The use of the mace in formal collegial processions dates from thousands of years ago. In medieval times, the mace was used as a weapon of war or was borne by a royal bodyguard to precede the king in processions. By the 1500s, maces lost their warlike appearance and, decorated with jewels and precious metals, were used more for ceremonial functions.
The ceremonial mace, usually about four feet in length, survives today as a symbol of authority. Notable instances of its use are found in the sessions of the British House of Commons, where it is placed on the treasury table, and in the sessions of the United States House of Representatives, where it is placed to the right of the speaker.
In 1985, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of New York Medical College, Board of Trustees member the Honorable Emil Mosbacher commissioned Tiffany & Co. to create a new mace for the College. The mace was made from walnut wood that was removed from the building, located at the corner of Third Avenue and 20th Street in Manhattan, in which the College was originally housed in 1860. The mace is 42 inches long and contains silver engravings of the College seal on two sides. On the other two sides are depicted William Cullen Bryant, the founder of the College (originally known as the Homeopathic Medical College of the State of New York in the City of New York), and Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathic medicine.