Bill Hart's Order of Chanta Sutas
Gallery Talks: "Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles"

Caliphs of Bagdad

Caliphs of Bagdad CardRegular readers of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library blog may remember my previous post about the mystery of the green Caliphs of Bagdad fez (read it here and see one of the fezzes below).  I couldn't find any information about the group's history or location.  But, recently, another clue came my way.  A friend of the Museum called my attention to the membership card (pictured at left), which was offered for sale on ebay.  Imagine my surprise and delight to see that it seems to have a direct relationship to the same group as the two green fezzes now in our collection!  I was very excited to be able to add the card to our Archives collection.

I still have many questions about the Caliphs of Bagdad, but I'm pretty firmly convinced that the group was active in Pennsylvania in the early to mid-1920s.  Both of the fezzes donated to the Museum came from Pennsylvania and this card originated from Court No. 1 in New Castle, Pennsylvania.  I find it intriguing that the Caliphs may have been open to both men and women.  The card is for a James A. McKnight, but the "Chief M.C." at the bottom was a Judy Sypher.2009_022DP1

What do you think?  Does this jog anyone's memory about the Caliphs of Bagdad?  Did you know James McKnight or Judy Sypher?  Have you seen any other documents or objects associated with this group?  Leave us a comment below.

Membership Card, 1910-1950, unidentified maker, Pennsylvania, gift of Ron and Judy McKnight, 2012.

Fez, early 1900s, gift of Stanley A. McCollough, 2009.022.  Photograph by David Bohl.


Ymelda Laxton

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for your note. It is always great to learn about other fezzes out there that belonged to the Caliphs of Bagdad. We always welcome a photo of the fez and information about wore it for our files. You can email us at if you are interested.


Ymelda Laxton, Assistant Curator


I just sold my grandfathers hat on eBay that looked just like this. It’s from the new castle pa group for sure. 1920-1930 probably. I didn’t realize how rare it was. I know nothing about the Freemasons.

Aimee Newell

Hello Seth: Thanks so much for reading our blog and commenting. I'm very excited to check out this link! I'm glad that we've solved part of the mystery of our green fezzes. I hope that other readers might join in if they know more.

Aimee Newell, Director of Collections

Seth Anthony

Hi there!

My name is Seth Anthony and I'm the curator of the Virtual Museum of Fezology. I'm also a native Pennsylvanian, having grown up in the Erie area.

I have uncovered some more information for you... check out these old news clippings!

I used to have a membership to this site, but it has lapsed. Thankfully, New Castle was a small town and it appears that there are several references to the Caliph in this sites database. Please keep me updated on what you find!


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