From the earliest institution of Fraternal and secret societies, swords have played a significant part
in their ritual. Swords from the Masonic organization are probably the oldest swords of this type that
are encountered, some dating back to the mid 1700's. This organization was very popular in the
1700's in Europe and found its way to the US with the European colonization of the Americas. In the
late 1800s in the US there was an expansion of interest in fraternal organizations with many new
organizations being created. These organizations were sometimes simply drinking or social clubs
that copied (or often ridiculed) the activities and regalia of the existing Fraternal or secret
organizations of the times. Others were organized around political or "patriotic" ideals. Often these
"ideals" were very bigoted and racist. However, a very large proportion of these organizations were
instituted as beneficial or insurance societies that provide old age, medical and life insurance
benefits to their members. Many of the organizations that existed in the late 1800's as beneficial
societies are now part of major insurance companies, having dropped all Fraternal trappings in the
modern age. Other organizations have flourished and have evolved into modern service oriented
fraternal organizations such as the Elks or Moose.

Each fraternal organization has rituals, titles, and regalia that is specific to that organization. Each
group freely utilized secret symbology on their costume and swords. Often this symbology was only
used by one organization, while in other instances the symbology is common to many organizations
(due to copying of ritual from previous organizations). By studying the symbology seen on a specific
sword, it is hoped that the collector can attribute a specific sword to a specific organization.

Currently active fraternal organizations such as the Freemasons / Masonic Order, Benevolent
Protectorate Order of the Elks, Knights of Pythias, Knights of Columbus, The Loyal Order of the
Moose, Ancient Order of Hibernians, etc. continue to utilize swords in their regalia. Examples from
the late 1800s and early 1900s show up at auctions and shows with regularity. Currently there are no
good references works on fraternal swords, their use, and their variations. This site is intended to be
a focal point for collectors to exchange infomations about fraternal and lodge swords.

Listed below is current information about a number of Fraternal and secret societies. It will expand
as we get additional information.

If you have a sword to identify, please review the lists and information below.  If you have a sword to
an organization that is not listed, please let us know and we can add to the list.

Just for fun .... go to the bottom of this page and check out the list of "animal" and "vegetable" and
other interesting fraternal organizations that have existed. It is quite entertaining!


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Here is the beginnings of a list of common Fraternal Organizations whose swords we have seen:



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Freemasons
The Freemasons are an international society and fraternal organization who trace their origins back
to the middle ages. The organization is extant today with a large membership. They use swords in
their ritual and regalia and may be the first organization to have used swords for fraternal ceremony.
Because of their longevity and the many subgroups and offshoots of Freemasonry, there are many
different styles of Masonic swords. The Shriners are a subgroup of the Masons whose regalia is
pseudo Moorish and includes scimitars. Freemasonry freely uses symbology in masonic regalia
much of which has been copied by other fraternal organizations. Many, many variations on sword
patterns and decoration have been noted:
Freemansonry consists of the Blue Lodge, which confers the three degrees of Freeemasonry. All
other Masonic or Masonic related organisations, rites, and degrees are considered "Apendant".

Major Masonic subgroups in the US are the York Rite and the Scottish Rite. One must have
achieved the three Blue Lodge degrees (be a Master Mason) in order to enter either the York or
Scottish Rites. Each has their own rituals and degree structure.

The York Rite has three levels which include:

The Chapter of the Royal Arch
The Council of Royal and Select Masters
The Order of the Temple (Knights Templar)

The Scottish Rite has 32 degee levels, which will not be detailed here for lack of space.

Once you have completed the requirements of the York or Scottish Rites, you may join the Ancient
Arabic Order of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners).

The Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (Grotto) are another Masonic
related organization.



Fraternal Sword

Masonic Knights Templar(founded 1816) The main Uniform Rank of Freemasonry.

Click here to see more KT Swords.

Got a KT sword? There are dozens of different styles. Click here to get values on Masonic Knights
Templar swords from Ebay!



Sword styles seen in Masonic ritual or parade regalia:

Cruciform hilt, letter G or masonic square and compass on crossguard
TBD There are just too many to list!

Symbology and lettering:

Masons Square (Blue Lodge)
Dividers (Blue Lodge)
"G" (Blue Lodge)
"33" (Scottish Rite)
Double headed eagle (Scottish Rite)
Triangles (sometimes in pairs) (Knights Templar)
Maltese Cross (Knights Templar)
Passion Cross (Knights Templar)
Mounted Knights (Knights Templar)
"KT" Knights Templar (Knights Templar)
Cross in a crown (Knights Templar)
"Commandery" - This will be associated with the name of a specific commandery (example
Susquehanna Commandery, Lebanon Valley Commandery, Bald Eagle Commandery)
"IHSV" - In Hoc Signo Vinces (By This Sign You Shall Conquer) (Knights Templar)


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Knights of Pythias The Knights of Pythias organization was founded in 1864. The organization now
functions as a fraternal society in the United States and Canada. They use swords in their regalia,
many variations on patterns have been noted. Prior to the late 1880's the KoP dress or parade
uniform used a variety of styles of fraternal swords. The specific design of these was not defined in
detail in the regulations and many variations are seen, from simple cruciform militia styles, to
elaborate fraternal styles also used by other organizations. After the Uniform Rank (UR) was
instituted as the uniform branch of the KoP in the late 1880s, different swords were associated with
each specific rank. There were Knights, Sergeants, Field Officers,Staff Officers, and Medical Staff
with a different pattern for each group. The officers swords were curved 1870 style sabers with lions
head pommels. All swords from the Uniform Rank have the letters UR somewhere on the hilts.
Swords from years prior to the development of the Uniform Rank do not have this lettering. For Sir
Knights, the sword is straight bladed with a cruciform brass hilt. The pommel is a knights head and
helmet with a lion on the top, and there is a chain knuckleguard. The counterguard has a lily and the
letters UR on it. The grip is leather wrapped with wire. The sergeants swords have a straight blade,
a more elaborate brass hilt with a solid knuckleguard with either a leather grip with wire wrapping or
an ivory grip. Field officers (Lieut. Capt, etc.) used a curved brass mounted cavalry saber similar to
the US pattern of 1870 cavalry swords. For staff and Field officers (Colonel and above) the swords
were again straight bladed and had elaborate hilts with ivory grips. Medical staff used swords
similar to the 1840 Army Medical staff and/or paymasters swords. These had the letters MD for
Medical Department on them, diffentiating them from military medical swords which have MS for
Medical Service.

Knights sword from the Uniform Rank, Cruciform hilt, knights head pommel with lion on helmet,
gryphon quillon, counterguard with letters "UR" and a lily, brass mountings, leather grip, single twist
of wire around grip, chain knuckleguard. (Contributed by J&S Surplus, Moss Landing, CA, USA)
Click on the following link to see detailed photos.

Knights of Pythias Sword #1

Got a KoP sword? Click here to get values on Knights of Pythias swords from Ebay!

Symbology and lettering:

"UR" - Uniform Rank
"FCB" - Friendship, Charity, Brotherhood
Figural lily
Mounted Knight
Knights Helmet
Knights Helmet with shield and battle axe or halberd
"KP" - Knight of Pythias
Figure of Samson toppling columns


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Knights of Columbus The Knights of Columbus are a Catholic organization. They are still in
existence. They use swords in their regalia, and several patterns have been noted. The earliest
pattern is a cruciform style sword with a standing eagle pommel. The second and third patterns have
the bust of Columbus as the pommel. In the second pattern Columbus faces forward when the sword
is worn, and in the third pattern Columbus faces outward when the sword is worn. Hilts are all black.
Special white hilts were authorized for KoC past officers.

Cruciform hilt, standing eagle pommel, counterguard with KoC shield, brass mountings, painted
wood grip. (Contributed by J&S Surplus, Moss Landing, CA, USA)
Cruciform hilt, white metal mounted, bust of Christopher Columbus on pommel, lettering "KoC" on
hilt. (no photo)

Click on the following link to see detailed photos.

Knight of Columbus Sword #1

Got a KoC sword? Click here to get values on Knights of Columbus swords from Ebay, but be
careful. Many Masonic Knights Templar swords are misidentified as KoC. If it doesn't have an eagle
or Columbus's head on the pommel it is NOT KoC.

Symbology and lettering:

Pommel in the form of a Bust of Christopher Columbus, wearing a hat
"KoC" - Knights of Columbus
Knights of Columbus Shield
Maltese Cross


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Ancient Order of Hibernains (AOH) The AOH is a an Irish fraternal Organization. They began in the
late 1800's and are still active today. Three patterns have been seen:

US 1860 Staff and Field style (No pictures)
Cruciform militia style, knight head pommel, simple crossguard with letters AOH. (No pictures)
Cruciforn militia NCO style, bronze hilt, with Irish Wolfhound Pommel
Click on the following link to see detailed photos.

Ancient Order of Hibernians Sword #1

Symbology and lettering:

"AOH" - Ancient Order of Hibernians
Christian Cross
Shamrock
Harp
Irish Wolfhound pommel
Celtic Knotwork Designs


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Patriotic Order of the Sons of America (POSA) One in a series of patriotic societies started in the
late 1800's, the POSA were founded in 1847. In the past they supported education, prison reform
and limits on immigration. The order still exists, check the internet for their website.
http://www.posofa.org/

1860 Style hilt with bust of George Washington as the pommel.
1840 Militia style sword with POSoA etched on blade.
Symbology and lettering:

"POSA" - Patriotic Order of Sons of America
Bust of George Washington as the pommel.
Click on the following link to see detailed photos.

Patriotic Order of the Sons of America (POSA) #1



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Improved Order of Red Men (IORM) The Red Men is an American fraternal organization founded in
the late 1700's or the early 1800's. The Improved order was founded in 1843 in Baltimore. One
sword pattern has been noted. This is a cruciform hilt sword, with a sitting/crouching eagle or indian
head pommel, has an a crossguard consisting of crossed bow and arrows and a small scroll with
Imp'd O R M.

Cruciforn militia NCO style, with Indian Pommel
Symbology and lettering:

"IORM" - Improved Order of Red Men


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Woodmen of the World (WOW) The Woodmen of the World is an American fraternal organization
founded in the 1890 as an insurance society. It is still extant today. They use swords in their regalia.
Several sword patterns have been seen by the ISCA:

Cavalry sword patterned after US 1872 Cav officers sword, curved blade, silver washed mountings,
UR WOW on hilt.
US 1860 Staff & Field style, brass mounted, eagle on pommel, WOW on hilt, crossed axes on hilt,
acorn on scabbard ornamentation
Symbology and lettering:

"WOW" - Woodmen of the World
World Globe pommel
Crossed axes
Acorn


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Benevolent Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) The Elks club is an American fraternal organization
founded in the 1868 as a social club and is now currently a fraternal, chairitable and service
organization. It is still extant today. They use swords in their regalia. Multiple sword patterns have
been used, some are standard pattersn while othes have specific functions such as "Drill team".
Here are a few seen by the ISCA:

Cruciform hilt, curved quillons, brass mounted, Globe pommel, custom etched blade to "Drill Team".
1870 style Cavalry saber with elk head decoration on hilt and scabbard.
Symbology and lettering:

"BPOE" - Benevolent Protective Order of Elks
Figural Elks
Figural Elk heads
World Globe pommel


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Ancient Order of Foresters (AOF) The AOF club is an American fraternal organization that came to
being in 1832 from a previous Enlgish organization the Royal Order of Foresters. It may be inactive,
or possibly continues in the form of The Ancient Order of Foresters of the Pacific Jurisdiction which
is currently headquartered out of Hilo Hawaii. They AOF used swords in their regalia. One sword
pattern has been used:

Cruciform hilt, flared Maltese quillons, Figural Elk head on obverse langet, reverse has letters AOF
on langet, white metal mounted, knights head pommel, brass scabbard,
Symbology and lettering:

"AOF" - Ancient Order of Foresters
Figural Elk or deer head

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Knights of St John The Knights are a Catholic organization founded in 1879 and derived from the
Knights Hospitallers of history. There are still in existance today. They use swords in their regalia,
one pattern has been noted:

Cruciform hilt, brass mounts, counterguard with maltese cross, Knights of St. John on blade, KoSt.J
on scabbard.
Symbology and lettering:

Maltese cross
KoSt.J lettering


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Loyal Order of the Moose The Moose lodge was founded in 1888 as a social club. It is currently
active. The Moose use swords in their regalia, and several patterns have been noted:

Cruciform hilt, white metal mounted, knights head pommel, figural bust of Moose on langet
Cruciform hilt, brass mounted, knights head pommel, figural bust of Moose on langet
1860 Staff and Field pattern, image of Moose on counterguard
1870 Cavalry sword with blade etched with "Military Department"
Symbology and lettering:

Figural Moose


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Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) The Odd Fellows was founded in 1819 0r 1843 as a
fraternal organization in North America. The organization is extant today with a large membership.
They have a pseudo miltiary uniformed marching society called the "Patriarchs Militant". For many
years they have used swords in their regalia. A number of variations on sword patterns and
decoration have been noted:

Cruciform hilt, brass mounted, black grip, tent pommel, crossguard with IOOF lettering, three pillars,
etc.
Symbology and lettering:

"IOOF" - Independent Order of Odd Fellows
"Patriarchs Militant"
"Pax Aut Bellum"
Crossed shepards crook and sword overlain by crown
Clasping hands
The three links
Arabian tent
Three pillars
Altar of Inscense
"All seeing eye"
Hourglass
Scythe
Bow and Arrows
Globe


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Knights of Sherwood Forest (KSF) Details of this group are unavailable, but they did use swords in
theri regalia.

Cruciform hilt with knights head pommel.
Symbology and lettering:

KSF
Elk head


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Society B. Lafayette Details are TBD.
Sword Styles:


Cruciform hilt, knights head "crapping eagle" pommel, "griffon-like" quillons, chain knucklguard,
langet composed of shield with portrait of Lafayette surrounded by "General Lafayette" with letters
"SBL" in a scoll above.
Symbology and lettering:

"SBL" - Society B. Lafayette
"General Lafayette"
Portrait of Lafayette


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Ancient Order of United Workmen (AOUW) The AOUW was founded in 1868 as a fraternal
beneficiary society. It was dissolved in 1952 but some remnants of the order were active up until
1989.

Cruciform hilt, crapping eagle pommel, AOUW on blade and scabbard, skeletal hand on scabbard
Symbology and lettering:

Anchor
Skeletel Hand
Bible
"AOUW" lettering


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Knights of the Golden Eagle (KGE) The KGE was founded in 1872 as a fraternal beneficiary
society. I am told that it is still extant.

Cruciform hilt, KGE on counterguard / langet, standing eagle pommel.
Symbology and lettering:

"KGE"


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Grand United Order of Odd Fellows (G.U.O.O.F.) Founded in 1843 in the US as a mainly black
fraternal organization paralle to the IOOF. The group is still extant.

Cruciform hilt, brass mounted, white grip, tent pommel, crossguard with GUOOF lettering, three
pillars, etc.
Symbology and lettering:

"GUOOF"
Tent Pommel


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Catholic Knights of America (CKA) The CKA were founded in 1877 as a fraternal and insurance
organization for Catholics. They had a Uniform Rank that wore paramilitary uniforms.

Cruciform hilt, White metal mounted, black grip, knights head pommel, counterguard with CKA
lettering.
Symbology and lettering:

"CKA"


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Other Organizations That Have Been Documented as Using Swords in Thier Regalia:


The American Legion - The Legion was formed as an association for U.S. servicemen in 1919. It is
currently active.

United Ancient Order of Druids (UAOD) - This is a smaller fraternal organization of the late 1800's. It
is not known if it is still thriving, but some activity reported in San Francisco CA in the late 1980's.

American Legion of Honor - The Legion of Honor was founded in 1878 as a fraternal, social,
insurance, and secret society. It is now extinct.

American Protective Association (APA) - This organization was formed as a "patriotic" organization
in 1887. It was virulently anti-catholic and anti immigrant. It disappeared soon after WW I.

Brotherhood of American Yeoman - The Brotherhood was a secret fraternal benefit society founded
in 1897. Its rituals and cermonies revolved around Sir Walter Scott's novel "Ivanhoe". It is now extinct.
Catholic Order of Foresters - This organization was formed in 1833 as a Catholic alternative to the
Freemasons. It was still active in 1994.

Fraternal Order of Eagles - TBD

Order of Irish American Labor (OIAL) - TBD

Guardians of Liberty - Founded about 1911, they were an anti-Catholic organization. Now extinct.

Independent Order of Foresters (IOF) - The IOF was created from a schism of the Ancient Order of
Foresters in 1879. It still exists and acts as a fraternal and benfit organization in the US, Great
Britain and Canada.

Independent Order of Immaculates of the United States of America - The Immaculates were an
African-American fraternal order started in 1872. It has been extinct for many years.

Independent Order of Svithiod - The Order of Svithiod was a Swedish American order founded in
1881. It merged with a life insurance company in 1978.

Knights of Honor - The Knights were a fraternal beneficiary society founded prior to 1877. The
organization is no longer in existance.

Ancient Order of the Knights of the Mystic Chain - Published information states that The Knights
were founded in 1887 in Pennsylvania. Historical documents indicate that they were active prior to
1873. Their rituals were based on the legend of the Knights of the Round Table. They are not known
to be in existence today.

Knights of Malta - Originally founded about 1050 AD and known as the Knights Hospitallers or the
Order of St. John the Baptist in Jerusalem. Thier initial works were to establish a hosptial in
Jerusalem to administer to the Christian pilgrims. After much international involvement, they moved
their headquarters to Malta in 1530. This is where the term the Knights of Malta comes from. Later
the headquarters were moved to Rome where it is located today.

Knights of Peter Claver - The Knights were founded in 1909 as a fraternal organization for catholic
men. Most members are African American. The group is still in existance today.

Knights of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) - The KKK was founded in 1856, died away and arose again in
1915, then died away and was again reborn in the 1950's. It is a fraternal, patriotic and religious
society for white Protestant American-born men with definite racist beleifs, being very anti-catholic,
anti-black and anti-immigrant. Their story is well known in the US and need not be repeated here.
They use swords in theri regalia and are still in existance today.

Legion of Honor - The American Legion of Honor was founded in 1878. It was a fraternal, social and
beneficial society. It no longer exisits.

Modern Woodmen of America (MWA) - The MWA was founded in 1883 as a life insurance and
fraternal benefit society. It is still in existance today.

Order of United Americans - Originally started in 1843 as a "patriotic" organization it disappeared
and reformed in 1896 as a patriotic and beneficial society in Pennsylvania.

Royal Arcanum - The Arcanum was a fraternal benefit life insurance company founded in
Massachusetts in 1877. It is still in existance today.

Knights of the Globe - The Knights of the Globe was a fraternal benefit group founded in Chicagos in
1889. It is still in existance today.
Society of Redmen - Precursor to the Improved Order of Red Men, it was founded in 1813. It is no
longer in existance.

Order of the Society of Cincinatti - The order was founded by George Washinton in 1783 but
disappeared after a few decades. It was revived in 1896.

Military Order of the Serpent - (From George Kane) - The Military Order of the Serpent was a social
society of the United Spanish War Veterans. They dressed up as Filipino natives and new members
were "captured American dogs" The went through this silly ritual in which the captured were
supposively tortured at all their meetings. There was no sword issued by MOS (they would have
used USWV swords) , but the philippine bolo (a large knife or machete) was a part of their skit /
ritual and was featured on their 2nd class badge (2 crossed bolo's on the hanger) and officer bars
(one bolo crossed with the symbol of their office). I don't know if any bolo's were created especially
for the MOS or if any engraved MOS bolo's exist. George Kane Chicopee, MA


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Just for fun ..... Here is a list of "animal" and "vegetable" and other interesting fraternal organizations
that have existed. We are interested in finding swords to any of these organizations:


Ancient Order of Oaks
Order of Bananas
Fraternal Order of Bears
Fraternal Order of Beavers
Exalted Order of Big Dogs
Ancient and Honorable Order of the Blue Goose
Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffalo
Order of Bugs
Order of Camels
Improved Order of Deer
Royal and Exalted Order of Fleas
Order of Houn' Dogs
Benevolent Order of Monkeys
Independent Order of Owls
Order of Owls
Order of Red Eagles
Fraternal Order of Reindeer
Military Order of the Serpent
Patriotic and Protective Order of Stags of the World
Supreme Order of White Rabbits
Order of Yellow Dogs

Society for the Prevention of Calling Sleeping-Car Porters George
E. Clampus Vitus
International Brotherhood of Old Bastards
Pictures will follow.

Copyright 1999 Internet Sword Collectors Association

(The information contained in this website is the property of the Internet Sword Collectors
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Fraternal Swords