The Society's seal and three photographs

Virtual Museum

The Society's seal The Society's seal was engraved by Mr. Wyon, of the Royal Mint, from a design by Mr Howard RA. It was presented to the Society by our first President, Sir John Edward Swinburne, Bart. "On the field," continues G.T. Fox, from whom this information is drawn, "is represented the figure of a female, seated on the fragment of an Ionic Column, opposite to an altar found near Newcastle, and inscribed LAMIIS TRIBUS." Fox illustrates his note Synopsis of the Newcastle Museum, 1827 with an impression of Bewick's engraving after Wyon's seal. Around the rim is inscribed in Latin "The seal of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne 1813", the date being the year of the Society's foundation, and below SCRIPTA MANENT: the written word remains.

The seal itself used formerly to be placed on the desk before the President at every monthly meeting, but it is the woodcut made from it by Thomas Bewick, and used for printed versions, that is more familiar, as it is ordinarily used as our device on publications of the Society. The Bewick block itself is too worn to be suitable for use. The impression in Fox's Synopsis would be made from the block in a very early state, but is rather richly inked, so that there is some filling-in of finer detail. The point of the quill-pen, for example, is lost, though doubtless there in the block as a very fine stroke.

The Bewick block was replaced with one that appears in Archaeologia Aeliana, New Series, vol vii (1876). This is not signed, but may well have been engraved by R B Utting of London, who did much work for the Society at that time. It is not so finely hatched as the Bewick version, and the lettering is stiffer, but it is easier to print and it has a point to the quill.

The Bewick seal should ordinarily be used only at the size at which he engraved it. As need has developed in recent years for very small reproductions of the seal to go on the spines of publications, it became necessary to have a more open version, free of fine hatching and with chunkier lettering. This was drawn very sensitively by Edmund Swift.

John Philipson (amended Sue Ward 2013)

In the future, don’t forget your past