From The Archives

From The Archies

A Monthly feature highlighting our Archives


July 2023

Embossed Coat of Arms


Included for your viewing are two accessions from the archives. To the right is an embossed Theta Delta Chi coat of arms. The coat of arms was officially adopted in 1910. These large format sheets are in the collection as stand-alone items and can be seen embedded in various proclamations hung at the Central Fraternity Office. This close-up shows the details of the crest and the ornate supporters.

The second is a printed description of a proposal for the heraldic design and symbols used in the crest of the Fraternity. It is unsigned and undated. The design of the crest you see differs from the description. At the 52nd Convention in 1900, a three-person committee was appointed to prepare a coat of arms. The proposal includes a written description of each quarter of the design from Richard B. Lockwood, the well-known Heraldic and College Engraver.

The pages also reference a letter that hung in the N.Y. Graduate Club. That letter inspired Letters in Egypt, a story published in the Shield Vol. 8 on page 42. In the story, a brother is at the Astor House, the old headquarters of the Fraternity, and recaps his visit to the largest pyramid in May of 1858, where after going into the upper chamber sees in huge letters, “the three letters which fire our hearts on all occasions, TDX.” While some may have interpreted this claim literally, it is more likely that the letters were not in the largest pyramid. Rather, the characteristics of the tombs were emblematical of what he saw the Fraternity to hold—reverence for age, history, and the eternal. Included in the proposed heraldic Blazon first is a "A sphynx and pyramid proper." They were selected in "an attempt to symbolize our own legend."

The coat of arms was officially adopted ten years after the committee was charged with preparing a Fraternity coat of arms. Many of the distinctive elements changed.

Below is an excerpt from the 16th edition of the Theta Delta Chi Handbook that contains the formal description of the 1910 coat of arms.

The emblems surrounding the ruby were at one time enumerated during the presentation address read to the President of the Grand Lodge, at the time of his taking office. The address is no longer a part of the installation ceremony, having been replaced by a ritual whose content is limited to initiated members. The following quotation is taken from the last presentation:

"This is an emblematic monogram containing the insignia of our beloved Fraternity. Its colors black, white and blue symbolize secrecy, purity and loyalty (the same is true of the flag and pledge pin). The diamonds surround the ruby, the emblematic gem of our Brotherhood; their splendor and brilliance symbolize the infusion of new and prosperous life into our Association through your earnest and conscientious personal efforts while you are at its head. May the stars and the lamp, typifying the light of nature and the light of art, represent the thoughts which hereafter are to guide you. The arrows and swords, the forces which you may be called upon to use to protect the members of our (sodality) from those who are hostile to its existence. The open book must again remind you of the necessity of earnestly guarding our Constitution from profane eyes."

"May the skull and bones admonish you of the always existing secrecy that necessarily surrounds the proceedings connected with the initiations into our honored Brother-hood, whereby we distinguish those who have been deemed worthy and well qualified beyond all others to wear the emblems of our dear-to-heart Fraternity."

"May the fasces and clasped hands recall that fact that upon you pre-eminently of all members of the Society is imposed the duty of ever maintaining the harmony in the organization."

"The motto is taken from Homer’s Iliad." It is pronounced homophrona thumon ekontes, and in idiomatic English translates as Our hearts are united."

 1841 coat of arms Page 1
 1841 coat of arms Page 2s
1841 coat of arms Page 3



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