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Patch Trading

Nobody knows when the first swap of Order of the Arrow emblems took place, but it had to be soon after the first badges of Wimachtendienk appeared. In the early years there was no trading of OA insignia. The first insignia in 1916 were pins. Pins were made of silver or gold. They were relatively expensive, certainly when compared to patches. An Unami Lodge gold Second Degree pin in 1919 might have cost $2.00; the cost of 20 die-cut felt camp monogram patches. No one was trading them with each other.

At the first Grand Lodge Meeting in 1921 most of the delegates were professional Scouters. They had much to discuss, but they were not trading. The first badges of the Order were issued shortly thereafter. The first chenille shaped badge from Minsi Lodge of Reading, Pennsylvania was issued circa 1922. But there was really no one to trade it with and no real location to wear it (OA Insignia was forbidden from the uniform until 1942, and that was for just the Universal Arrow Ribbon.) It was not until 1945 that pocket patches (not flaps) were approved for uniforms.

Circa 1925 Ranachqua Lodge from the Bronx, New York issued a chenille. At the following Grand Lodge Meeting in 1926 a motion was made to fully authorize OA patches. The motion was approved, however a requirement was made that only Brotherhood / Second Degree members or above could have them. With such stringent patch restrictions there still was virtually no trading of Wimachtendienk emblems going on.

The earliest example of a multiple OA emblem collection came from an Arrowman in Minsi Lodge. He had only three patches, but they were from different lodges. That meant he either swapped them or was given them as he was only in one of the lodges. The first badge in the collection and only one previously known to collectors was a Minsi Lodge chenille dating to circa 1927. The other badges, dated to the same period, were from Unami Lodge and from Swatara Lodge, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

By the 1930s swapping had begun at meetings of the Grand Lodge. In 1933 at the Chicago hosted Grand Lodge Meeting there would have been patches everywhere to be seen; not so many OA emblems, but camp patches and World’s Fair patches. Chicago was already using a system of year badges and activity badges on their neckerchiefs. Swapping would have taken place, although probably not much involving OA emblems. The trades were done in fellowship. It was an exchange to remember a brother from another lodge. By 1936 at the Grand Lodge Meeting that had changed. Arrowmen were trading patches. There is a reference in the 1938 National Meeting Minutes that states, “once again badge swapping was a popular activity at the meeting”. The earliest photograph of OA badge trading was taken at the 1938 meeting held at Camp Irondale, Missouri.

On February 19,1937 the National Executive Committee in a letter to Scout Executives asked them in their role as Supreme Chief of the Fire,

to stress to his Order of the Arrow members attending the (1937) Jamboree, that they should not swap or exchange Order of the Arrow insignia.

It is not known why such an admonishment was made and there was never a written order rescinding of the policy. It is known that OA patch trading took place at the 1937 National Jamboree with multiple collections documented from the event.

By 1940, patch “swapping” was a major pastime for Arrowmen at national, regional and area events. In general it was “one for one” trading. It did not interrupt program and was done in fellowship. Many Arrowmen when they left the Order and moved on from patch swapping would give the patches to younger lodge members to trade and have fun with.

Up until 1948, there were no books or guides that had pictures of OA patches. J. Rucker Newbery collected OA patches, or as he would have called them, emblems. He called them emblems because they were “emblematic” meaning they stood for something (a fact often lost when patches are made for no reason other than for them to be rare or collected). In 1948 Newbery edited the first Order of the Arrow Handbook. In the book he included two pages devoted to pictures of emblems. This gave some lodges the impetus needed to create their own emblem for the first time. The badges were also really wonderful looking and, to many of the thousands of Arrowmen that bought the handbook, were fascinating. The patch-trading hobby was spreading rapidly.

In 1952 Dwight W. Bischel published his Wabaningo Lodge Emblem Handbook (The “Wab” book). Inside the Wab book Bischel provided all sorts of information never offered to Arrowmen. Each lodge that was known to have an emblem was listed in lodge number order and the badge was photographed if available. Other pertinent information such as city and state of the lodge, council name, meaning of name, etc. was listed. The colors of the patches were also listed because the Wab book was not printed in color. The book was actively promoted in the OA National Bulletinand at the National OA Conference. Bischel quickly sold-out 2,000 copies of the book in under a year. A generation of patch collecting Arrowmen emerged.

The patch-trading hobby continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Hobby newsletters were developed such as The Trader which emerged following the 1953 National Jamboree and was first edited by Mike Diamond. It was during the 1950s that the OA started to make flaps in large quantities. Once Arrowmen could collect the same shaped patch from every lodge neatly cataloged in number order the hobby accelerated amongst Arrowmen.

Just as with any thing that is new and explodes in interest, problems developed. When Arrowmen learned that Bischel had obtained the badges by writing to council offices many traders started writing to council’s seeking patches. Some offices liked making the extra money or had a relationship with an Arrowman more than glad to have a new patch trading pen pal. Other found it to be a major distraction having to devote personnel to return unwanted money or patches sent by a hopeful Scout. In 1960 the OA made an official statement that Arrowmen were not to write to council offices for patches.

Other problems involved “restrictions” on patches. This made patches unequal in trade and caused a loss of fellowship. National strongly recommended an end to restrictions in late 1975. The biggest problem though was from a minority of over-zealous traders who were disrupting actual program because they were only present to trade patches. To be sure, the great majority of patch traders were active Arrowmen giving service and trading some patches along the way. In 1977 the NOAC theme show actually vilified a flap trader for not having the correct spirit. They showed him with a brief case full of patches, skipping training and having no idea of the purpose of the OA. Within the patch trading community the hobby changed.

One part of the change was that patch “traders” were becoming patch “collectors”. There was a heightened awareness that program must come first and that collectors needed to police themselves. More books were being produced. National and regional books were being written and published that provide the history of insignia. Arrowmen started paying more and more attention to their locally issued items. Patch organizations such as National Scout Collectors Society, Western Traders Association, the American Scouting Historical Society and American Scouting Traders Association (ASTA) and later the International Scout Collectors Association (ISCA) formed. They included a code of ethics. Among rules were not mailing council offices and not trading during training sessions and always following the rules of the event (whether they agreed with them or not).

Starting in the 1960s and gaining in popularity through 2000 were events separate from program only for traders. They were called “Trade-o-rees”. By the 1970s a National Trade-o-ree was held in conjunction with each National OA Conference or Jamboree. Many lodges learned to host trade-o-rees as fundraisers often including a memorabilia auction. The first “official” trade-o-ree at a NOAC was at the 2009 Conference held on campus at the University of Indiana.

The patch trading groups that had developed were also publishing magazines that provided information for collectors. This had the affect of converting what were patch “collectors” in the 1980s and 1990s to Scout “historians” in the 2000s. More and more collectors were interested in preserving the insignia of their lodge, camp or council through the insignia that had been issued. Because the insignia became collectible, value became associated with the memorabilia. During the past 15 years unbelievable values have been associated with rare OA insignia. This is a measure of the passion of Arrowmen for their history.

Collectibles of all types have passion and value associated with them. But OA insignia is different than something like a baseball card. A baseball card never plays the game of baseball. In most cases the card is never even touched by the player depicted or anyone else in Major League Baseball. But OA insignia had to be earned by an Arrowman. The emblem represents the presence and service of an elder brother.

A fortunate by-product of the passion and swapping and trading over the years is the Order of the Arrow’s insignia has been preserved for posterity. Books such as The Blue Book - Standard Order of the Arrow Insignia Catalog, edited by Bill Topkis and websites like the Internet Guide to OA Insignia published by John Pannell along with exhibitions such as the OA Center for History at NOAC or the 2010 Mysterium Compass Vault at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree have made it possible for Arrowmen to continue to meet their obligation by observing and preserving the traditions of the Order of the Arrow.

The patch-trading hobby remains strong. Walk through any Jamboree or NOAC (when program is not going on, please) and patch trading can be found in almost every nook and cranny.

Awards, Background, Insignia, National Event, OA, Profile, Scouting

OA Patches Approved for Uniform Wear

While patches are now pervasive in the Order of the Arrow, at the beginning of 1945, Arrowmen were still prohibited from wearing any OA patch on their uniform. This was related to the independence of the Order from national BSA. The BSA Uniform Committee had not permitted WWW patches on the uniform and the National Lodge dutifully requested compliance. However as often is the case, not everyone complied.

Images from the 1938 National Meeting at Camp Irondale, Missouri confirm that there were already OA patches being worn on the uniform. In 1945 the BSA Uniform Committee finally relented and for the first time OA patches could be worn on the Scout Uniform on the right shirt pocket (not the pocket flap). Flaps were not authorized until 1954.

3, Insignia, OA, Scouting

First Official Uniform Insignia

Even though the Order had existed for over a quarter century and had always used insignia, it was not until 1942 that Arrowmen could “officially” wear any OA item on the uniform. In a sign of the growing importance of the expanding official Scout program, the BSA Uniform Committee authorized the Universal Arrow Ribbon. The first Universal Arrow Ribbon was very similar to what is still used today. It was made to fit over the right shirt pocket button and was a red and white silk ribbon with a sterling arrow. These first arrows were designed to point left instead of right. It would be three more years before the first patches were authorized for uniform wear.

3, Insignia, OA, Scouting

First Flap - Ajapeu Lodge

Over the years there have been over 25,000 different flap shaped badges made for the OA. In total over ten million (10,000,000) patches have been made, worn, and of course, traded. The members of Ajapeu Lodge, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, wore the first of all of those flaps on their uniform shirts. It was also against BSA insignia guidelines.

At first they did not order a separate patch for their shirts. Circa 1942 lodge members began bringing their shirts to a local seamstress who would directly embroider the lodge totem, a running deer with an arrow behind it, onto the uniform pocket flap. A few years later they found it easier to have the design embroidered onto a piece of uniform colored material that could be crimped onto the pocket flap. Later circa 1949 they made a more finished flap patch with their name and other relevant information.

2, Insignia, OA, Scouting

Third (and last) Official Jeweler

The Order of the Arrow beginning in 1922 had selected an Official OA Jeweler, to make insignia including totem pins. The first jeweler was the National Jewelry Company. In 1927 The Grand Lodge selected Hood and Company as the second Jeweler. In Early 1945 Jennings Hood sold his company to J.E. Caldwell and Company and went to work for them. His stunning jeweler dies were retained; the back die was changed to show the new hallmark.

J.E. Caldwell like the two previous Official Jewelers was located in Philadelphia. Their quality was considered so fine; J. E. Caldwell was called the Tiffany’s of Philadelphia. Because the vast majority of known Brotherhood and Vigil totem pins bear the Caldwell hallmark, the pins are often called “Caldwell Pins”.

Caldwell remained the official jeweler throughout the 1950s. Most lodges ceased using totem pins by 1962. They were still listed as the Official Jeweler in the OA National Bulletin as late as winter, 1968. In early 1973 the OA stated that J.E. Caldwell was no longer the Official Jeweler and to direct all inquiries to National Supply.

2, Insignia, OA, Scouting

Change in Vigil Honor Totem

At the 1931 Grand Lodge Meeting the delegates unanimously passed a motion to change the Third Degree (Vigil Honor) symbol from a triangle to an arrowhead with arrow superimposed on it, upon which was placed the totem of the local lodge. There is no evidence that the new Vigil Honor totem was ever used or produced and this action was reversed at the next Grand Lodge Meeting in 1933. Nine years later this design concept became the basis of the design of the Distinguished Service Award.

3, Awards, Insignia, OA, Scouting

Second Official Jeweler

In 1927, the Grand Lodge selected Hood and Company of Philadelphia as the second Official Jeweler of the Order. Hood and Company with Arrowman Jennings Hood proprietor replaced the National Jewelry Company. Hood and Company made the silver arrow pins worn by all members as well as the Brotherhood Honor / Second Degree and Vigil Honor / Third Degree totem pins for individual lodges. It was not required that a lodge use Hood and several lodges such as Moqua Lodge of Chicago and Zit-Kala-Sha Lodge of Louisville, Kentucky chose local jewelers. Hood would remain the official jeweler until 1945 when Jennings Hood went to work for J.E. Caldwell Company of Philadelphia and brought his high quality jeweler dies of the totems with him.

3, Insignia, OA, Scouting

First Grand Lodge Membership Card

With the formation of the Grand Lodge there was a desire for a Wimachtendienk membership card that could be used by those lodges that did not choose to print their own cards.

According to the minutes of the Grand Lodge Session at Camp Linstead, Baltimore, MD, on October 12-13, 1923: 

It was recommended that an engraved individual membership certificate be made available at a price that would provide a profit for the Grand Lodge, and we recommend that the Supply Officer draw up and submit such a certificate.

There is no record as to when the first Grand Lodge card was printed. It was likely created later in 1923 or in 1924. The earliest known copy of a Grand Lodge printed membership card [Type 1] is from 1925 with dues paid to 1926. The card has the name “Wimachtendienk W.W.” on it. Examples of this card have been found with “dues paid” to dates as late as 1932.

3, Insignia, OA, Scouting

First Meeting of the Grand Lodge

In 1921 Wimachtendienk, W.W. (a common way at the time of referring to what we know as the Order of the Arrow) was ready to have a national structure. Patterned similar to the Freemasons, it was decided that each lodge would become a member of the Grand Lodge. On October 7 and 8, 1921, the first Grand Lodge Meeting hosted by the Philadelphia lodges, Unami and Unalachtigo was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at their Camp Biddle. These meetings would later become known as National Meetings and are the distant predecessors of today’s NOACs. The first meeting was attended by eight of the eleven known lodges. The use of the term “known” was deliberate in the meeting minutes. Our young Order had spread by word of mouth. In the early days of Scouting it was common for multiple councils/camps to share the same lake. For example, in upstate New York near Tuxedo Park there were more than thirty Scout camps around the Kanohwanke Lakes including council camps for Ranachqua Lodge and Pamrapaugh Lodge. It is still not known exactly which other lodges had formed in these early years, but clearly Goodman and Edson were aware that others had formed and they had no way to contact them.

Co-founder Edson was selected to chair the first meeting. During the meeting four committees were formed. One of the committees was formed to frame the Grand Lodge Constitution. Another committee was formed to re-write and provide for further revisions of the ceremonies. Committees were also created regarding insignia and record keeping. Grand Lodge officer elections were held.

At the conclusion of the first day of the meeting the delegates traveled to Camp Biddle and held a re-dedication ceremony. The image of this ceremony is a significant historical photograph of our Order. In the image can be seen the founders in the original black robes with turtle totems. It is also the only known image that shows the three-part Third Degree (Vigil) bib sash.

1, Ceremonies, Elections, Founders, Goodman, Insignia, National Event, OA, Scouting

First Vigil Honor Sash

The only known photograph of the original sash for Third Degree (Vigil Honor) members is from the rededication council fire at Camp Biddle during the 1921 first meeting of the Grand Lodge. The photo shows the three part “bib” type sash around both E. Urner Goodman’s and Carroll A. Edson’s necks. One side of the triangle had an arrow pointing over the right shoulder signifying the First Degree. One side of the triangle had an arrow pointing over the left shoulder signifying the Second Degree. The third side of the triangle had an arrow pointing to Goodman’s left as he wore it. The third arrow and side completed the triangle, which was the sign of the Third Degree. There are no other known pictures showing this bib; nor are there any known bib type sashes in collections or displays. There is also no evidence that anyone other than Goodman and Edson ever wore this sash.

When the Grand Lodge formed in 1921 there were eight Arrowmen who had been initiated into the Third Degree and they would all need a sash. By August of 1922 The Grand Lodge produced the first Grand Lodge issued Third Degree Sash. In an August 1922 letter from Horace Kern, Secretary for the Third Degree, Kern states in pertinent part:

Those who have already paid for their bands (sashes) and their dues need pay no attention to the above as this is merely a circular letter.

The Third Degree sash was made similar to the First and Second Degree sash in that the base material was white wool-felt with white linen backing. Unlike the First/Second Degree sash there was no large red felt arrow. Instead there was a four and one half-inch red wool-felt equilateral triangle with three small white felt arrows sewn to the middle of the sash. The arrows on the red felt triangle formed a triangle pointed in a clockwise direction. This sash has become known as the “no arrow” sash.

There are varieties of the no arrow Third Degree sash regarding direction of the arrows and notches in the fletchings of the small arrows. The no arrow sash was used through 1937. During the tenure of the no arrow sash there were two other Third Degree sashes used, one with a large red arrow first appeared around 1928 in Region 2 (New York, New Jersey) and a sash used in Region 7 (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan) that was linen with a large red arrow and a white linen triangle in the middle with red small arrows. In a picture from the 1933 Grand Lodge meeting there are at least four varieties of different Third Degree bands visible.

3, Insignia, OA, Scouting

First Membership Cards

To the best of our knowledge the Wimachtendienk did not issue membership cards prior to the formation of the Grand Lodge in 1921. However, there is an example of a receipt for dues paid that dates back to 1918-19.

In 1921, the year the Grand Lodge was formed, Unami Lodge issued a beautiful membership card solely for its own members. The card had membership information on the front side and a picture of the lodge that was built on Treasure Island on the reverse. This 1921 membership card is the earliest known local lodge or Grand Lodge issue.

Unami Lodge continued their tradition of issuing their own membership card for many years. Unami was not the only local lodge that maintained their own membership cards throughout the history of the Wimachtendienk/Grand Lodge/National – Order of the Arrow.

3, Insignia, OA, Scouting

First Sash (Black)

One of the enduring mysteries of the early days of the Wimachtendienk is the question of what the very first sashes of our Order looked like. There are two differing written accounts, both from extremely reliable eyewitnesses that were present at the beginning in 1915. Harry Yoder, the first guide and charter member of the Order, wrote circa 1921,

In the early days of the Order the members wore a black sash with a white stripe running lengthwise instead of the white band with the red arrow.

George Chapman’s account is slightly different. Chapman, also a 1915 Charter Member of Wimachtendienk and first youth leader had a different memory. His account in the unpublished work The Arrow and the Vigil (1953) states,

As has been previously mentioned, the officers of Wimachtendienk wore black robes for the induction ceremony. Members wore a black sash with a white arrow on it, very similar to the sash worn today except for the color.

There are no other written accounts of the first sash. Neither founder, nor any other charter member or adult support staff is known to have described the original sash. The 1916 Constitution is also silent on the construction of the sash. There are no known physical examples of a 1915 sash. We likely will never know which account is most accurate and the exact first sash will likely remain a mystery of the Order.

3, Insignia, OA, Scouting