The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently acquired a group of ceramics related to a variety of fraternal groups, including the interesting Fraternal Order Orioles. Founders established the Fraternal Order Orioles, a social and charitable organization, in Rochester, New York, in 1910. The Orioles, first named Order of Owls, was modeled after fraternal groups like the Oddfellows and Freemasons. Local Oriole groups still meet today in "subordinate nests," regional groups in “grand nests,” and the national governing group in “supreme nests.” They continue to fundraise for charitable causes and for provide benefits for members and their families.
Buffalo Pottery, an American ceramics company, made these particular Oriole steins and plate in Buffalo, New York, in 1913. The date, April 16-27, 1913 and the German words “Deutscher Jahrmarkt,” which translates to “German Fair,” are printed on all three pieces accompanied by an image of an oriole or the Buffalo Orioles hall. The name and dates suggest the wares may have been created to commemorate a German cultural fair sponsored by the Orioles in Buffalo in 1913. The Orioles were headquartered in Buffalo in the early 1900s and Buffalo Nest #1 built a hall in downtown Buffalo in 1914. The Buffalo hall is printed on one of the steins pictured below. A Ukrainian American community group purchased the building in 1955.
In 1901, the Larkin Soap Co., a Buffalo soap manufacturer, created Buffalo Pottery to produce premiums for soap products. Premium products included pottery and art wares, handkerchiefs, small lithographs, and furniture. They were included in single or bulk soap purchases made by mail order or at certain retail outlets and meant to entice customers to buy more soap products.The Larkin Soap Co. was one of the country’s largest mail-order companies in the early 1900s. Buffalo pottery created individualized commemorative wares for different organizations and civic groups in the early 1900s. Many of these wares were similar in design with the same deep blue-green edges and gold trim seen on these examples.
Buffalo pottery changed its name to Buffalo China, Inc. in 1956 and became one of the largest suppliers of commercial dinnerware through the 1960s. Oneida Limited company purchased Buffalo China in the early 1980s. The Buffalo production facility closed down in the mid-2000s. Are you or someone in your family a member of the Orioles? Do you have any items, information, or photographs related to the Orioles? Let us know in the comments below.
Seymour and Violet Altman, The Book of Buffalo Pottery (New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1969)