Friday, November 14, 2014

Fraternal Shaving Mugs: Independent Order of Odd Fellows


The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is one of the oldest and largest fraternal organizations in the world. It is one of the most common types of fraternal shaving mugs. There are a great variety of Odd Fellows mugs representing the many different walks of life that make up their membership.  The common characteristic of all of them are the Three Links logo, usually (but not always) with the letters F., L. and T., standing for Friendship, Love and Truth, in the center. Other common design elements are taken from the more esoteric aspects of the Odd Fellows: the all-seeing eye, the ceremonial tent and crossed swords or staves.

In Fraternally Yours by Bernie Lucko, he speculates that "the origin of the name Odd Fellows dates to 55 A.D. Soldiers of the Jewish legion of the Roman Army, during the reign of Nero, were known for their singular camaraderie and an uncanny ability to recognize each other by signs after night. Titus  Caesar  called  them  Odd Fellows." However, official Odd Fellow sources claim that "the altruistic and friendly society came to be known as "Odd Fellows" because it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind." Personally, I like Bernie's origin better. There is a certain mysteriousness to it. The official version sounds a bit apocryphal, however nobel its intentions.

Above is a short video about the Odd Fellows, produced by the Odd Fellows. I found it informative and entertaining for the most part. There are several instances that I would take with a grain of salt. But there is no denying that the Odd Fellows have done good things for a great number of people and communities.

Rare Double Fraternal - IOOF and IORM

Rare Double Fraternal - IOOF and IORM

Rare Double Fraternal - IOOF and IORM

From the Sovereign Grand Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows:

"In 17th Century England, people were facing a lot of challenges. Life was tough, often lawless and desperate. Medicine was still crude and in a primitive stage. Life expectancy was about 45 to 50. There were lots of sickness, orphaned kids, widowed mothers and many people cannot afford to pay a decent burial for the dead.  
So, ordinary people from different trades and walks of life found it necessary to group together as brothers and sisters and contribute some of their hard-earned wages to a common fund which they could use for unfortunate times such as sickness, losing a job and even death. They would work together to help each other and the unfortunate families back on their feet, whether it was rebuilding a barn that had burned or putting in a new crop after a devastating season. 
Such altruistic and friendly society came to be known as "Odd Fellows" because it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind. It was believed that they were "an odd bunch of fellows" who would behave in such a selfless and seemingly impractical fashion. Odd Fellows are also known as "The Three Link Fraternity" which stands for Friendship, Love and Truth.  
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows was founded on the North American Continent in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 26, 1819 when Thomas Wildey and four members of the Order from England instituted Washington Lodge No. 1. This lodge received its charter from Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows in England. At that time, the city was suffering both a yellow fever epidemic and mass unemployment so they dedicated the organization to "Visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphans." 
Odd Fellowship became the 1st national fraternity to include both men and women when it adopted the beautiful Rebekah Degree on September 20, 1851. This degree is based on the teachings found in the Holy Bible, and was written by the Honorable Schuyler Colfax who was Vice President of the United States during the period 1868-1873. Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were also the first fraternal organization to establish homes for our senior members and for orphaned children.  
Today, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs continue to exist with nearly 10,000 lodges in approximately 26 countries consisting of men and women who united together for mutual aid and conviviality, providing social and practical support for each other and their communities in every way possible. Even though we have come a long way now, there are still more needs to be done. Working together to achieve these goals and help our fellow men creates a bond that cannot be described – a brotherhood and sisterhood of benevolence that can only be felt as an active participant. Working together, we can really help make a difference!"

From Fraternally Yours by Bernie Lucko:

"In 1745, less than three decades after the founding of the Masonic Order in England, the Ancient and Honorable, Loyal Odd Fellows Was organized in Oakly Arms, Great Britain. It was not until April 26, 1819 in Baltimore, Md., that the society was established in the United States as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF). 
They met in Seven Star Tavern until their boisterousness forced them to meet in another place. The IOOF has three initiatory degrees: Friendship, Brotherly Love and Truth. The letters F-L-T are frequently found on IOOF mugs. In 1915 the Odd Fellow Review  claimed  3,418,833  members, gathered largely, though not wholly, from the wage-earning class. 
The official story of the origin of the name Odd Fellows dates to 55 A.D. Soldiers of the Jewish legion of the Roman Army, during the reign of Nero, were known for their singular camaraderie and an uncanny ability to recognize each other by signs after night. Titus  Caesar  called  them  Odd Fellows. It is further reported that Agricola, one of Titus Caesars generals, invaded Wales, spreading these Odd Fellows from Rome to Great Britain. 
Since Freemasons could go on to higher degrees, this pressure lead to the founding of the Encampment Lodge within the IOOF. So, beginning in 1885, there were three additional degrees added: Patriarchal, Golden Rule and Royal Purple. The lodge also bestows a higher honorary degree, the Grand Decoration  of Chivalry, which corresponds to the Masonic 33rd degree. In the past, the IOOF placed considerable emphasis on sickness and death benefits although the lodge has never provided insurance for its members. 
Throughout  the  rituals of many fraternal organizations there was a theme of light and darkness. One of the variations of this symbolic allusion is used by the IOOF as each candidate is received as a man in darkness and in chains. The three-link chain has been adopted as a symbol of unity, brotherhood and good Will. The all-seeing eye is also a symbol associated with several fraternal orders. It has religious significance, symbolizing in all instances a watchfulness over our actions. 
IOOF shaving mugs come in great variations depending on the degrees and rank of members. Every mug, however, has, at a minimum, the three link chain."

Regarding the name the origin of the name, Odd Fellows, there is this on Wikipedia:

Several theories aim to explain the meaning of the name "Odd Fellows". 
One says that they were called "odd" because in the beginning of Odd Fellowship in the 18th century, at the time of industrialization, it was rather odd to find people who followed noble values such as benevolence, charity and fraternalism. 
A variation on that theory states: "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." 
Another theory states that Odd Fellows were people who engaged in miscellaneous or "odd" trades. In the 18th century, major trades were organized in guilds or other forms of syndicate, but smaller trades did not have any social or financial security. For that reason, people who exercised unusual trades joined together to form a larger group of "odd" fellows. 
A slightly different version of this second theory states: "By the 13th century, the tradesmen's Guilds had become established and prosperous. During the 14th Century, with the growth of trade, the guild 'Masters' moved to protect their power (and wealth) by restricting access to the Guilds. In response, the less experienced (and less wealthy) 'Fellows' set up their own rival Guilds. In smaller towns and villages, there weren't enough Fellows from the same trade to set up a local Guild, so Fellows from a number of trades banded together to form a local Guild of Fellows from an odd assortment of trades. Hence, Guilds of Odd Fellows."

History of the Odd Fellowship in The Three Link Fraternity - Odd Fellowship in California by Don R. Smith and Wayne Roberts:

"Although some books claim to trace Odd Fellowship back to Roman times when members of the Roman Legions in England were called "Fellow Citizens", what is said to be the earliest printed record of an Odd Fellows Lodge appears in a reference to a lodge meeting at a Globe Tavern in England, in 1748. This lodge was numbered nine, so apparently there were at least nine associated Odd Fellows lodges at that time. 
Other evidence suggests that our origins were in an organization known as the Ancient Order of Bucks which thrived in England in the 18th Century, and had as its emblem three bucks with their antlers intertwined. These men had as their leader a "Most Noble Grand" and met in club rooms and taverns. One of their principal emblems was "a bundle of sticks," familiar to modern Odd Fellows as signifying strength in union. They dropped "Bucks" from the name in 1802. Whatever the origin, solid evidence begins to be found in the late 18th Century. By 1796 Odd Fellow organizations were numerous in England, and each was independent from the others. Fraternal groups such as the Odd Fellows were suppressed in England for a time, but by 1803 the Odd Fellows were revived by an organization called "London Union Odd Fellows," which later became known as the "Grand Lodge of England" and assumed authority over all Odd Fellow lodges in that country. 
Victory Lodge in Manchester declared itself independent of the Grand Lodge of England in 1809. In 1814, the six Odd Fellows lodges in the Manchester area met and formed The Manchester Unity of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which elected officers and proceeded to standardize degree work of the lodges." [...]
"Among the first records of the Order in America is that of five Brothers of the English Order who met in New York City in 1806, and formed Shakespeare Lodge No. 1.
The founders were three boat builders, a comedian and a vocalist - a group befitting the name "Odd Fellows," indeed. The lodge was self instituted, a common practice in those times.  Their first candidate was a retired actor who was the keeper of the tavern where they met. Accounts state that lodge meetings were accompanied by merry making and mirth, and that the wares of the tavern were freely indulged in. This lodge was dissolved in 1813 due to poor attendance brought on by controversy over the War of 1812.

Another lodge of which little is known existed briefly in New York in 1816. In 1818, Shakespeare Lodge in New York was re-instituted, in the Red Cow tavern, operated by a former member who had in his keeping the books and papers of the former lodge. They claimed to have received a charter from the Manchester Unity which gave them authority over all other Odd Fellows Lodges in the United States, but this authority was not accepted by other lodges. Several more lodges were founded in the New York City area, and one in Philadelphia, due to the efforts of the Brothers of Shakespeare Lodge.

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows as we know it today began in Baltimore, Maryland, where five members of the Order from England founded Washington Lodge No. 1 on April 26,1819, by self-institution. One of these Brothers was Thomas Wildey, the first Noble Grand and the man revered as the founder of Odd Fellowship in North America. A charter was received from Duke of York Lodge in Preston, England, in 1820, a year and a half after its self-institution."

The Old Odd Fellows Building in Bellingham, WA

The Odd Fellows Building in Edison, WA