I recently found a piece of jewelry that led me to learn a little about the Brotherhood of the Paternal order of Elks (BPOE). The order started as a New York City social club in the 1860s but quickly began to focus on charitable work, not only to support members during times of hardship but also to help folks in the community. Today the Elks have almost 1 million members and thousands of lodges all over the country.
The emblem of the organization is the elk, which beat out the buffalo by a single vote in 1868. The Elk is always pictured with a clock, as the eleventh hour holds special significance for the group. If you see this motif on jewelry, you may assume that the piece was made for a member of the order. Since membership was closed to women until the 1990s, this means that all vintage BPOE jewelry is men's. In the early 1900s, popular pieces included collar and lapel pins, rings, watch fobs (sometimes made of Elk's teeth), buttons and calling card cases. That’s what I’ve got!
I think my case dates to the 1920s. It is beautifully etched and looks like it's plated with rose gold. The elk's head and clock insignia is affixed to the case in high relief. Inside there are little holders to secure the calling cards. Originally, this probably held calling cards (or possibly stamps) and was worn as a fob - I wear it as a pendant. Here is mine . . .
+ an example from Eureka I found it . . .
+ a great sterling one available from Love Lalique on Etsy . . .
+ a nice piece from Artes Trouveaux on Ruby Lane.