Please Pass the Butter! A New Acquisition
March 10, 2015
As we always like to tell people, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library actively collects not just Masonic objects and documents, but items associated with all types of American fraternal groups. Recently we purchased this butter dish, which is engraved on one side, “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 I.O.O.F.” Like many Masonic lodges and groups, other fraternities, such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge that owned this butter dish, often combined social activities, like a meal, with their meetings. This butter dish may have been part of a set of serving dishes that the lodge purchased for use at group meals. The dish was manufactured by the Wilcox Silverplate Company of Meriden, Connecticut, which was established in 1865 and merged with several other companies to become the International Silverplate Company in 1898.
Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 was founded in Abington, Massachusetts, in 1845. After meeting for almost 15 years, during which time the lodge paid out about $600 for benefits and buried one member, the lodge surrendered its charter in 1859. In 1871, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, I.O.O.F., reinstated Pilgrim Lodge No. 75. At its first meeting, three members of the old lodge joined five members from Mattakeeset Lodge No. 110 and ten new initiates to begin a new era of its existence. In 1873, the lodge purchased the town’s old high school building and fitted it up as a hall. This may be when they purchased this butter dish, although it is impossible to know without more information. Over the next ten years, members from Pilgrim Lodge went on to start Odd Fellows lodges in Rockland, Bridgewater and South Abington.
A quick search of our collections database for “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75” also turned up a World War I ID tag, or “dog tag.” Unfortunately, we do not know who the tag originally belonged to, but it is stamped with the Odd Fellows three-link chain and the words “Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 IOOF.” World War I marked the first time that Americans fought after identification tags were made mandatory in the Army Regulations of 1913. However, the serial number system was not adopted until 1918, so many World War I-era tags, like this one, do not include a number.
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Pilgrim Lodge No. 75 Butter Dish, 1871-1900, Wilcox Silverplate Company, Meriden, CT, Museum Purchase, 2014.021a-d. Photograph by David Bohl.
Independent Order of Odd Fellows World War I Dog Tag, 1917-1919, unidentified maker, United States, gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen Jr., 95.061.25.
D. Hamilton Hurd, comp., History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1884.