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Odd Fellows

Secret societies are, by their nature, mysteries to people who aren’t part of them. Other people are aware of their symbols. This carved wooden shelf is decorated with symbols of the Odd Fellows. It features three chain links, representing the society’s values of friendship, love, and truth.

Other symbols have more general, familiar meanings. The heart-in-hand is a symbol for benevolence that is often associated with the Odd Fellows but not used exclusively by them. The All-Seeing Eye, sun, and globe carry meanings of universal spirit.

The hourglass, scythe, skull and crossbones are well-known symbols of mortality.

The Odd Fellows is be-lieved to have originated in medieval trade guilds, with odd fellow meaning someone who did odd jobs for a living. They did charitable work in their communities and provided financial assistance among members.

At one point, the Odd Fellows was the largest secret society in the U.S., but membership dropped during the Great Depression. Famous members included actor Charlie Chaplin, aviator Charles Lindbergh, and multiple U.S. presidents, first ladies, and political figures, including Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Q: My mother had an old oil lamp sitting on the kitchen table. It did not have the original chimney, but she was able to find another one that fit. The top globe is also missing. The bottom globe has four raised lion heads with biblical or desert scenes between them. I saw one very similar to ours in an antique shop, and the price was $600! Could mine be this valuable?

A: Oil lamps continue to be sought by collectors. The late 19th-century lamps were re-named Gone With The Wind lamps when they were used as set decorations in the 1939 movie. This style of oil lamp has two shades or globes with a chimney in between.

Many have been modified for use as electrical lamps. Your lamp only has the bottom globe. Complete lamps that are similar to yours have recently sold for $75 to $275.

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