most, unlike this one, would be inscribed IN MEMORIUM. The reverse of this ribbon is red. The hanger and pendant are silver plate. Such pieces are quite common and generally inexpensive.

The little silver case is perhaps the most misunderstood of fraternal pieces being commonly mis-identified as a stamp holder, cigarette paper holder, and heaven knows what all else. It is, of course, a dues receipt holder.

Traditionally, most lodges collected membership dues on a quarterly basis.  In return, the member would be given a dated receipt and the password for that quarter.  Should the member find himself in need of assistance in a strange town, the receipt and password would identify him to the lodge there as a member in good standing. The cases were meant to hang on a watch chain like a watch fob.  Wrist watches became popular for men during World War One and by the 1930’s these cases, like other watch fobs, were mostly residing in dresser drawers never to be worn again.

    

Riding the Goat is a cherished part of fraternal mythology but the Odd Fellows seem to be the only order that has ever memorialized it with a celluloid button. This little goat riding button dates from the turn of the century.  It was made and distributed by The Pettybone Mfg. Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio.  It measures 3/4 of an inch across.  It was donated to our museum by Mrs. Juanita A. Sutton, In Memory of her father (who owned and wore the button) Lloyd M. Mahr (1897-1991).

A special "Thank You" to Vicky Tesnar of Duncan, S.C. (the daughter of Mrs. Juanita A. Sutton) who was instrumental in the donation process!  Thank you Vicky!

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Above is an early daguerreotype photograph of an Odd Fellow dressed in his regalia.  Daguerreotypes are an obsolete photographic process in which a picture is made on a silver surface and developed by mercury vapor.

Above is an early cabinet card of an Odd Fellow dressed for the old Uniformed Encampment Degree  (similar to the Knights Templar).  This was Odd Fellowship's first attempt at a quasi-military degree, and it was replaced in the early 1880s by the Patriarchs Militant Degree.

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ODD FELLOWS PATRIARCHS MILITANT

AND LADY’S AUXILIARY

The collection of Patriarchs Militant/LAPM material in the above  photo on the page is a mix of PM, LAPM, and Encampment jewelry.   Odd Fellowship is structured more or less like the York Rite; the Odd Fellows Lodge is roughly parallel to the Blue Lodge, the Encampment to the Royal Arch Chapter, and the Patriarchs Militant to the Knights Templar. There are equivalent women's groups -- the Rebekah Lodge to the Odd Fellows Lodge, the Ladies Encampment Auxiliary to the Encampment, and the Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant to the PM.  

Past Chief Patriarch Grand Encampment Medal

How do you tell the difference between Encampment and PM?  Anything that has a tent, two crossed shepherds' crooks, a triangle, or the letters F.H.C. (for "Faith, Hope, Charity") belongs to the Encampment.  If it has a shepherd's crook crossed with a sword, a crown, or the Latin mottoes "Justitia Universalis" or "Pax aut Bellum," it's Patriarchs Militant; if it has a white rose, a Maltese cross, or the letters LAPM, it's LAPM.

A special "Thanks" to Brother John Michael Greer of Doric Lodge No. 92, F.& A.M., Seattle, WA; Ballard Alki Lodge No. 170, IOOF, Seattle, WA; Ballard Encampment No. 76, Seattle, WA; Canton Seattle No. 3, P.M. for assisting us with the information to build this page.

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