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Gilbert Imlay

A Surprisingly Popular Print!

84_28t1 One of my favorite tasks as Curator of Collections is answering inquiries from the public.  I’ve been surprised by the number of questions I receive about an 1884 print titled “Rock of Odd Fellowship,” which appears in the Treasures section of the National Heritage Museum website.  The lithograph shows many of the common symbols associated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows fraternity, along with portraits of two of its leaders and scenes of members pursuing the group’s charitable activities: educating orphans, visiting the sick and burying the dead.  The group is still active today.  Most of the inquirers are looking for information about the print’s history, and are curious about its value.  While museum policies prohibit me from commenting on the value of objects, I have investigated the history of this print, and have decoded some of the symbols and images it shows.

Originally founded in England in 1745, the American branch of the Odd Fellows was organized in Baltimore in 1819 by Thomas Wildey (1782-1861), who is pictured on the print at bottom center, as well as on a separate engraving seen here.  Born in England and apprenticed as a coach-spring maker, Wildey later worked as a coachmaker and came to the United States in 1817.  The other man shown in the center of the print is James L. Ridgely (1807-1881).  Ridgely was a lawyer in Baltimore who joined an Odd Fellows lodge there in 1829.  He was Grand Secretary for the group from 1841 until his death, as well as an author of some of its rituals. 79_35_2di1_cropped_3

By 1907, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows had almost one million members.  All members contributed to a fund that was used to assist sick and distressed members, as well as their widows and orphans.  In 1851, the group’s female auxiliary, the Daughters of Rebekah, was founded.  Like Freemasons, Odd Fellows must profess a belief in the existence of a Supreme Being.  You may recognize some of the symbols that appear on the “Rock of Odd Fellowship” print: the all-seeing eye that reminds members that the omniscience of God pierces into every secret of the heart; the heart and hand signifying that work should be performed from the heart; three pillars representing faith, hope, and charity; and the three-link chain, symbolizing the chain by which members are bound together in Friendship, Love and Truth.

The print was published in Boston in 1884 by T.C. Fielding (who was a Past Grand, or head, of the Odd Fellows in Massachusetts) and the lithographer was Frederick T. Stuart (1837-1913).  I’ve been trying to learn more about these two men and to understand why the print was produced at that time.  1884 was the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the United States, so this print may have been part of the celebration of that anniversary, but I haven’t found conclusive evidence.  So I ask you – do you have information about Stuart or Fielding?  Do you know why this print was published in 1884?  Have you come across one of these prints in your own life?

Rock of Odd Fellowship, 1884, F.T. Stuart, artist and T.C. Fielding, publisher, Boston, Massachusetts, National Heritage Museum, gift of Mrs. Harold F. Price, 84.28.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Thomas Wildey (1782-1861), 1843, John Sartain (1808-1897), engraver, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, National Heritage Museum, Special Acquisitions Fund, 79.35.2.


Rebecca Tebo

I have acquired one, still in the ornate 1884(?) original frame. I grabbed it at a yard sale, because I thought it was interesting. While trying to research it's history, I came across this blog. I wish I knew if it is worth more than the $10 I paid.

Aimee Newell

Hi Joan: Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I continue to be surprised at how many copies of this print still surface. Unfortunately, museum ethics prevent me from commenting on the value. For more about why this is, see our blog post: You might check with an auctioneer or antiques dealer in your area to see if they can give you an appraisal. Thanks again, Aimee Newell, Director of Collections

Joan Malloy

My copy right is not in color but it is excally like the picture Is their any value to it.

Joan Malloy

I have A copy right at my home in A frame had it since 1973 wandering if their is any value to it.

Aimee Newell

Hello Alex: Thanks for reading our blog and commenting. I am posting your comment here, in case other readers also know of copies of these prints. Our collection includes one, but not the other. I will respond to your email, as well. Thanks again for your interest in our blog. Aimee Newell, Director of Collections

Alex Kudla

I have found two other posters of interest that I was wondering if you had any information about. As mentioned, I also found these behind another poster. I am having trouble finding any background information on these specific posters. I have not been able to find these on the internet. I am including a link and would love any information you may have about them.

Aimee E Newell

Hi - Thanks so much for reading our blog and posting a comment. You make a number of excellent points. We do actively collect Masonic and fraternal items here at the museum - and I wish people would think of us before auctioning or throwing away their items. That said, we don't have finite space and are generally looking for examples of things that we don't have - but it's always worth checking with us! Fraternal groups have a long history in this country and have made (and continue to make) important contributions to our communities. Thanks again for posting a comment. Aimee Newell

Jack Crispin Cain

I am an Odd Fellow, I have seen the print before. While the print and the symbols it contains has meaning for many Odd Fellows, this in it's self does not make it valuable. It maybe that some one will take an interest and buy it at an antique store or at auction, but no one will get rich selling them.
Lots of them were printed, many thousands if not tens of thousands were made. They are so common we noticed them and are discussing them here on the web.
In another century or more these prints may become more rare and more valuable, but this is subject to the whim of a very sensitive market. One decade lodge related materials maybe in demand at auction, maybe not, more often lodge related stuff looks like it should be worth something and all too often those who found the treasures at a garazge sale or in the attic end up some cool stuff that no one wants to buy.
These lodges that have closed and someone ends up selling the stuff that goes with the lodge, I really wish that people figured out what a worthwile tool the lodges are to any community. When done right a lodge can be there side by side with schools and churches to care for the community. To respond to those in distress is one of the goals of many who make up the lodges today.

Aimee E Newell

Hello - Thanks for your comment - it never fails to amaze me how many calls and inquiries we get about this particular print. I did not realize that it had ever been published in color, but that is not surprising. I imagine that the three different versions were printed to maximize sales, so that people who wanted color could get it. I have not ever seen a color version, so I'm afraid that I don't know what other differences there might be. Perhaps someone else will see this and chime in. Aimee Newell, Director of Collectons.


I have had this print for about 15 yrs; it was hidden behind another print which I had bought for a dollar at a flea market
Just had it properly framed and was searching to find more information on it
My print is B I’ve also seen sepia and color versions of the same print

Just wondering if anyone had more information on the differences between the 3?

Aimee E Newell

Thanks for your interest in our blog. This is a very popular print - I hear from a number of people each year who have found a copy. Unfortunately, museum ethics prevent Museum staff from commenting on the value of antiques. For more about why this is, please see our previous blog post, You might check with an auctioneer or antiques dealer in your area to see if they can give you an appraisal. Thanks again, Aimee Newell.

m Paton

I have this same print that came out of an old odd fellows hall i purchased, wondering if you may know if it is valuable

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