A Whistler Vignette on West Point Plates
It was at the time of the Mexican War that the United States Military Academy, West
Point, NY, first came into its own through the deeds of its young graduates, Lee, Grant
and others, who later became famous in the Civil War. The motif of the West Point
plates design, therefore, is based upon several motifs used on the Academy diploma
which was developed about the period of these students' early bid for fame.
Dominating the plates is the Corps Crest. Balancing it are three cadets in uniforms of
1825, 1848, and 1930. One also finds the arms and equipment of the days of the
flintlock, and the ancient paraphernalia of science, taken from the quaint engravings on
the diploma. The eagle on the Corps Crest finds its counterpart at the bottom of the
design - a mother eagle guarding the fledglings and instructing them in the motto of the
corps, "Duty, Honor, Country."
Two especially interesting plates represent Dress Parade in 1831 and Dress Parade in
The Reverse of each plate bears a vignette of Whistler's "Third Half Hour", done when
he was a cadet at the Academy.
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