The regalia of the Elks (BPOE) used to be much closer to that used by Freemasons. At some point they ceased to wear aprons, and at some point in a later era they took to wearing fezzes. There aren’t enough Elks fezzes out there to suggest that the hats were worn generally by the membership, and those that are found are primarily mid-century and were usually decorated with bullion and the occasional stone and embroidered detail, some are a little later and tend toward the white-cupped stones and patches.
On the other hand, the IBPOEW, the so-called “Black Elks,” had and have a much more extensive culture of fezzes. Their use of the hats is diverse and vivid, their designs are various and often surprising. Both the male IBPOEW-ers and the female “Daughter Elks” have and do wear the fez, very often with highly elaborate use of stones and bullion, a variety of fez colors, and a panoply of tassel colors to convey complex information.
This section will handle fezzes from both organizations together. Spirit of amity and all that!
TAFC.2008.4 ~ BPOE Elks Fez, 1809 Renton Washington
Purple Elks fez with the name Howard O. Epperson stitched into the hatmaker’s tag.
Purple felt, silver tassel.
Elk embroidered in gold bullion thread with rhinestones in the antlers.
in rhinestones set in white plastic bezel cups.
Rhinestone ring 4 stones wide just below the knot of the tassel.
No leather sweat band.
No Elks Lodge is listed for Renton, WA at this time. (http://www.waelks.net/lodges.htm)
TAFC.2008.5 ~ BPOE Elks Fez, 1558, Carlsbad, NM
Purple Elks fez.
Purple felt, white tassel.
Decoration is a series of five embroidered patches. Central patch has rhinestones set in white plastic bezel cups.
TAFC.2009.142 ~ IBPOEW Fez, Tuckyanna No. 1386, Louisville, KY
Purple felt, yellow tassel.
A mixture of metal bullion, rhinestones, and embroidered patch.
Fez reads: “Exalted Ruler, Tuckyanna No. 1386, Louisville, KY”
Rhinestone cups are clear. which I believe may date this fez tot he 50s.
Tassel is gold or yellow, somewhat dingy. A metal band with rhinestones set encircles the top of the tassel, just below where the tassel is stitched to the fez.
Headband is loose and in pieces. No maker’s mark or emblem visible. Interior panel behind lettering, etc is blank black.
TAFC.2010.2 ~ BPOE Elks Fez, Monumenatal 3, Baltimore, MD
Purple Elks Fez with silver tassel and 2-tone bullion lettering and emblem.
Bullion is probably silver (tarnished dark) and coppery or brassy, mixed together to produce a dimensional, decorative effect. A thin, single red thread is stitched in to form the tongue of the elk.
Fez is unvented.
According to their Facebook page, Monumental 3 is the Mother Lodge of Black Elks, founded by Arthur Riggs and William Lewis, among others, in 1900. Lewis was a railroad man and an avid fraternalist, and Riggs had obtained a BPOE ritual. FB history indicates that in the early years growth was slow, as the community assumed the new order to be a sports org, not a fraternal org. Monumental 3 moved to its current home in Baltimore in 1927. By the early 1930s, M3 had 2100 members.