Carved wooden ceremonial axe, and wig, made circa 1870-1880, for the IORM (Improved Order of Redmen). This is a patriotic fraternal organization, founded in Baltimore in 1834, which is said to have its roots in the Sons of Liberty. The Redmen took this name and adopted an according manner of dress because the Sons of Liberty dressed as Mohawk Indians when they participated in the Boston Tea Party.
Like most of the 19th century fraternal groups (the Odd Fellows, the Junior Order of United American Mechanics, the Patriotic Order Sons of America, etc.), the IORM still exists, but its membership pales by comparison to the organization's elder days.
Some of the best 19th century folk art comes from the ritual equipment of these fraternal groups, who had all manner of symbols that were represented in wood, metal, and cloth, among other media. This axe is no exception, with its wonderful form, and at some point in its history it hung as decoration in an IORM hall. This one was discovered in a southwest Wisconsin along with the full clothing regalia of a IORM man. I let the outfit slip out of my hands before I knew its historical significance. All I have left is the axe and the wig.
A remarkable American folk art piece. This axe is 25" long from tip of handle to tip of blade and is made of wood. It is 10 1/4" tall with bit 11 1/4" apart from point to point. Carved and dark stained wooden ceremonial axe.
To Learn More about the Improved Order of Redmen