In 1819 a coach spring maker from London named Thomas Wildey started what became the first American Odd Fellows lodge in Baltimore. Wildey’s lodge worked under the authority of a charter from an Odd Fellows group in England. In Maryland and beyond, Odd Fellows, with promises of conviviality and support for members, soon founded more lodges. By 1831 Odd Fellows in Delaware petitioned to form a Grand Lodge for their state. Over a decade later, from 1845 to 1846, William S. Pine (ca. 1810-1892) served as the Grand Secretary of this Grand Lodge. At the time, it counted five lodges and 286 members within its jurisdiction. This colorful pitcher, decorated with transfer prints of important symbols in Odd Fellowship, bears Pine’s name, the office he held, and a copyright year, 1845.
A resident of Wilmington, Pine worked as a hatter, and was a member of Washington Lodge No. 1. Along with his name, this paneled bright white porcelain pitcher with a gold-painted rim and handle features eleven transfer prints of symbols important in Odd Fellowship. Just under the rim are prints, colored with paint, of an open Bible, a heart in hand, a beehive, crossed arrows, and a cornucopia. Below these are prints of the three links of Odd Fellowship, an all-seeing eye, and figures representing justice and charity. Another print combines symbols of the United States—an eagle and a red, white, and blue shield, with a banner bearing one of the group’s mottoes, “Friendship, Love, and Truth.” The most elaborate print is of the seal of the Odd Fellows Grand Lodge of United States (adopted in 1833), surrounded by the motto, “We command you to visit the sick relieve the distressed bury the dead and educate the orphan.”
In 1843 the branch of Odd Fellowship founded by Wildey broke with England and, from that time, the group governed itself under the name Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The symbols on this pitcher reflect the change—the prints of the eagle with the red, white, and blue shield and the copyright statement were suited to an American organization and audience.
As a mark on the bottom of the pitcher attests, Clark and Levering of Baltimore, glass and ceramics merchants, imported this vessel. The firm likely commissioned the pitcher from an English manufacturer. What Pine’s part in the commission was, and why his name is on the object is, as yet, unknown. A note in the Odd Fellows’ official proceedings shows that Pine’s association with the Odd Fellows came to an abrupt end. In 1848 his brethren expelled him from Washington Lodge No. 1, recording the reason for his ouster with the description “bad conduct.” Before he left the group, Pine had a role in the fabrication of this pitcher—an object which celebrated the values of the organization and its newly declared independence.
Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb, As Above So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930 (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2015), 31-36.
Henry C. Conrad, History of the State of Delaware, vol. 2 (Wilmington, DE: The Author, 1909), 442-445.
William Henry Ford, Symbolism of Odd-Fellowship (New Orleans, LA: Cornerstone Book Publishers, 2013, reprint of 1904 edition), 215-216.
Journal of Proceedings of the Right Worthy Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of the United States of America…, vol. 2 (Baltimore, MD: P. G. James Young, 1852) 1346.
Theo. A. Ross, Odd Fellowship: Its History and Manual (New York, NY: The M. W. Hazen Co., 1888), 42, 621.