The chief interest in civic plate centres in the emblems of authority which denotes the position the holders occupy in their city or borough-loyally they govern and rule on behalf of their Sovereign and right royally they give feasts, on which occasions civic plate can be displayed and used. Many of the city maces are of early seventeenth century workmanship, some being of still earlier periods. As symbols of office they are drawn from the battle axe and the mace which was fashioned to break the armour which in later mediaeval days had become of such a nature as to be a real protection against sword thrusts and the arrows of the archer. Many of our ancient things are represented in pictures and more than one historic statue and monument shows a mailed warrior holding aloft a battle mace. Collectors of ancient coins, too, are familiar with the symbols of kingly authority shown in connection with the portrait of the sovereign, who is generally represented wearing emblems of his
kingly authority, and holding either sceptre or mace, battle axe or sword. In course of time the mace lost its utility and it was regarded chiefly as symbolic, and as an emblem it lost its warlike character, for artist and crafts-man combined to give it a more ornate appearance. The mace which represents the emblem of authority in most civic functions has a head of cup-like form which seems to have been very appropriately shaped in those days when mayoral processions ended with convivial feasts. Silver and silver-gilt maces were often very massive, and the cup head grew out of all proportion to the handle ; they soon became inconveniently large. This abnormal head was in course of time covered with a crown or a crown-like arch surmounted with a ball and cross. Most people are familiar with the fine old silver-gilt mace seen on state occasions when the Lord Mayor of London rides in his state coach, richly gilded-itself a relic of medieval pomp. The mace held aloft as a symbol of power has been fashioned by local silversmiths who have incorporated local emblems ; the designers have been careful to identify it with the city or borough for which it has been made. These old emblems of civic power were also often enriched with the royal cypher and arms of the then reigning monarch and thus their approximate dates can now often be identified, and perhaps the importance attached to their use understood. Maces of minor importance have also been made, thus we have the maces of the mayor, the beadle and the tipstaff. The magnificence of the plate varies according to its importance, but its intrinsic value has sometimes been fixed according to the generosity of the donor or the extravagance or the parsimony of the public body who have ordered its manufacture. Symbolic use of such bawbles is all that is left of the once useful mace or battle axe.
As a symbol of authority the Mace of Parliament lies on the table when the Speaker of the House of Commons is in the chair, and when the House goes into Committee it rests on its stand " under the table." London civic authorities, and the several Wards of the City have their maces and staves, most of them being of silver and frequently silver-gilt. Some are extravagantly large and curiously fashioned, their ornament and decoration often having some reference to the place in which they are to be used, or the functions they represent. One striking example of a London mace of this kind is found in the mace of the Tower Ward, a grand piece dating from the reign of Charles II. Instead of the cup-like top, the head is shaped in the form of the Tower Keep, which is in the Ward to which the mace belongs. Another instance of a suitable emblem instead of the stereotyped cup-like head is seen in the mace shaped like an oar, which is an appropriate symbol of one of the old Cinque Ports. Naturally, the ancient maces are carefully preserved by those corporations to whom they belong, and many of the older cities own maces dating back from the Restoration, for one of the Royal fads of Charles II after his accession to the throne was to give new silver maces to those corporations who had lost their ancient plate during the Civil War in the Royalist cause. These maces, now respectably old, are rightly treasured. Some of the newer corporations, too, are the proud possessors of old plate, the gift of patrons fortunate enough to have been able to acquire old examples of these historic emblems. The fine plate so truly representative of provincial civic pomp owned by the city of Cardiff includes two splendid large maces, measuring about 33 inches in length, hall-marked in the reign of William and Mary, 1690, weighing 102 ounces, 12 dwts. In the description of the plate belonging to the Corporation of Cardiff these maces are described in detail. They bear the maker's mark " R. C." in mono-gram, the bowls or cups and their crowned covers have the same maker's mark. The exterior of the cup head is ornamented with national emblems beneath a Royal crown. Thus there is the rose for England, the fleur-de-lis for France, the thistle for Scotland, and the harp for Ire-land. The cross, or orb and cross, which surmounts the maces has been regarded as an emblem of some curiosity. In the description given of the Cardiff Corporation plate by Mr. G. H. Thomas, R.C.A., who is also the Herald Bard of the Gorsedd of Wales, we are reminded that this symbol is frequently said to imply the world dominated by the Cross, but he tells us that the symbol was known centuries before the Christian era in ancient Egypt under the name of the Key of Life. These beautiful maces, illustrated in Figures 37 and 38, are shown with two smaller maces, Figures 39 and 40, which also belong to the City of Cardiff, the latter being of an older date, probably made in the reign of Charles I. We are apt to regard the mace as an ancient emblem having little reference to the present day, and when a new mace is made for a newly constituted borough, it is generally a replica of a more ancient emblem. One of the most interesting functions during the great War was the presentation at the Guildhall in London to Sir Robert Borden, the Canadian Prime Minister, for use in the Canadian House of Commons of a new mace to replace the one destroyed by fire when the Dominion Parliament House was burnt down a few years ago. This new mace incorporated some portions of the old one which had been saved, but it was a handsomer mace and fully emblematical of the present day importance of the Dominion of Canada and the place the Dominion holds in the Empire of Greater Britain. The Canadian mace is ornamented with the rose, thistle and harp, the emblems of Great Britain and Ireland, and surmounted by the Royal Crown. Emblems still serve their purpose, and when Sir Charles Wakefield, on behalf of the Corporation of London, made the presentation, he said that in Canada English traditions would be well maintained, and that that mace would be one more link in the chain which bound together the Motherland and the Colonies.