American history

Seal of approval

The American Antiquarian Society, located in Worcester, MA, aims to collect, preserve, and make accessible “one of every item printed through 1876 in British North America, or what became the U.S., Canada, and the West Indies.” Recently, through investigation and valuable side-tracking, Abby Hutchinson, the Editor of the Soceity’s newsletter, did some interesting research on the offical Seal the society uses in their publications and branding. Caroline Sloat, Director of Book Publishing, comments on Ms. Hutchinson’s findings on the AAS blog and discusses how a simple interest can uncover a breadth of knowledge. 

The motto that appears on the seal, “nec poterit ferrum nec edax abolere vetustas,” is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (Book 15, l.872), and when combined with line 871, reads “Now I have completed my work, which neither sword nor devouring Time will be able to destroy.” Thomas’s choice of a text seems to speak for itself—or does it? It can be considered a sign of his anticipation of a secure future for the Society, but these lines might also have held special resonance that might not have come from reading Ovid’s narrative poem.

If you’re ever in Massachusetts and fancy a lovely walk, do head over to the AAS in Worcester. Their enthusiasm and aptitude for preservation and teaching others the value in primary-resource research is encouraging and infectious!