The RCP's silver collection has been used for centuries in our ceremonies and for fine dining. Two of the finest pieces – the 17th century mace and 16th century silver caduceus – are still carried in presidential processions today.
Many key items from our silver and decorative art collection are on display in the Treasures Room in the RCP headquarters. Several are still used during ceremonies and dining occasions today.
Only a few pieces pre-date the Great Fire of London in 1666 because of a robbery the previous year. William Harvey's demonstration rod survived along with Baldwin Hamey's inkstand bell, which is rung every year at the RCP’s AGM. It is believed to be the earliest known piece of English hallmarked silver.
Silver-gilt mace and gold-headed cane
Other significant objects include the silver-gilt mace made by the goldsmith, Anthony Nelme in 1683. It shares the design of the House of Commons mace and is carried today during presidential processions along with the caduceus – the president's symbol of office. The caduceus is a silver rod topped by four carved snakes and inset with the RCP coat of arms. The use of silver indicates that the president should rule with moderation and courtesy, not a rod of iron, while the serpents symbolise prudence.
Finally, the gold-headed cane is a treasured RCP possession. Canes were commonly used by doctors in the 18th century and became a symbol of the profession. The gold-headed cane was handed down over a century to five eminent physicians before being presented to the RCP in 1824.