Shrine

Now on View: From Head to Foot: Fraternal Regalia Illustrations

In the 1800s and 1900s selling regalia and costumes to fraternal groups became big business. Regalia companies seeking to attract customers produced richly illustrated catalogs and colorful advertising material to highlight the costumes and uniforms they manufactured. The artwork and advertising material in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s new exhibition, “From Head to Foot: Fraternal Regalia Illustrations,” were produced by the Cincinnati Regalia Company (1895-1998), of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Ihling Bros. Everard Company (1869-1995), of Kalamazoo, Michigan. These regalia makers, along with others, produced uniforms, regalia, and accessories for Masons, Shriners, Elks, and additional fraternal groups. These items can help us better understand how companies marketed and sold fraternal regalia between 1900 and 1980.

98_041_138DS1 5 of 5The number of Americans who were members of fraternal groups grew to millions by the beginning of the 1900s. Regalia companies attempted to outfit this large consumer base with everything they needed, from head to foot, as advertised in this flyer. Ihling Bros. Everard Company offered many types of Shrine regalia to appeal to two national Shrine organizations, the Ancient Arabic Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, with 87,000 members by 1904, and the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, which had established more than sixty temples across the US by the start of World War I. Shrine organizations took inspiration from traditional Middle Eastern clothing for their ritual and regalia. That taste is illustrated in this flyer by the turban, wide-leg pants, and curved-toe shoes worn by the model.

98_0003_121DS1Some of the artwork displayed in this exhibition was created to be reproduced in catalogs. This illustration, for example, appeared in an Ihling Bros. Everard Company catalog, printed around 1970, that featured costumes and accessories for the Knights Templar. This group, part of the York Rite of Freemasonry, draws inspiration from the crusading knights of medieval Europe. This model is presented in a “Pilgrim Warrior” costume, which, in addition to a pointed helmet, a sword, and a cape, included a full suit of what Ihling Bros. Everard Company called “armor cloth.” This cloth was patterned to look like scale mail, protective metal clothing worn by medieval knights and soldiers. These catalogs, printed in black and white, featured a variety of items, including hats, shoulder braid, jackets, pants, robes, tights, and shoes. Catalogs were used by fraternal groups to order uniforms and regalia for their members to wear for meetings, ritual work, parades, and other activities.

88_42_156_6DS1Some of the colorful illustrations, like the one shown here from the Cincinnati Regalia Company, were sent to customers to present color and design variations to supplement the black and white images in catalogs. Regalia companies served both women’s and men’s organizations and produced catalogs specifically designed for women’s organizations which displayed the regalia and costumes of particular orders. Because of the distinct American flag-inspired design of this costume, it was likely created for a group with a patriotic agenda, such as the Daughters of America, a Junior Order of United American Mechanics women’s auxiliary.

These attractive advertisements offer insight into the vibrant regalia industry during the 1900s. This exhibition will be on view at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library until July 26, 2024.


A Shrine Beach Parade

2001_070_6DS1 cropped smallIn this photograph from the collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, a line of men in bathing costumes and swim caps march across the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey. This unusual sight was photographed on the morning of July 13, 1904, when the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine hosted their annual meeting in the resort city.

This two-day event was the thirtieth annual gathering since the founding of the order in 1873. Thousands of Shriners and their families traveled to the Jersey shore and participated in a variety of activities and programs. According to the Annual Proceedings of the AAONMS, this session hosted 276 representatives from eighty-nine temples throughout the United States. During the meeting, the secretary of the group, called the Imperial Recorder, reported a net membership gain of 8,545 in 1904, and a total national membership of 87,727.

In addition to business meetings and evening parties, members of the AAONMS took part in an activity for which their group later became renowned–parades. The 1904 Annual Session, or meeting, opened with a parade that differed from the norm. A Shrine unit called the Arab Patrol, hailing from Moslem Temple in Detroit, Michigan, took part in a beach parade at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, July 13.

Accompanied by the first regiment band of Michigan and a bugle corps of twenty-nine men, they “marched from the Grand Atlantic Hotel in bathing suits to the beach between Young's Pier and the Steel Pier, and plunged into the ocean,” according to the Camden, New Jersey Morning Post. The front page of the local paper, the Atlantic City Daily Press, clarified that the men were dressed in “bathing suits, specially prepared for the occasion” and called the whole affair “one of the most unique and picturesque incidents of the gathering of the Shriners here.”

Camera operators of various sorts took advantage of the picturesque quality of the plunge. Alfred Camille Abadie (1878-1950) of Thomas Edison’s company Edison Films captured this beach parade on a 35mm motion picture camera. Per Edison’s September 1904 advertising circular, the 2.5-minute film showed “the entire body drilling on the beach and entering the surf” and could be purchased for $21.75.

This photo is one of two of this parade in the museum’s collection. Both are marked on the back: “Fred Hess, Photographer, 2506 Arctic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ.” Hess (1858-1932) was a commercial photographer in Atlantic City from around 1893 until his death. Hess’ home studio was located about a mile from the spot where he took the beach parade photos.

This beach parade photograph–in addition to being a surprising and captivating image–depicts the details of a unique and intriguing event. It also provides information about Atlantic City, the AAONMS, and commercial photography and cinematography in the early 1900s.

---

Further Reading:


New to the Collection: Sparkling Fraternal Style

6a00e550caa66d883402b6852a05fd200d-800wi
Menelik Court No. 53 Fez. Cincinnati Regalia Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. Museum Purchase, 2022.067.

On the last day of Black History Month, we’re taking a look at a fascinating fez from an African American women’s order with an intriguing history.

The group, known as the Imperial Court, is an auxiliary to the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Members of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. The A.E.A.O.N.M.S., founded in 1893, is dedicated to the welfare and extension of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Its women’s auxiliary was founded in 1910 in Detroit, Michigan. The Imperial Court boasts more than nine thousand members in more than two hundred courts throughout the United States, as well as Canada, Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Korea, and Western Europe. According to the Imperial Court website, the group “recognizes and celebrates the historic and current achievement of African American women . . .”

Members are known as Daughters and their regalia includes ceremonial collars worn with white dresses, shoes, and gloves, along with white fezzes or crowns. A Daughter serving as the Court’s current Imperial Commandress, its highest office, wears a crown in lieu of a fez. Members’ fezzes bear the name and number of the owner’s court and a stylized profile view of the Egyptian goddess Isis. If the Daughter served as an Illustrious Commandress, her fez will bear the title Past Illustrious Commandress.

This fez was once owned by a member of Menelik Court No. 53, in Oakland, California. This court was founded in 1922, only a dozen years after the national organization was established. The court celebrated its centennial last year. According to the desert-inspired terminology used by Shrine groups, Menelik Court is in the “Oasis of Oakland” in the “Desert of California.”

The fez is made of white wool decorated with embroidery, multi-colored rhinestones, and a tassel. Many fezzes from the Imperial Court were similarly ornamented. In addition to the designs on the front, this fez has rhinestone-studded tassel holders on the side to keep its long black tassel in place. With this volume of rhinestones, ceremonial parades featuring Imperial Court Daughters had a certain sparkle to them. You can visit the links below for images of the group, including a photograph from the 1950s where five Menelik Court Daughters in their fezzes are shown being driven in a parade in Oakland. Their driver wears the fez of Menelik Temple No. 36, Menelik Court’s corresponding A.E.A.O.N.M.S chapter.

The fezzes worn by Imperial Court Daughters, A.E.A.O.N.M.S. Nobles, and other fraternal members came from regalia supply companies located all over the United States. The Menelik Court fez in our collection bears a tag on the inside that reads: "Styled By Cincinnati Regalia, 113 W. Fourth St. 4th FL, Cincinnati, OH 45202.” The Cincinnati Regalia Company (1895 - 1998) supplied costumes, accessories, and ritual items to Masonic and other fraternal groups, as well as uniforms and equipment to municipal and voluntary organizations.

This regalia maker was located at a number of different addresses along Fourth Street during its century of operations. The January 5, 1986 Cincinnati Enquirer ran an ad for an auction of “odds & ends from Cincinnati Regalia Co. relocating from 139 W. 4th Street to 113 W. 4th Street.” When the company folded in 1998, its final address was 113 W. 4th Street, so it appears the company was located at that address from 1986-1998. This information from the tag helps date our fez to within those dozen years.

This stylish item helps the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library tell a story of local African American organizations and national regalia supply companies. If you’d like to learn more about the Imperial Court, visit a post we published about a photograph of Daughters from Philadelphia. For more on this fez and the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s African American fraternal material, you can dig into a recent article in The Northern Light.

---

Further Reading:


New to the Collection: Pyramid Court Daughters

2022_008_4DS
Members of Pyramid Court No. 17, 1960s. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 2022.008.4.

In this photograph, new to the collection in 2022, a group of women wearing white dresses and either white fezzes or a crown poses for a photo with a man in a suit wearing a darker fez. This image features members of a women’s auxiliary group of Prince Hall Shriners, the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles Mystic Shrine of North and South America and Its Jurisdictions, Inc. in Philadelphia in the 1960s. Historically Black fraternal groups in the United States have a fascinating history and objects like this photograph help us better understand it.

Based on organization proceedings and area newspapers, this photo appears to show members of Pyramid Court No. 17, Imperial Court Auxiliary, A.E.A.O.N.M.S., Philadelphia along with one member of Pyramid Temple No. 1, A.E.A.O.N.M.S., also of Philadelphia. The A.E.A.O.N.M.S. was founded in 1893 in Chicago as a charitable, benevolent, fraternal, and social organization, dedicated to the welfare and extension of Prince Hall Freemasonry. Its women’s auxiliary was founded in 1910 in Detroit. The latter group was established at the behest of a committee headed by Hannah Brown, Esther Wilson, and Lucy Blackburn, wives of Prince Hall Shriners from Maryland, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. These women and others had already created eight “courts” (similar to Shrine Temples or Masonic lodges) for female relatives of A.E.A.O.N.M.S. members. In 1909, they requested an official “Grand Court” to oversee the activities of the local groups.

This international organization, then known as the Imperial Grand Court of the Daughters of Isis, is now called the Imperial Court. The organization boasts more than nine thousand members that meet in more than two hundred courts throughout the United States, as well as Canada, Bahamas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Korea and Western Europe. Members are known as Daughters.

Their regalia includes ceremonial collars worn with white dresses, shoes, and gloves, along with white fezzes or crowns. Decorated with embroidery and/or rhinestones, these fezzes bear the name of the owner’s court and a profile of the Egyptian goddess Isis. When a Daughter serves as Imperial Commandress, the presiding officer of a court, she wears a crown in place of a fez. In this photograph, since a woman in the center of the group wears a crown, she was likely the Imperial Commandress of Pyramid Court No. 17 when the photo was taken.

In their analysis of African American fraternal groups over a period of around one hundred fifty years, social scientists Theda Skocpol and Jennifer Lynn Oser found that “black women played an unusually strong role in African American fraternal federations.” The Imperial Court is an excellent example of Black women leading fraternal groups. It exists because women who were already organizing local courts applied for official recognition from A.E.A.O.N.M.S. The auxiliary’s schedule of meetings, fundraising events, and annual sessions is very similar to that of the brother organization.

In the past and today, the women’s and men’s groups under the umbrella of the A.E.A.O.N.M.S. gather together at an annual joint session. Daughters of the Imperial Court Auxiliary and Nobles of A.E.A.O.N.M.S. work together at all levels to accomplish the charitable, social, and Masonic goals of Prince Hall Shriners.

If you know of or have any materials related to the A.E.A.O.N.M.S. or its women’s auxiliary, please let us know by writing in the comments section below.

---

References and Further Reading:


New to the Collection: DeMolay Patrol and Band Photos

2021_016DS1

DeMolay Patrol Group, 1920-1931. Museum Purchase, 2021.016.

Here at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library we recently acquired several black and white photographs dating to the 1920s of Order of DeMolay patrol and band members. The order, a young men’s organization, was founded in 1919 by Frank S. Land (and is known today as DeMolay International). These images came into the collection with very little identifying information. They are intriguing not only because they depict DeMolay members from the some of the earliest years of the organization’s history, but also because they show a style of regalia that stands out in the context of the rest of our DeMolay-related collections. We set out to try to learn more about them.

A bit of initial detective work with our trusty magnifying glass helped us situate these images in place and time. In both images, the DeMolay emblem on the uniforms the members wear can be seen under magnification to be the one that the group’s founder, “Dad” Land, designed in 1920 and which the order used for the next 11 years. Beyond this, with the word “Oakland” emblazoned on the collar of the patrol members’ shirts (image at top), and “Hollywood” on the fez of the trumpet player (image below), it seems likely that these were members of California DeMolay’s Oakland and Hollywood Chapters.

As for the style of the costumes in these pictures, we have a number of helpful clues regarding their history. Land served for a time as Imperial Potentate of the Shrine, a group whose regalia and symbols were inspired by Middle Eastern designs; these uniforms likely reflect his involvement with this group, and the group's support of DeMolay. Further, a 1920s catalog from The C. E. Ward Co., a regalia maker in Ohio that was among a handful of manufacturers licensed to sell DeMolay supplies, shows a DeMolay fez for sale with the note that it was intended “for Patrols and Bands.”

2022_007_2DS1DeMolay Club Band Member, 1920-1931. Museum Purchase, 2022.007.2.

The phase of DeMolays in Middle Eastern-style garb appears to have been short-lived, however. In the Nebraska DeMolay 75th Anniversary booklet, a 1931 photo of the Lincoln Chapter’s marching band, some 40-odd members strong, shows members by and large in military-inspired clothing. The caption below it states, “Note the three members wearing Fezzes… that was yesterday.”

Regardless of the style of dress they wore, DeMolay bands and patrol groups remained popular within the organization for decades, providing entertainment at gatherings of all kinds and helping members build skills. These striking photos make for valuable additions to our collection of DeMolay objects documenting the group’s history.

If you have any objects or information that shed light on the regalia of DeMolay’s bands and patrol groups, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch in the comments section below!

 

Sources:

Land, Frank S. DeMolay Handbook. U.S.A.: The International Supreme Council Order of DeMolay, 1959.

Nebraska DeMolay Diamond Jubilee 1920-1995: A boy is the only thing God can use to make a man. Nebraska Masonic Youth Foundation, 1995.

“Where DeMolays Bought Jewelry and Regalia,” DeMolay International website, accessed Aug. 9, 2022. https://demolay.org/where-demolays-bought-jewelry-and-regalia/

“The Death of Frank S. Land,” DeMolay International website, accessed Aug. 15, 2022.  https://demolay.org/the-death-of-frank-s-land/

Special thanks to Christian Moore at DeMolay International for his research assistance on this post.


New to the Collection: Native American Shriner Blankets

2018_001DP1DB
Blanket with Shrine Symbol, 1921. Pendleton Woolen Mills, Pendleton, Oregon. Museum Purchase, 2018.001. Photograph by David Bohl.

In 2018, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library added to its collection two 1920s wool blankets with Native American-inspired patterns and Shriner emblems as their featured central design. One of these, pictured at left (and the reverse, below), was manufactured by Oregon’s Pendleton Woolen Mills. It bears a label reading “Copyright 1921.” At that time, in fact, blankets of this style enjoyed popularity in American culture.

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s—ending right around the Great Crash of 1929—a vogue for Native American goods held sway in the U.S., for art collectors and fashionable types all the way down to Americans of more modest means. Popular magazines touted domestic displays that ranged from just a few items, to entire rooms arrayed with Native American baskets, bowls, and blankets. Known as "Indian corners," these displays became a common feature in home design, with many of the goods used in them created specifically for the market by Native artists. Merchants and makers sold these goods in department stores, “Indian stores,” and other commercial outlets.

Blankets like this one—called trade blankets, since they were originally exchanged between Native Americans and European settlers—were among the most popular collectors’ items. Pendleton Woolen Mills was the first American company established solely for their manufacture. Although there were other mills that also produced this kind of blanket, Pendleton took the craft to a new level. This was thanks in part to its employment of loom artisan Joe Rawnsley (d. 1929). Rawnsley toured the West to work with Native populations in creating specific designs and color schemes inspired by different tribes’ traditions. He used the Jacquard process in which punched cards guided automatic looms to produce blankets of much greater variety and detail than previously possible.

But what about that Shriner emblem, with its familiar crescent and scimitar? Around the time of this blanket’s design copyright, the Shriners—and Freemasons in general—were growing in strength and number throughout the country. National membership in the Shrine had grown to approximately 500,000 by 1921. Possibly this blanket was created to attract the purchasing dollars of this Masonic group. Regardless of what prompted its creation, this blanket reflects the popular interest in both Native American objects and Freemasonry in the 1920s.

2018_001DP2DB
Reverse, Blanket with Shrine Symbol, 1921. Pendleton Woolen Mills, Pendleton, Oregon. Museum Purchase, 2018.001. Photograph by David Bohl.

 

 

References:

Crazy Crow Trading Post, “American Indian Trade Blankets: The Rise of Pendleton Woolen Mills as the Primary Trade Blanket of Contemporary Native Americans,” https://www.crazycrow.com/site/rise-of-pendleton-native-american-trade-blankets/, (accessed Feb. 14, 2019).

The Henry Ford, “Sparking Innovation: The Jacquard Loom,” https://www.thehenryford.org/explore/blog/sparking-innovation-the-jacquard-loom/, (accessed Apr. 16, 2019).

Elizabeth Hutchinson, The Indian Craze: Primitivism, Modernism, and Transculturation in American Art, 1890-1915 (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2009). 3, 11-13.

William D. Moore, Masonic Temples: Freemasonry, Ritual Architecture, and Masculine Archetypes (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006). 106-7.

Pendleton, “Indian Trading Blanket History,” https://www.pendleton-usa.com/indian-trading-blanket-history.html, (accessed Feb. 14, 2019).

 


In Keeping with the Holiday Spirit

In the spirit of the holiday season, the staff of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library would like to thank the readers of the museum’s official blog for their support and to wish all our patrons happy and healthy Holidays. In this last post for 2017, we would like to highlight this festive panoramic document from the collection, a 1924 Christmas program created by the Al Malaikah Temple Shriners of Los Angeles, California.  

[obverse panel 1] A2016_086_DS1

 

[obverse panel 3] A2016_086_DS3

[obverse panel 2]
A2016_086_DS2

[obverse panel 4]
A2016_086_DS4

[obverse panel 5] A2016_086_DS5

[reverse panels]
Panel 2

If you happen to be in the metro Boston area during the holidays, please consult our website for more information regarding the museum's current exhibitions, including a wonderful exhibition of World War I posters, which celebrates the one-hundredth anniversary of America’s entry into the First World War. If you cannot make it to Lexington during the busy holiday season, please explore the Library and Archives' Digital Collections or the Museum's online collections.


Captions

Christmas Ceremonial and Cornerstone Ceremony program, 1924. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MA 014.

 


The Shrine Circus

2010_024_1DS2

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will shut down “The Greatest Show on Earth” this May, after 146 years. In light of this upcoming closure, we wanted to highlight the history of another famous touring circus still active today, the Shrine Circus. On February 26, 1906, the Moslem Shrine Temple premiered the Mystic Shriners’ Yankee Circus in Egypt at the Light Guard Armory in Detroit, Michigan. The Shrine Circus, associated with Shriners International, also known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, currently travels to over 120 cities in the United States. Different local Shrine Temples sponsor and host the circus in their respective communities. No two Shrine Circuses are the same and a circus can feature anywhere from one to forty performances.

This 1956 photograph shows performers from the Arabia Temple Shrine Circus in Houston, Texas. The circus features a variety of clown performances, acrobats, and trained performing animals, including elephants and tigers. Although we have not yet identified the performers pictured in the photograph, there is a good  chance that some members of the Arabia Clown Jewels, an officially recognized unit of "good-will ambassadors" within the Arabia Temple, participated in the circus. The art of clowning is a significant part of Shrine fraternal history and is intertwined with the Shrine parade and circus traditions. The Shrine Circus, sometimes called "The Circus with a Heart" is often a fundraiser, not only for the Shriner organization, but also for the hospitals and charitable organizations the Shrine supports. To learn more about the Shrine visit our previous blog posts here. To see this photograph and others related to the Shrine on a map visit us on HistoryPin.

Do you have memories of a Shrine Circus you attended? Were you or a family member involved in the Shrine Circus? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Caption:

Masonic Arabia Temple Shrine Circus, 1956. Ace Photographers, Houston, Texas. Museum Purchase through the generosity of Helen G. Deffenbaugh in memory of George S. Deffenbaugh, 2010.024.1.

References: 

John H. McConnell, Shrine Circus: A History of the Mystic Shriners' Yankee Circus in Egypt (Detroit, Michigan: Astley & Ricketts, 1998) 

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


Another Mystery to Be Solved...

2009_022DP1 In 2009, the National Heritage Museum was given a fez for its collection. Normally, we consider the prospective gift of a fez very carefully, because we are fortunate to have an extensive collection of these regalia items and we try not to collect objects that duplicate our existing holdings. However, this fez was unusual. As you can see in the photo to the left, it is green and embroidered with a camel and the words “Caliphs of Bagdad.”

As I cataloged it in our computerized database, I did some research trying to determine what group might have used it originally. Unfortunately, I could not find any information about when or where it came from and the donor could only tell me that it was passed down in his wife’s family. So, in November 2009, I turned to the readers of The Northern Light, the quarterly magazine of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., and asked for their help with identifying it.

I received a number of responses, including several that offered plausible leads. A reader from Springfield, Massachusetts, told me that the Association of Shrine Oriental Bands of North America has a subsidiary group of Past Presidents called the Caliphs, but admitted that he never saw a fez for that specific group. A man from New Jersey asked how I knew that this fez was Masonic. And, as I was quick to tell him, I do not know if this fez is Masonic.  It may well have been used by a non-Masonic fraternal group.

Indeed, several readers suggested that it might come from other groups. One mentioned the Phi Delta Kappa fraternity explaining that the group often tried to come up with new ideas to promote interest over the years and that this fez might be one of those ideas. A Pennsylvania reader called in to tell me about the Princes of Bagdad, a group associated with the Knights of Malta, but research into their logo did not turn up any similarities. And, a reader from Iowa suggested that perhaps the fez was associated with the fraternal group, the Order of Camels, which was founded in Milwaukee in 1920. If anyone knows of regalia from that group, I would love to hear about it or see a photograph.

Perhaps the most exciting response to my query was the arrival in the mail of a second green “Caliphs of Bagdad” fez! A reader from Pennsylvania had received the fez from a friend thirty years previously and generously decided to donate it to the Museum (while we try not to collect multiple copies of the same item, we often make an exception with textile items because it is helpful to have a second piece that can rotate into an exhibition and protect them both from overexposure to the lighting in the gallery). Unfortunately, like the donor of the first fez, this donor did not know where his friend had originally found the fez.

From my perspective, two of the leads I received were the most plausible. The first came from two different Northern Light readers, one from Michigan and one from Ohio, who called in and told me that they knew of green fezzes being awarded as honorary gifts in their respective communities. One man said that it was the Knights of Columbus that did this, while the other cited an example of a Shrine Temple doing the same. The second came from a reader in New Jersey who tracked down a newspaper account of the 1937 Shrine convention in Detroit, Michigan. That article, from the June 23, 1937, issue of The Detroit News reads “The Chicago unit, the largest delegation, was next with a pink and white striped group of caliphs drawing a golden sphinx and a live camel and a band of 110 musicians wearing white and green and flying yellow pennants…” A green and yellow fez seems like it might have been just the right headwear for this group.

What do you think? Have you ever seen a fez like this? Do you know when and where it was originally worn? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

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

 


The Talented Charles Buckles Falls

76_59_2DI1 Falls painting For many years, I have wanted to know more about a group of graphically charged and boldly colored paintings in the museum’s collection by the artist Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960). In making selections for “Curators' Choice: Favorites from the Collection,” I had the perfect opportunity to explore them further.

The talented Falls illustrated books and designed posters, advertisements, invitations, book bindings, stage sets, fabric and furniture in a career that spanned from the late 1890s through 1960. He produced some of his best-known work for the Division of Pictorial Publicity during World War I. You can see several examples here. Falls executed much of his work for paying clients, including Masonic publications such as The Shrine Magazine and The New York Masonic Outlook. In 1927 editors at The New York Masonic Outlook described Falls as “one of the distinguished artists of the day.”

Based on the topic, size, style and information from the donor, we believe Falls made nine paintings in76_59_10DP1 Falls Feb 1927   the museum’s collection (7 oils and 2 watercolors) for The Shrine Magazine. At least five of the paintings eventually graced the cover of the publication, all in 1927. This February cover and Falls’ related painting offer an opportunity to compare the artist’s original artwork against the magazine that arrived in subscribers’ mailboxes.

Editors shaped “The Shrine Magazine,” published from May 1926 to December 1928, to appeal to not only to male Shrine members, but also to their families with attractive covers, short fiction, a women’s department and general interest articles. To capture readers' attention, editors hired several popular illustrators, such as Falls, to create artistic covers for the magazine. Their cover art did not often relate to stories or articles in the magazine, nor were these artists necessarily associated with Freemasonry. Falls, for example, does not appear to have been a member.

Commercial artwork is ephemeral--sold to a client, who may use it as he likes, for a fee. The end product, a magazine or advertisement, might be read once and then thrown away. However, in this case, as suggested by information from the donor, Falls’ wife, Bedelia, preserved these examples of her husband's work.  Eventually, they came to the museum for visitors to enjoy.

If you have any questions or information about Falls and his association with “The Shrine Magazine,” please get in touch or leave a comment, we'd love to hear from you. 

Photo credits:

Rider on a White Horse, ca. 1927. Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960). New York, New York. Gift of Dorothy H. Trower, in memory of Ralph E. Trower, 76.59.2.

Cover, The Shrine Magazine, February 1927. Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960). New York, New York. Gift of Dorothy H. Trower, in memory of Ralph E. Trower, 76.59.10.  Photograph by David Bohl.

References:

Wayne G. Hammond, The Graphic Art of C. B. Falls: An Introduction, Chapin Library, Williams College, 1982.

Norman Kent, “C. B. Falls, 1874- 1960: A Career in Retrospect,” American Artist, Februrary, 1962.

Thanks to Wayne Hammond, Assistant Librarian, Chapin Library, Williams College and Thomas M. Savini, Director, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge for their help in providing information about C. B. Falls to the museum.