Words of Wisdom From the Big Apple


I am posting this with permission from the author, Gene Berman. A recent discussion on Patch-L was in regards to what constitutes a name/number set. Gene’s answer taught me a lot about the subject and I wanted to preserve and share his response so here it is for anyone in the hobby to read. His email is geneberman@verizon.net if you wish to respond to him directly. You are always welcome to post a reply on the discussion board as well!


Every so often this topic comes up and to those who are veterans of the hobby, its once more around the mulberry bush while to newbies it’s a topic of great relevance in deciding how to collect Order of the Arrow stuff. The bottom line is now, as its always been in this hobby, that if you want to collect something with precise rules, catalog ability, and uniform agreement you need to find another hobby such as coins, stamps etc. where there is one issuing authority and uniformity. For those of us who have been collecting for years we realize that because there is no such authority we each have to choose from column ?a?, column ?b? etc. to make our collection. My experience has been the happiest people in the hobby are those that choose what they will collect, stick to it and go about getting what they want without regard to how someone else wants to regulate everyone else?s collection. The ultimate ?Debbie Downers? of collecting are those who would try to delegitimize and devalue items they do not have and in a sense, try make them go away?.because they never do. I suppose the same could be said for those that try to hype and over value patches, but they are not ?Debbie downers? as much as sharks in the water. Having said that, there are certainly some patches with more provenance than others. The hobby owes a landmark thanks and appreciation to Albertus Hoogeveen for his Arapahoe and Bill Topkis for his Blue Book along with the many contributors to both. While even in these books, there is much to argue and discuss and agree or disagree with, still, they organized the hobby to a reasonable standard of what is out there.


Now the next question becomes, How does one decide what to collect. Traditionally, a number set through 1972 or thereabouts was represented by one number from each lodge that had been chartered. In most cases, most people wanted the flap or solid and if there was a restricted patch and trader most people wanted the restricted patch. Note that I said most, not all. Some were happy with any patch from the lodge regardless of shape. Some were fine with the trader flap while others sub-specialized to only want the first flap, or a mint version. But most people were happy to have one flap, the restricted one in mint condition if that was possible and something less until they could upgrade to that goal. In 1972 or thereabouts, for the first time, a number was reissued to a lodge that had no connection to the original lodge chartered to that number. Previously, when two lodges merged the new entity owned both numbers and generally used the lower number while retaining rights to the higher number as well. It was Lodge 8 which originally was chartered to Philadelphia Council at Camp Biddle and now was issued to the Wisconsin lodge merger of 523/153 to form Mascoutens. Since then many numbers have been re-issued. For those that want a complete number set, it doesn?t matter if you have a 155R Michikinaqua or a 155 Nisqually patch. In fact, for those who want flaps, the former never had a flap, just a 3 inch round worth around $5000. The latter of course exists today and has had a number of flaps. Some who wanted to refine their collections, purists to some, only wanted the original issuing lodge in their collection. Those collections are called Traditional number sets as these folks collect the original traditional numbers and not what some call the Johnny-come-lately reissue numbers. But just like the earlier days when you had to decide if your patch had to be mint, or if only the 90S1 (restricted to 1/life at brotherhood) would do or an S-2 common trader would work for you today?s collector in addition must decide if he wants a traditional set or if he would be satisfied with any patch that has the number to fill the slot.


For those that want both, well now you come to the name/number sets and they are even trickier than the above. Its likely that somewhere down the line, just about every lodge that ever existed had Something? Now I am not saying a patch but a metal talisman, a bear or deer claw, a leather breech cloth, as well as the more traditional patches, neckerchiefs and neckerchief slides. Of course finding these items and proving these items to be an official item of lodges long gone is often a monumental task. Furthermore, there are a number of hybrid patches in the hobby. Patches that have had multiple uses. There are patches that were camp patches but had an arrow added to them to become that lodges official patch. Other patches have had their origins in preOA societies and simply transitioned into OA when OA came to that council. You may decide to only collect those items that were pure OA patches made for the OA and nothing else or you may try to make your collection more inclusive by accepting into your collection official OA


Most people through the years have narrowed down their collections to collect items that would fit in a book or frame. Therefore patches were always collected in name/number sets. Most also accepted neckerchiefs if there were no patches for the reason presented above. Most also accepted those neckerchief slides such as material and leather that could be mounted in a frame or book while not collecting things that could not be so mounted such as wooden slides, mugs and steins, large pins etc. But remember, I said most. Many people did and do collect OA items that do not fit in books or frames. I am just giving an outline after collecting 45 years of what I know most people to collect. You have to choose how to limit or not limit your collection.


So Tico, et al, you will never get exactly what you want which is a clear clarification of exactly what is accepted as a complete name/number set as there just is not one clear authority who rules patchland and can make those decrees. Blue book has made it a bit easier by classifying most items as official where there is adequate evidence to call them official OA. While I personally disagree with the editors on some of the ?Y? issues, the ?Y? category was created to list items that might or might not be considered official OA but no substantive evidence exists to confirm or deny them official status.

As to my own name number set I have collected one flap from every lodge, restricted and trader if relevant, and odd shape, neckerchief, flat slide if no flap was issued. I have collected all names associated with all lodges as again flap, odd shape, neckerchief, flat slide. I never collected first flaps (but I sure should have?stupid me). I even collected the ?Y?s? and while I am missing one or two of them, I still consider my collection complete as I have all the official issues as defined by Arapahoe, Blue Book and their editorial boards. Since you listed six names below I will give you my opinion and rationale for collecting them. Some of you may not agree. But it?s a small hobby with a big tent. Live and let live.




[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]Juniata-[/B][B] based on the wonderful research of Dr. Hal Yocum (his boyhood lodge), personal interviews with a couple of 103 members, and corroboration by folks in the council such as Dr. Bud Barnish, Fred McClain and the fact that I have seen the charters showing the lodge as Juniata I am convinced this is a real name. Blue book calls it official and I concur.[/B][/COLOR][/FONT]
[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]Tahawus- I did some of the early research on this. I got mine from an attendee to the 1952 NOAC and he said that the lodge issued the yellow neckerchief for that purpose. They also used their Yonkers Council patch for OA ID but I would not call the latter an OA patch as they did nothing to modify it in any way. Others since have verified my findings and both Blue book and I agree this is an official issue. If you collect neckerchiefs you would want to include this. [/B][/COLOR][/FONT]
[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]Tana-wis-qua- I got my original first one discovered from Florida and it was a big fat ?Y?. Research in the Gennesse area located two more OA members who remembered but didn?t have the neckerchief and confirmed it has been used for the 1952 NOAC (no relation to Tahawus). However, research by Bill Topkis finding another example in a frame by someone who owned it and also went to the 1952 NOAC confirmed what I had found out. If you collect neckerchiefs you would want to include this?BTW one at first glance would think the name is Indian. In fact it?s the syllables of what their three districts were.[/B][/COLOR][/FONT]
[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]Ne-Pah-Win- I have never met anyone who didn?t accept this for exactly what it is. An event neckerchief slide (leather)with the original name of Lodge 161. If your collection is inclusive to collect event items and leather slides that can fit in a book or frame you would want this but if you don?t collect slides or accept event items if nothing else exists, you would not want this.[/B][/COLOR][/FONT]
[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]Ellini- Evidence in my opinion is sketchy. I originally went after mine thinking it was a Waramaug chapter (Lodge 24) as it was very similar. Destry Hoffard enlightened me as to what it actually was (from Bellville, IL area). Its probably an OA item but I obtained it on speculation. I believe blue book has it correct as a ?Y? with verification pending.[/B][/COLOR][/FONT]
[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]Stanford- Bill Topkis/Jeff Morely make a compelling case. I have no independent evidence but obtained one from Jeff for a 214X1 believing the evidence met the ?preponderance of the evidence? standard if not the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. How?s that for a dentist spitting out legal tgerms.[/B][/COLOR][/FONT]

[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]From the Big Apple,[/B][/COLOR][/FONT]
[COLOR=navy][FONT=Arial][B]Gene Berman[/B][/COLOR][/FONT]

By jason on May 28th, 2009 at 3:52 am

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