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Libraries and Collections

Shields, Seals, and Printers' Marks

Shields and Seals

The following stone shields and seals are found over the front entrance to the main library and in the lobby.

Outside over the front door to the left is Oxford.  To the right is Cambridge.  Higher across the middle are (left to right) Yale, Vassar, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Smith, and Harvard.  Inside the lobby over the front door are Cambridge and Bryn Mawr.  Over Room 145 are Oxford and Smith.  Over Room 132 are Yale and Wellesley.  Over Room 133 are Harvard and Vassar.  In the lobby over the fireplace are Bryn Mawr, Smith, Wellesley, Vassar and one additional shield (wavy horizontal bar with three stars, sun face in upper left corner) which is the personal shield of Mrs. Thompson.

  1. Harvard: Shield with the word “Veritas.”
  2. Yale: Shield with an open book with the words "Lux et Veritas."
  3. Cambridge: Gules, on a cross ermine between four lions passant guardant or a Bible lying fesseways of the field clasped and garnished of the third, the clasps in base.
  4. Oxford: Azure, on a book open proper, leathered gules garnished or, on the dexter side there of seven seals of the last, between three open crowns of the same words “In p’ncipia erat verbu. et verbu. erat apud deu.”
  5. Bryn Mawr: The shield shows a castle made up of two connected gothic towers.  Bryn Mawr reports that they used a shield with one gothic tower, representing their library, before 1903 when they adopted a shield with three owls.
  6. Smith: Shield illustrated with the Virgin taken from the painting “The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables” c. 1678 by Bartolome Esteban Murillo.
  7. Wellesley: Shield illustrated with the labarum, an abbreviation of CHRESTON, (meaning “a good thing”) was used in Greece to mark an important passage.  This seal was adopted in 1882 and retired in 1917.
  8. Vassar.
  9. Mrs. Thompson’s personal arms.

Printers' Marks

Andre Wechel - printer's mark
In addition to the shields and seals, there are printers' marks in the windows of Thompson that are representations of those used by printers from England, Alsace-Loraine, Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, and Scotland during the 15th and 16th centuries. A list of the Printers' Marks, brief biographies of the printers, and descriptions of each mark and its location in Thompson Library are available through Vassar College's Digital Library Printers' Marks collection.