A Regency period ceremonial mahogany axe
An unusual Regency period ceremonial mahogany axe made from beautifully figured Cuban mahogany. Probably a 'Warden's Axe' connected to the Society of Odd Fellows.
This axe is an exceptional, early example of a 'Warden's Axe' used by various societies to collect donations for charities. The Warden would approach members with the axe held flat like a tray and the square panel in the head of the axe was used for collecting money- rather like a collection basket in a church.
These axes seem to have been particularly associated with the Society of Odd Fellows, a charitable membership organisation that began in Britain but has attained particular prominence in America. Examples of Odd Fellows axes survive in several museum collections and in the collections of various Odd Fellows Lodeges worldwide.
With its sophisticated carved roundel or patera, our example is both a very early and very sophisticated example of this sort of item and is a fascinating piece of social history as well as an intriguing decorative item.
With thanks to Christopher Coles for the extensive research into this item.
The collection of Algernon Rothman Esq., Winchester- a famous collector of Regency decorative arts. Sold in his single owner sale Christie's, London 5th October, 1995, Lot 489.
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