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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Curious Curator – Of Seals and Logos


Ciry_of_Naperville_LogoSymbolism is a powerful tool used to tell a story. Attaching a wax symbol to seal a document is an ancient custom used to legitimize or validate the document and its purpose.

In 1857, Naperville was incorporated as a village with the State of Illinois. The 26-year-old community elected its first officers and created a seal used to emboss important documents. The municipal code states, “The City Clerk shall seal and attest all contracts of the City, and all licenses, permits and other documents which require this formality. The Clerk shall be the custodian of the City Seal and shall affix its impression on documents whenever this is required.” (Section 1-6B-4)

On July 28, 1865, Naperville attorney and then City Clerk, James M. Vallette submitted a bill in the amount of $6 for the purchase of a Seal Press for Village. These presses were small cast iron frames with a lever used to depress a carved lead seal to emboss paper.

Most official seals are carved with mottoes (sometimes in Latin) and symbols depicting various patriotic, civic, regional or symbolic meanings. On the Seal of the City of Naperville, two images are prominent: a shield and an anchor.

Traditional heraldry assigns the shield as a symbol of protection and the anchor a symbol of hope – both sentiments worthy of a fledgling settlement.

The current logo and flag were created by the Community Appearance Advisory Board on January 21, 1974. The board’s goal was to capture the spirit of Naperville and its amenities in a simple, easily recognized way. The large tree in the center of the logo “symbolizes Naperville’s trees, parks and green spaces.” The object that appears to be a boat to the left of the tree actually “represents the low profile of Naperville’s housing and industry.” The wavy lines below the tree represent the DuPage River.

According to a February 6, 2005, article in the Naperville Sun, the steeple-like tower symbolizes the “role played by community churches.”

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Bryan Ogg
Bryan Ogg
Bryan Ogg is a local historian and curator of local legend, stories and lore.