We were taken with this simple carving because of the realistic look to the articulated fingers, a more difficult task than the typical flat hand we see more commonly. It measures 8" tall and 4 1/2" wide and was carved from a 1 1/8" thick piece of wood.
The surface is an early, dry brown paint. The back of the hand was left flat and, judging from the condition of the surface, we believe it was originally fastened to a back board. It is currently displayed on a painted stand.
What caught our attention is a small wooden plug in the center of the palm. This suggests that there was something attached here on the original piece. A common ceremonial piece for the Odd Fellows was the "Heart and Hand" representing their philosophy of offering a helping hand from the heart. The growth of the Odd Fellow fraternal order in the United States began in the early 1800's and paralleled the Shaker movement that also used the Heart and Hand symbol to represent their beliefs. We will never know if this hand originally had a heart but, it is a distinct possibility.
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