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Uniform Rank, Knights of Pythias
the Uniform Rank (UR) was instituted as the uniform branch
of the KoP in the late 1880s, different swords were associated
with each specific rank. There were Knights, Sergeants, Field
Officers,Staff Officers, and Medical Staff with a different
pattern for each group. The officers swords were curved 1870
style sabers with lions head pommels.
All swords from the Uniform Rank have the letters UR somewhere
on the hilts. Swords from years prior to the development of
the Uniform Rank do not have this lettering. For Sir Knights,
the sword is straight bladed with a cruciform brass hilt.
The pommel is a knights head and helmet with a lion on the
top, and there is a chain knuckleguard. The counterguard has
a lily and the letters UR on it. The grip is leather wrapped
with wire. The sergeants swords have a straight blade, a more
elaborate brass hilt with a solid knuckleguard with either
a leather grip with wire wrapping or an ivory grip. Field
officers (Lieut. Capt, etc.) used a curved brass mounted cavalry
saber similar to the US pattern of 1870 cavalry swords. For
staff and Field officers (Colonel and above) the swords were
again straight bladed and had elaborate hilts with ivory grips.
Medical staff used swords similar to the 1840 Army Medical
staff and/or paymasters swords. These had the letters MD for
Medical Department on them, diffentiating them from military
medical swords which have MS for Medical Service. # Knights
sword from the Uniform Rank, Cruciform hilt, knights head
pommel with lion on helmet, gryphon quillon, counterguard
with letters "UR" and a lily, brass mountings, leather grip,
single twist of wire around grip, chain knuckleguard.
The sword company " the M.C. Lilley & Co. Columbus, OH." was
in business from 1882-1925.
Early in the group's history, when a man was inducted
into the Knights of Pythias he received a ceremonial sword.
Such swords might be given to a Pythian by family members,
business associates, or others as a token of esteem. In recent
decades, rather than require each member to own a sword, the
local chapter maintains a collection of swords for use by
its members. Long, narrow swords are generally used in public
during parades and drills, while short swords are used in
Markings on swords varied widely. Most swords were inscribed
with the acronym "FCB," which stands for the Pythian motto
("Friendship, Charity, Benevolence"). Images on swords were
also somewhat common, and included: A man, woman and child
(symbolic of Pythias saying goodby to his family); a man looking
out of a building, with a group of people below (symbolic
of Damon's pending execution); a man between some pillars,
pulling them down (similar to Samson destroying his enemy's
temple); or various types of weapons (swords, axes, hammers,
etc.). A full Knight of the Pythian order often inscribed
his sword with the image of a knight's helmet with a lion
on the crest. Many also carried the image of a sprig of myrtle
(the Pythian symbol of love) or a falcon (the Pythian symbol
Early in the group's history, some Pythians formed the Uniformed
Rank, which adopted military terminology for its organization.
Swords owned by a member of the Uniformed Rank might be inscribed
with the acronym, "UR," a dove, or a lily. (The Uniformed
Rank was banned in the organization in the 1950s.)
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Sword Samples (Images)
Instructions: Rules & Regulations
Knights of Pythias 1904 Book - Drill Regulations - Draw Saber
Swords: Name on blade,
A. Altenhoff - Grand Lodge of California (Archives)
R. A. Henry - Private Collection (CA) - Pythian
George LaForge - Grand Lodge of California (Archives)