Elks Fraternal Organization Collectibles

The Elks are a fraternal organization in the United States in which members bond over common business and civic interests and devote their energies to common causes in their communities. To identify themselves and their specific charitable interests, members wear characteristic pins, ties, and hats.

What is the Elks fraternal organization?

The Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks was founded in 1868 in New York City by a group of actors who wanted someplace where they could commiserate. The organization's chapters were dubbed "lodges." The organization named itself after an indigenous North American animal and borrowed many rituals from Freemasonry.

By the beginning of the 20th century, however, the order had become a civic organization whose members dedicated much of their time to fundraising activities. The Elks National Foundation is the arm of the Benevolent Order of the Elks that gives money to various causes, including support for families of deployed service members, college scholarships, and financial support for junior sports programs. What types of lodge memorabilia are there?

Collectors gravitate toward Benevolent Order of the Elks memorabilia for a number of different reasons. For some, the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks represents a golden age when life was less complicated and civic duty was paramount. Protective Order collectibles include the following:

  • Pins: Vintage lodge pins are die-cast pieces of metal decorated with cloisonné embellishments. Each Elk Lodge had its own characteristically shaped pin. Pin shapes include stars, hearts, hollow circles, squares, numerals, and standing figures of animals or local landmarks. Enamel was used to designate the name of the city or town, dates, or other important information associated with the lodge. Some lodge pins have simple designs and look like campaign buttons. Branding on these lodge pins is accomplished using colored ribbons attached to the buttons. Button flairs frequently signify the charitable missions a lodge member has participated in.
  • Jewelry: Lodge jewelry includes signet rings, tie clips, pendants, watch fobs, hat pins, and cuff links. Ring settings were manufactured from an assortment of metals, including 10-karat gold, 14-karat gold, and nickel alloys; gemstones include spinels, onyx, and small diamonds. Frequently, these rings were embossed with Benevolent Order of the Elks insignia and stylized portraits of elks.
  • Ties: Lodge ties come in a variety of colors, including solids and multicolor, and sizes. They’re frequently decorated with portraits of elks.
  • Hats: In the organization's earliest days, lodge members wore fez-like hats with tassels. By the middle of the 20th century, the baseball cap had become the standard headgear. These caps are decorated with patches and embroidery denoting their owners’ lodge and civic affiliations.
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