Oct 11, 2005

The elusive Chanco chenille prototype

I originally created my web site to document the emblems and history of Kecoughtan Lodge, and expanded it to include Chanco Lodge when it merged with Kecoughtan to form Wahunsenakah Lodge in January of 1996.

One item that has always seemed to escape my research efforts is the mythical Chanco Lodge prototype chenille issue, also known as the 483 YC1. I first learned of this patch in the Blue Book listings for Chanco Lodge, but no Virginia collector I have ever queried about this item had ever seen one, or knew anything about it.

Turns out I was asking the wrong Virginia OA collectors. I recently asked DeWitt Holland, a longtime Chanco Lodge member, about this patch to find out if it really existed, and was thrilled to find out that not only does it exist, but DeWitt designed it and holds the only example in his personal collection.

DeWitt kindly sent me color pictures of the front and back of the 483 chenille prototype, as well as the historical background, along with the original order form and order confirmation. DeWitt explains why the patch was never produced:
There is only one prototype chenille. I did design the chenille. It was made in December of 1993. It was voted on at the January 1994 Lodge Executive Committee meeting. It was voted down as being too expensive to produce and the majority of the members thought it was just a fund raiser. Its cost would have been $30.00 each and the lodge had never produced anything that cost anywhere near that much. It has 6 colors and a 2 layer yellow felt background. It measures 3 3/4 by 3 3/4 inches.

The 483 chenille was manufactured by the Standard Pennant Company of Big Run, PA, which has been making chenille emblems since 1919 and is well known in collecting circles for many Scout items. It features the standard Chanco Lodge totems (deer and Indian brave):

The reverse of the chenille has a Standard Pennant Company label (SPC Type 11) with a handwritten number which would seem to indicate that more than one exists.

However, the Standard Pennant Company web site explains the notation:
While technology has enabled us to automate part of our production, many of our chenille items are still "handmade" by experienced personnel that consistently reproduce every required detail. All operators identify their own letters with pride. (Check for the operator number on the back.)

While not considered an "official" Lodge issue the 483YC1 is definitely a beautiful patch with a fascinating heritage and I expect I am not the only Virginia OA collector who wishes that it had been produced and sold by Chanco Lodge. One has to wonder how many Lodges in 2005 would pass up the opportunity to sell a patch because they didn't want to issue it only to raise money.