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Does Anything in this Picture Look Like the Reverse of One of Our Coins?

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14 January 1963 President Kennedy delivers the 1963 State of the Union Address. Vice President Lyndon Johnson and Speaker of the House John McCormack are seen seated behind the President. United States Capitol, House of Representatives Chamber.



It is the Roman "Fasces" on the wall behind the Speaker's Podium

US House of Representatives chamber, United States Capitol


The "Fasces" was a symbol of imperial power in ancient Rome.

A bundle of sticks bound together, it represented the "many bound together as one."



Close up. Take note of Mace in fore ground.


The other night I was watching the movie, The Contender (2000) a Jeff Bridges starring role and saw something in the back ground that spurred this thread. While President Jackson Evans (Jeff Bridges) was speaking before the House of Representatives, a background shot revealed the huge mock-up of a faces hanging on the wall. This got me to wondering if there really was a symbol of this nature in Washington?


I found some other rather interesting items that are also located in the hearing room of the House of Representatives.


Note, "Fasces" is the root where the term "fascism" comes from.


No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

-- James Madison, April 20, 1795







Bronze Fasces


The bronze fasces, used since Roman times to symbolize civic authority, are located on both sides of the U.S. flag. The original Roman fasces consisted of an axe within a bundle of rods, bound by a red strap. The fasces were carried before the consul and were used to restore order and to carry out the punishment of the courts.






The Mace, which is the symbol of the Office of the Sergeant at Arms, is placed by the Sergeant at Arms on a pedestal at the Speaker's right each time the House convenes. The Mace is moved to the lower pedestal of the Speaker's rostrum when the Speaker declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the consideration of legislation.


The Mace consists of 13 tiny ebony rods, representing the 13 original states, and is bound with sterling silver bands. At the top of the Mace is a silver orb, engraved with a map of the world, on which stands a silver eagle with outstretched wings. The current Mace was crafted by New York silversmith William Adams in 1841. The original Mace was destroyed when the Capitol was burned by the British in 1814.


To restore order in the Chamber, the Speaker may direct the Sergeant at Arms to take the Mace from its pedestal and present it before an unruly Member.




Coin Silver Inkstand


The coin silver inkstand on the Speaker's desk is the oldest surviving relic of the House. The origin of the inkstand is unclear, but it appears in portraits dating from 1821 and is stamped with the mark of J. Leonard, a Georgetown silversmith. The tray contains three crystal inkwells and is adorned on both sides by eagle medallions. The feet of the tray are fasces entwined by a serpent, a classical symbol of wisdom surrounding authority.


And there you have it, from movie set to real life examples. I would like to know more about the Bronze Fasces though, when they were made, who made them, etc. Anyone with additional information, please add on.








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If this was the world of "National Treasure," I'd suggest going up to the faces and sticking a merc dime into it. You'd probably see some sort of hidden treasure pop out of the bottom. :)

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You mention that the Fasces appears on the Mercury dime, but it appears on another coin as well. It is also on the Gettysburg half dollar.


The Mace also appears on a coin as well, the Congress Bicentennial dollar.

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