Mary Baldwin College

Presidential Medallion, Chain of Office

A distinguishing piece of gold jewelry was designed for Pamela Fox’s inauguration ceremony: Mary Baldwin’s new presidential medallion. Patterned after the college’s 1992 sesquicentennial medallion — and designed by the same artist, R. Daniel Booton of Gum Spring, Virginia — the pendant features the MBC crest on one side and a profile of the Administration Building, complete with the cast-iron dogs Ham and Jam, on the other. The dates of the establishment of the Augusta Female Seminary and its elevation to college status, and the college’s motto “Non Pro Tempore, Sed Aeternitate,” (Not for Time, but for Eternity) appear with the crest.

The chain was also custom designed by Booton to depict oak leaves linked with acorns, symbols associated with the college that convey courage, truth, and strength. The medallion and necklace are gifts to the college from the faculty.

Booton consulted with college marshal Kenneth Keller, professor of history, and others at MBC and drew upon several visits he made to the college while designing the medallion to mark its 150th anniversary.

“Anything like this requires fully understanding the subject,” Booton said. “Doing design work is like writing an essay or a book — you can’t start into it without a lot of research first. You have to understand the school’s history and how it evolved.”

During the past 30 years, Booton and his wife, Mary, have made many medallions and other items for Virginia colleges and universities, including a presidential medallion for Virginia Commonwealth University, a sesquicentennial medallion for the Virginia Military Institute, and a bust of former secretary of state and Nobel Peace Prize winner George C. Marshall for top donors to his memorial foundation at VMI.

The Bootons’ commissions for unique presidential medallions have increased in recent years, reviving a tradition that originated in ancient times, when public officials and others who had authority over property marked official documents with a personal seal. By the 10th century, these seals had become very large — the one King John used to seal the Magna Carta was more than 3 inches in diameter, and heavy. It became customary to wear the seals on a chain around the neck. Norman nobility were among the first to convert the chain into a ceremonial symbol of office. By the Renaissance, chains were worn by all sorts of civic officials such as the Lord Mayor of London and never died out completely in the civic arena.

Mary Baldwin’s president will wear the medallion of office on formal occasions, and it will be displayed on campus when not in use.

Says Dr. Fox: “The medallion will be an ongoing symbol of our strength and tradition, and it is wonderful that this representation of unity and continuity was initiated by the faculty.”

Information provided by
Kenneth W. Keller, college marshal
Dawn Medley, assistant director of strategic communication

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