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Ceremonial Symbols and Objects

front of badge back of badge

The President's Badge signifies the authority of the chief executive and is to be displayed upon occasions of ceremony. Created in 1981, the badge was the gift of the late trustee Thomas S. Gates, Jr., A.B. 1928, LL.D. 1956.

Round in form, the Badge of the President of the University of Pennsylvania is made of silver and measures four inches in diameter. The obverse depicts the corporate seal of the University, first used in 1756 and adopted in its present form in 1933. The reverse is incised with a representation of the "orrery seal," designed for the University by its gifted alumnus, Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The badge is worn on a silver chain composed of alternating round and oblong flexible links. 

corporate seal

The Corporate Seal of the University, the so-called "pile of books" device, was designed by Provost William Smith and first cut by James Turner, the Colonial engraver. It shows, carried on a slant top desk, a pyramid of seven books, each titled with an academic discipline. Surrounding the books in a semi-circle is the University motto:  Leges sine Moribus vanae (Laws without morals are in vain). The seal, used on all corporate documents, also is found engraved on the University Mace. 


orrery seal

The Orrery Seal, in use as Penn's corporate seal from the time it was drawn in 1782 until 1797 and then again in the years 1823 to 1847, displays the mechanical planetarium—the orrery—made by David Rittenhouse. The creator of the great astronomical instrument, hailed by his contemporaries as Benjamin Franklin's natural heir, Rittenhouse served the University as a professor of astronomy, vice provost, and trustee.  Rittenhouse's orrery, now on view in Van Pelt Library, was probably the most important scientific apparatus in academic use in eighteenth-century America. It proclaimed, in the Age of Reason, the interest of the nation's first university in the exploration of all human knowledge.



inaugural banner

The Inaugural Banner, designed by Penn faculty member Dr. Neil Welliver in 1981 for Dr. Sheldon Hackney's inauguration, incorporates the red and blue interior shield from the arms of the University and, in gold, the orrery seal.  Cut vertically and shifted out of register to create the effect of motion, the shield memorializes both Benjamin Franklin and the Penn family in the founding of Pennsylvania. The banner is designed so that each quadrant can be carried separately.




The Keys to the University, presented to the president as a symbol of office, were last used in the inauguration of Dr. Judith Rodin in October 1994. The three brass keys are part of the collections of the University Archives and Records Center.



maceThe University Mace, the symbol of authority of the University, is carried by the Secretary of the University. It was a gift of the family of William Murray Gordon, M.D. 1910. The Mace is adorned with the seal and arms of the University, the William Penn and Benjamin Franklin family coats-of-arms, a depiction of the Rittenhouse orrery, and a thistle symbolizing the early ties of the University with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The University Mace is exhibited in the display cases on the main floor of College Hall.







  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 8, October 19, 2004


October 19, 2004
Volume 51 Number 8


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