Knights of Pythias, Uniformed Ranks
Lodge Group Photo
This sword is a representative example of a Knights of Pythias society or lodge sword. The Order of Knights of Pythias "is a great international fraternity which was founded in Washington, DC, February 19, 1864 by Justus H. Rathbone..."
The "Fraternal Order of Knights of Pythias and its members are dedicated to the cause of universal peace."
The most distinctive feature on this sword is the "Knight's Head" pommel with a lion patiently resting on - or guarding - the crest. A chain is usually found as a knuckle-guard running from the knight's visor to a phoenix bird on the cross-guard finial (both finials are in the likeness of a phoenix bird). Also, the clamshell on the obverse cross-guard is very distinctive in shape in that it is not a true oval but very near a true clamshell.
The clamshell may also display the letters "UR" (Uniformed Ranks) which was a militant faction of the Knights of Pythias, now disbanded (believed in the 1950s).
On the reverse of the cross-guard is usually found the letters "FCB" (Friendship, Charity, Benevolence).The hilts are cast from a variety of metals but usually the grips are of brown or black leather, wrapped in ornamental brass wire or cord.
They are very ornate in appearance and were not intended for combat.
Fraternal, Lodge, or Society swords are relatively inexpensive to own and are fun to collect.
There are seemingly infinite variations and I have owned many.
Most are marked - usually Lilley, Ames, or Pettibone - and are found in infinite degrees of condition. This particular specimen is from the 1890s.