I picked up for a few bucks this Univac security guard’s shield. Like many security badges it’s based on a New York State Great Seal. The proportions are changed and the figures of Liberty – woman holding a Phrygian cap on a stick (well, actually Liberty pole if you want to get technical) and Justice – woman with a sword and scale. There’s sunrise over Hudson inside the shield, but without the two boats. New York State’s motto Excelsior (which is Latin for “Up Your’s”).
The plastic laminated id is kind of cool, because it’s a miniature punchcard.
I guess the manufacturers of rent-a-cop badges are trying to make them subtly similar to NYPD logo, yet different enough not to get in trouble. NYPD badge is based on a similar, yet very distinct New York City Seal. Instead of Liberty and Justice it features American Indian with a bow. The other figure is enigmatic – for the longest time I thought that it was another American Indian holding a dead animal or a tomahawk. In fact, it turns out to be a Dutch sailor holding a “sounding line” – a nautical depth measuring rope. Another useless bit of trivia: Mark Twain chose his pen name from the expression “mark twain”, meaning only two fathoms reading on the sounding line.
The five stars on the chevron are for the five boroughs, the windmill is for the Dutch origins of New York City. The most unsettling part, is of course the Justice scales that rest on top of fasces, a bundle of sticks with an axe inside – the ancient symbol of authority. Along with the swastika, fasces has been marred as a symbol of Fascism, to which it gave its name.