Painted portraits of members of fraternal societies are relatively rare. When the daguerreotype was introduced in the United States in 1839, photographic images of Odd Fellows and Freemasons in regalia increased, although they were still unusual. This daguerreotype shows an unidentified Odd Fellows member standing by a cloth-covered table, a stance typical of studio portraits. The image offers insight into the manner in which the regalia was worn inside the lodge, over the man’s street clothes. Given the tent on his apron, which was probably made out of velvet, he was a member of the Odd Fellows Encampment, a higher degree added in 1827 and open to any members who wished to learn more about Odd Fellows values and lessons.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Unidentified Man in Independent Order of Odd Fellows Regalia," exhibition label for Mystery and Benevolence: Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection. Stacy C. Hollander, curator. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2016.