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Group of Four Carved Odd Fellows Plaques

Documentation Signed
Origin United States
Period 1900-1919
Materials Carved and polychrome painted wood. Mounted in their original deep dish frames.
W. 24 in; H. 24 in; D. 2.75 in;
W. 60.96 cm; H. 60.96 cm; D. 6.99 cm;
Condition Excellent.
Creation Date Circa 1910.
Description American. Western Pennsylvania or Ohio. Unidentified maker.

The Independent Order of the Odd Fellows (IOOF) is an international fraternal organization dedicated to charitable and altruistic acts. These four plaques are symbolic of the moral code and life goals that the lodge members espoused: The “Globe” for Universal Justice and Unity; “The Lamb” for Innocence, Purity, Faith, Hope, Charity; “The Dove” for Love and Peace; and “The Bee Hive” for Industriousness and Productivity.

Information written on the backs of these boldly carved plaques indicates that they were made by a member of the lodge. Based on the sensitive quality of the carvings, one could speculate that the maker’s trade involved wood carving. Pencil notations written on the backs also stipulate the colors to be used in painting these pieces.

While there has been uncertainty regarding the origins of the Odd Fellows, the first documented lodge evidently appeared in England during the 1700s. One old and authoritative source explained “that common laboring men should associate themselves together and form a fraternity for social unity and fellowship and for mutual help.” These goals were such a marked violation of the trends of the times that they became known as “odd fellows.” Another source indicates “In smaller towns and villages, there were too few Fellows in the same trade to form a local Guild, so Fellows from a number of trades banded together to form a local Guild of Fellows from different trades, hence becoming known as “Guilds of Odd Fellows.” The Odd Fellows spread to America in the 18th century but suffered declining membership during the Civil War; however, by 1896, the World Almanac listed the Odd Fellows as “the largest among all fraternal organizations” and by 1889, “IOOF lodges were present in every American State.”
Styles / Movements Folk Art, Traditional
Book References Pictured: Animals in American Folk Art by Wendy Lavitt, page 95.
Incollect Reference Number 140174
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