Chapter 14. MUNICIPAL PLATE

Table of Contents

MACES
SWORDS OF STATE
CIVIC TABLE PLATE

Maces-Swords of state-Civic table plate.

THE term " municipal " conveys, perhaps, rather a narrow meaning to the plate which is rightly associated with the emblems of authority, it will, however, serve. Most of the maces, staves, and other emblems used to-day on ceremonial occasions are but adaptations of what have for centuries been associated with all kinds of regal and civic authority. The King when seated on his throne once deemed it necessary to hold in his hand a sceptre, and in that ornamental emblem showed his authority. The mace so richly decorative, took its rise in a real weapon of forceful service, for the mace is but a fanciful model of the ponderous arm of attack which early warriors wielded with such deadly effect. Civic plate is not altogether confined to such bawbles as maces, staves of office, chains, badges, and other emblems, for many of the older towns possess large stores of plate of more real use and greater ornament. Some of these valuable possessions are held by ancient right ; they are emblems indicating the authority exercised through-out many centuries. Others although ancient are the gift of mayors and councillors, and of wealthy land-owners ; some, too, being the gifts of Royal patrons, adding to the dignity of the table on which they are displayed, and forming special attractions when the civic plate is laid out for inspection.

Lord mayors, and mayors of minor towns, dress in civic robes, replicas of those worn in ancient times, and they wear chains and badges, thumb rings and other mystic pieces of the goldsmith's and silversmith's art-but these things constitute civic jewellery rather then civic plate. Sword bearers and mace bearers carry these massive emblems before the Chief Magistrate in civic processions and when holding high functions. By these emblems the representatives of the people are distinguished. The plate of many of the more important corporations consists chiefly of the magnificent pieces added from time to time in commemoration of office ; of these gifts there are caskets, dishes, bowls, centrepieces and loving cups, and in some instances ancient salt cellars.