1893 Loring Broadside for the Ancient Order of United Workmen

A.O.U.W. Eternal Truth Justice Honesty and Mutual Aid Our Guide. - Main View

1893 Loring Broadside for the Ancient Order of United Workmen


Setting the standard for employer-sponsored worker insurance.


A.O.U.W. Eternal Truth Justice Honesty and Mutual Aid Our Guide.
  1893 (dated)     26 x 20 in (66.04 x 50.8 cm)


A stunning 1893 Eugene Roncarti chromolithographic broadside for the Ancient Order of United Workmen (AOUW), a fraternal organization that pioneered group insurance coverage for sickness, accidental death, and burial to its members - setting the baseline for modern employer-sponsored insurance benefits.
A Closer Look
This broadside presents several images and slogans to reflect the function and values of the AOUW. Words and phrases appear throughout, mostly variations on themes of love, fraternity, and mutual support. The organization's motto appears in both Latin and English - 'Alterum Alterius Auxilio Eget' / 'The One Needs the Help of the Other.' Christian imagery is also prevalent, with the Bible appearing three times. This broadside is especially significant because it coincides with the AOUW's 1893 embrace of the Temperance Movement, restricting members from selling 'intoxicating liquors,' another sign of Christian influence on the ostensibly non-religious organization.

Other references are more cryptic to a modern viewer but would have been easily deciphered by members. 'CHP' in the middle is most likely an abbreviation of charity, hope, and protection. The organization's logo, including an anchor, shield, and sailboat, are derived from Masonic imagery symbolizing hope and stability. At top, the organization's founding date of October 17, 1868 is noted. At bottom are illustrations demonstrating the benefits of membership, most importantly the payment of a $2,000 death benefit to members families, a considerable sum that was something of a 'calling card' for the AOUW.
The Ancient Order of United Workmen
The AOUW was founded in 1868 by John Jordan Upchurch, a mechanic for the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad who was dissatisfied with existing fraternal organizations. While broad in its aims and initially focused on working conditions, its efforts quickly shifted to providing financial protection and support (via member dues) for its members and their families in times of illness, injury, or death. In fact, the AOUW was the first fraternal organization in the U.S. to offer sickness, accident, death, and burial insurance to its members. At the time, life insurance was still a novelty only available to the affluent, making the AOUW's adoption of such a program highly innovative and influential. AOUW interacted and affiliated with other fraternal organizations, including the Odd Fellows, further enhancing its influence. By 1885, it was the largest fraternal benefit society in the country.

The AOUW also provided a social aspect for its members, organizing events, meetings, and gatherings that allowed individuals from various walks of life to come together, build community, and provide assistance to one another. The organization's first female auxiliary was created in 1873 in Cincinnati and many others were added thereafter.

Though not a Masonic organization per se, Upchurch was a Freemason and imbued the organization with many Masonic elements, including secret rituals, Masonic-like symbolism and regalia, a hierarchical structure of lodges, and orders or levels of membership. As with most such orders, members needed to commit to a belief in the Almighty, but otherwise membership was not restricted on the basis of religious denomination or national origin. The AOUW also expanded quickly beyond mechanics to include members of various trades. Membership was, however, restricted by race, as was common, though not universal, for fraternal organizations and unions of the time.

Over time, as government and employer-sponsored programs and insurance options became more prevalent, the popularity of fraternal benefit societies like the AOUW declined. The AOUW had also become so large that it was unwieldy; in the early 20th century, it replaced its supreme lodge with a Congress and several local lodges broke off to become independent. Around this time, both the religious aspects of the ritual and the restriction on non-white membership were abolished. By the mid-20th century, many of the local lodges had transitioned to become state-level insurance companies, though the organization still exists under its original name and procedures in Washington state.
Chromolithography, sometimes called oleography, is a color lithographic technique developed in the mid-19th century. The process involved using multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, to yield a rich composite effect. Oftentimes, the process would start with a black basecoat upon which subsequent colors were layered. Some chromolithographs used 30 or more separate lithographic stones to achieve the desired product. Chromolithograph color could also be effectively blended for even more dramatic results. The process became extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it emerged as the dominant method of color printing. The vivid color chromolithography produced made it exceptionally effective for advertising and propaganda imagery.
Publication History and Census
This work was drawn by Eugene Roncarti, printed by Bufford Chandler Co., published by the Emblematic Chart Co. (seemingly a Masonic affiliated publisher), and copyrighted to Thomas C. Loring, all based in Boston. It does not appear in the OCLC and is only noted among the holdings of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library.


John Henry Bufford (July 27, 1810 - October 8, 1870) was a Boston based lithographer and printer. Bufford was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He apprenticed as an artist and lithographer at Pendleton Lithography (1825 - 1836) of Boston. In 1835 he relocated to New York where he took independent commissions from George Endicott and Nathaniel Currier, among others. Returning to his hometown of Boston in 1839, he took a position of chief artist with the firm of Benjamin W. Thayer, heir to Pendleton Lithography. He probably married Thayer's sister, Anna Melora Tufts Thayer (1808-1878). Bufford has been highly criticized as an engraver, with one historian, David Tatham, stating he had 'a mediocre sort of craftsmanship at best' and 'no very special skills as an original artist.' We, however, find no justification for this harsh criticism. Instead Bufford gravitated toward business and management. By 1844 Thayer's shop was renamed J. H. Bufford and Company. The firm specialized in decorative sheet music, panoramic views, illustrations for books, retractions of paintings, and commercial printing. Bufford is credited with being one of the first employers and mentors of the important artist and engraver Winslow Homer. Bufford died in 1870, passing on the business to his sons Frank G. Bufford and John Henry Bufford Jr. These young men, operating under the imprint of 'J.H. Bufford's Sons, Manufacturing Publishers of Novelties in Fine Arts', expanded the firm with offices in New York and Chicago. A possibly related lithographic printing firm named Bufford Chandler was incorporated in Boston in 1893. It later relocated to Concord, New Hampshire but closed in 1925 when its state business charter was repealed. More by this mapmaker...

Eugene B. Roncarti (fl. c. 1876 - 1893) was a draughtsman based in Massachusetts. Little is known about his life and training, but he was listed in business directories in Boston in the late 1870s, before relating to nearby Fitchburg by 1881, where he died in 1901. Learn More...

Thomas C. Loring (c. 1859 - 1896) was a salesman based in Boston. Little is known about his endeavors aside from being the holder of a copyright for a broadside published for the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He appears to have died in 1896 at the relatively young age of 37, cutting short his career. Learn More...


Very good. Some edge and verso acid toning. Minor closed, stabilized, and reinforced tear from lower left side extending slightly into printed image.


Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library Special Acquisitions Fund 91.021.