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Photograph, Documentary, Bald Head Club of America, Hartford, Group Portrait, 1923


Bald Head Club of America
Hartford, Connecticut: May 8, 1923
Mounted black and white photograph
6.25 x 11.5 inches, photo
7.5 x 14.5 inches, mat

Approximately 70 members of the Bald Head Club of America pose for a group portrait in front of The Heublein Hotel in Hartford, Connecticut. This humorous fraternal organization was founded in Connecticut in 1913, and counted some prominent citizens among its membership including its founder John Rodemeyer, editor of The Greenwich Weekly News and Graphic; former Speaker of the Assembly James F. Walsh; and Judge Leonard J. Nickerson, also a state representative. A New York Times article in the spring of 1921 gives a playful account of a presentation by Rodemeyer, then president of the group, to the Connecticut General Assembly, in support of a bill giving the Bald Head Club the right to issue charters and establish branches nationally so that “groups of bald-heads in other States…might be united in a common bond of hairless brotherhood, that every city and town might some day have its own club of happy individuals with shining pates and smiling faces.” The legislators approved the bill, which was duly reported in a follow-up article in the Times.

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John Rodemeyer (c. 1859-1943), a newspaperman who was himself bald, founded the Bald Head Club as a publicity stunt to promote a novelty postcard of six bald men parodying a popular photograph of the Seven Sutherland Sisters, a Victorian family of women known for their extremely long hair. Rodemeyer’s announcement of the club’s founding was picked up by newspapers around the country who carried the story along with the entry requirements: a bald patch of at least three inches in diameter, good character and payment of a dollar entry fee. In its early days, Rodemeyer made up stories about meetings, but eventually an actual group formed that would hold an actual annual banquet in Connecticut, and chapters sprung up around the country. The organization humorously parodied the lofty language and symbols used by other fraternal organizations with a logo featuring a bald eagle and tongue-in-cheek references to the Knights of the Gleaming Skull and pronouncements such as, “The Bald-Head Club of America is dedicated to the proposition that Man, in his highest type, is not, primarily or necessarily, a fur-bearing animal, like the otter, seal, beaver, plush, Welsh rabbit or mock-turtle.”

Condition: Photo generally very good with the usual light overall toning and light wear near title. Photo mounted on stiff card mat as issued. Mat good, slightly warped, with usual toning and wear, some chipping to edges, and light staining — all can be matted out when framing.


“Aid Bald Head Club: Connecticut Legislators Approve Bill Making It World Wide.” New York Times. 27 May 1921. Online at (23 May 2011).

“John Rodemeyer Forms the Bald Head Club of America Off the Top of His Head.” New England Historical Society. 2021. (26 August 2022).

“Legislators Merry Over Baldheads.” New York Times. 7 April 1921. Online at (23 May 2011).

Additional information


20th Century