This is a quick and tiny monument to all the guys of DeMolay.
DeMolay is pretty small here in New Mexico, but it is growing, and I’m glad to see it. It is a very cool fraternal organization, for young men aged 12-21. I won’t go into the specific ideas and precepts here, even as little as I know and understand about them. Ultimately, DeMolay is about giving young men a foundation of ethics, morals, civic mindedness, and respect for fellows and family. If you are interested in knowing more, check out links at the bottom of the page. Here, instead and of course, are a few pieces from my collection that come from DeMolay.
One very handy (and kind of odd) thing about The Order of DeMolay for Boys, at least from the collector’s point of view, is that the emblem of the order has changed several times. These changes are well documented, and we know when they occurred. Thus, we can get rough dates of DeMolay objects based on the emblem design they carry. Simple. Frank Land, or “Dad” Land as he was called (adult advisors and chaperones in DeMolay are given the simple honorary title of “Dad”), was the founder of the organization in 1919, with an original compliment of 9 young men. The name comes from the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, who was executed in 1314 for defying the pope and recanting his admission of heresy, which had been secured through torture. The style and schtick of the order revolves around knighthood, and the honors and responsibilities attached. Thus, the emblem of the order has always been heraldic.
There are ten pearls on the shield of the original emblem, which were changed to rubies as each of the 9 original members and Dad Land passed away. (The first to be lost was one of the young men, killed in an accident in 1921.) Far more sweeping were the general changes made to the emblem by Land himself. He was personally interested in heraldry, and probably took great relish and pride in designing and developing the sigil of his order over the years. The first revision came in only the second year of the organization! It was followed by another in 1932, and the current version, which has lasted since 1949, and will probably never be changed again. At least for the first 30 years of the organization, however, you can nail down the period that an object comes from based on its emblem. After ’49, it opens a up a little wider.
Just as it has had several designs of emblem, so has some of the regalia of the order changed over the years. Surely it will come as a massive surprise to anyone who follows this blog to hear me say, “And they wore fezzes!” At one point, anyhow. Back in the 1920s-early 30s, officers (at least, I don’t know about the general membership) wore a couple of different hats. I know this because I have them in my collection. At various turns, and perhaps even overlapping, chief officers wore fezzes, and they also wore Scottish Rite-style caps. Again, I can see that the periods represented by these hats either abut or may even overlap, because of the use of the 1920-1932 emblem on them.
Links to DeMolay Information: