Last week, the 173rd Commencement exercises at Emory brought the Emory University mace into prominence for me in two ways.
The first came in a question from Joe Moon, dean of campus life for Oxford College and the resident expert on the history of the Oxford campus. He sent the photograph below and asked what the marks on the back of the mace indicate.
I thought the marks had something to do with the manufacture of the mace, and it turns out that, indeed, these are the hallmarks of the London artists who made it. The lion with the tail, second from the left, indicates nearly pure silver (there is also some gold), while the face of the lion next to it indicates that the mace was manufactured in London. The letter i on the far right indicates the date of manufacture, 1964. I’m not certain what the hallmark on the far left indicates, but it may signify the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, who “executed” the mace in silver and gold.
For a short description of how to read hallmarks, here is the website for the Assay Office in Birmingham, UK. This additional link shows the letters that correspond to dates of silversmith production in London from 1956 through 1974.
Eric Clements, of Birmingham, England, designed the mace with the help of George Cuttino, long-time professor of medieval history and the chief marshal of Emory University from 1976 through Commencement 1984. (See this Emory Magazine article for more about the mace.) DVS, the Senior Society, presented the mace to Emory on January 25, 1965, during the convocation marking the fiftieth anniversary of the university’s charter in DeKalb County. The president of the Student Senate at the time, E. Culpepper (Cully) Clark 65C received the mace, and six months later he was the first president of the student body to carry the mace in a Commencement procession—a tradition that continues to this day.
In 1967–68, the student body restructured its governance by abolishing the Student Senate and establishing the Student Government Association (SGA), whose constitution was approved by President Atwood and the University Senate. The first SGA president to carry the mace at Commencement was Walter “Sonny” Deriso 68C 72L.
By happy coincidence, this year Sonny was also the first former president of the student body to march in the Commencement procession with the Corpus Cordis Aureum, the Golden Corps of the Heart—alumni who graduated fifty or more years ago.
Here Sonny shines in his golden robe with (left to right) Bob Goddard, chair of the Emory board of trustees; outgoing SGA president Gurbani Singh 18B; and President Claire Sterk.
Commencement reminds us, as Dooley, says, that “students may come and students may go, professors may come and professors may go, presidents may come and presidents may go, but Dooley goes on forever.”