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The Mystery Of The Eagle At A Post Office

 
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Bedrock Of The Community
United States
12128 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   09:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add wt1 to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Have you ever seen an eagle at a US Post Office that looks like this?



It seems it is something of a mystery as to why the eagle was created that way. The eagle is located at the New Kensington, PA post office. But is it just artistic design in Art Deco style? Or is there some reason for the three arrows in each talon? Was it supposed to be a take-off of the Great Seal of the US, which is similar, yet different? Was it the work of the WPA?

An interesting read for those interested in such things:

http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/y...xzz3CUiTl5Ma
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United States
4738 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   10:40 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add kirks to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here's the Great Seal of the United States (for comparison purposes)



Kirk
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Pillar Of The Community
Romania
886 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   12:57 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Wadmalatz to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Or is there some reason for the three arrows in each talon?

I might be wrong, but in Europe the arrows (2 or 3) were a symbol for telegraph. First hungarian telegraph stamps had 3 arrow in each corner.
From 1889 on russian stamps appeared the arrows too (before that only posthorns). Here`s Michel footnote after 1884:
`Die Posthoerner mit gekreutzten Blitzen (ab Mi 40) symbolisieren den Zusammenschluss der Post- und Telegraphenamter unter der Oberhoheit des Postministeriums` - post- and telegraph-offices are under the same ministry.
On romanian 1957 porto-stamps too appear the same symbol: posthorn with two arrows.

Maybe these arrows stand for telegraph (?)
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
526 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   1:32 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Hieronymus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I'd vote for it simply being Art Deco. Doing 13 arrows in that style would be next to impossible. Making the two talons symmetrical would be a design choice that opens up once one has clarified for oneself that there's no need to try to copy the Great Seal. Art Deco was all about stylizing/simplifying in the name of being "modern" (whatever that meant) while retaining enough hints of older, traditional styles to make the design fascinating. That the heistorian-expert cited in the article knows of only one other like this and that other one is from the same period and in Art Deco style makes, imho, a simple Art Deco explanation more compelling, rather than some deeper iconographic mystery.
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United Kingdom
1187 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   2:46 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Terence Collins to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here is another from the Cotter Federal Building in Hartford, Connecticut. The Eagle, also in art deco style and with three arrows, is placed between two Fascis bundles, the Imperial Roman symbol of power.

Art Deco was an original and distinctive art form of the 1920s, merging traditional craft motifs with machine age imagery. Its major attribute was the embrace of technology.

Terry

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Canada
1324 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   3:18 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add CanadaStamp to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
It's a war eagle. Obviously an (especially) right wing part of the country.
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United States
862 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   6:06 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add raywrio to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Yes that is interesting because the arrows mean war time if the eagles faces in the direction of the arrows. And the olive branch means peace if the eagles faces in the direction branches.

And to CanadaStamp, the building was started in 1932 and FDR was president. So I think that means the leftest wing of the country was in power for the next 16 years.
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Posted 09/06/2014   6:38 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Another "Post Office Eagle:"



This one is described as "Federal Eagle Art Deco frieze over the door of the former Wenatchee Post Office, now the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center." It dates, I believe, to 1938.

Note the arrows on both sides.

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Pillar Of The Community
United States
526 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   7:00 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Hieronymus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I seriously doubt that the designer intended the symmetrical 3 arrows on each side to indicate war. The war-eagle meme applies when you've got an olive branch on one side to provide a choice. In this case I'm inclined to attribute the double three arrows as symmetry in the service of design.

And yes, in the United States warmongering was a leftist utopian-technocrat monopoly from Woodrow Wilson through FDR to JFK and LBJ's Gulf of Tonkin. Even the Bush war-drummers were former leftist neo-cons. Movement conservativism (e.g. the America Firsters before WWII, Robert Taft, paleo-cons etc.) in the United States has, over the long haul, been quite isolationist. One of the earliest and strongest critics of the Bush wars was Pat Buchanan, whose right wing bona fides are well known.

Might be good to stick to stamps and post offices on this forum.
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United States
862 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   7:17 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add raywrio to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Hieronymus,

Good comments and love your art work.
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Bedrock Of The Community
United States
12128 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   7:18 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add wt1 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
How many remember these "Art Deco" type stamps from the early 2000s?



The stamp on the left (57c) shows an Art Deco designed eagle not that far removed from the one on the post office in question; the stamp on the right (60c) shows a less stylistic eagle but does show in his left talon only three arrows. The point is that these design characteristics are not unheard of.

It leads me more to the idea that artistic design played the primary role in creating the eagle in question rather than trying to copy any established work or having any hidden meaning to the design.


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Rest in Peace
United States
4052 Posts
Posted 09/06/2014   9:43 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ikeyPikey to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I think some counting is in order.

TC's Hartford eagle has three arrows & an olive branch, a typical arrangement, set in a circle of 13 stars.

blcjr's Wenatchee eagle has 6+7=13 arrows, for the 13 states. The replacement of the olive branch might result from a simplification of the vignette, if you work backwards: no ring of stars, so we need 13 something, so let's drop the olive branch and use a total of 13 arrows.

wt1's Kensington eagle also has the requisite 13-of-something: the stripes in the breast plate.

Beyond that, I think that the olive branch was replaced with three arrows to serve two aggressively-applied 'principles': symmetry (the only asymmetric object in the piece being the unitary head) and angularity (hard to do olive leaves as diamonds or rectangles).

To me, it looks less like Art Deco and more like ugly Soviet Realism, but that's me.

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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Posted 09/06/2014   10:21 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add blcjr to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
To me, it looks less like Art Deco and more like ugly Soviet Realism, but that's me.
I see that, though I thought of the Nazi Federal Eagle, and the NRA eagle (FDR's NRA, not Heston's) myself. But yea, it does kind of look like "ugly Soviet Realism."
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United States
1010 Posts
Posted 09/07/2014   09:53 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DonSellos to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
My first impression was of the Nazi symbols from the same time period. Not as familiar with the Soviet depictions of state symbols, but I suspect all were influenced by the ArtDeco movement during the 1930s.

The three arrows might represent the three branches of government, i.e. executive, judicial, legislative.

Don
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
526 Posts
Posted 09/07/2014   10:52 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Hieronymus to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Nazism (National Socialists) and Soviet Socialism are cousins. Soviet Realism is one variation on the Expressionism and Modernism characteristic of most European and American art between the two World Wars. Art Deco is another. More refined, less massive perhaps, though I know of plenty of Art Deco buildings in Chicago that are just as massive/un-detailed as the eagles portrayed here. Soviet Realism has become something sui generis not so much because of the style of the art as because of what, in hindsight, we know happened in the USSR. If I landed from Mars and someone showed me all the examples above, showed me a Weimar eagle, a Nazi Eagle, and a Soviet Realist eagle, then showed me portrayals of the eagle on American patriotic materials from 1800 or 1860, I'd certainly see a huge difference between all the 20thc examples, on the one hand, and the 19thc ones on the other.

Since Art Deco was the dominant form of public art modernism in the 1930s in the United States and Soviet Realism was not the dominant form of public art modernism in the US in the 1930s, I think it's reasonable to consider all of the eagles illustrated here variants on Art Deco.

There were a lot of Art Deco style post offices built in that period. I can think of more than one in Chicago.

Just my opinion.
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Rest in Peace
United States
4052 Posts
Posted 09/07/2014   12:16 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add ikeyPikey to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
The three arrows might represent the three branches of government, i.e. executive, judicial, legislative.


Don: I had the same thought, but it did not explain the 3+3=6. Moreover, I think we're both wrong :(

We can read the three branches of government into the three arrows today, but I don't know that this ''meme' goes that far back(eg 18th century), or that it would make sense to express it in arrows.

Hieronymus: yes, all the warrior birds render alike; Mr Franklin favored the turkey.

Follow the design process at http://greatseal.com/ ... thirteen arrows, one for each state.

I was favoring the idea that the reduction to three was a limitation of rendering in stone; but aluminum?

Cheers,

/s/ ikeyPikey
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