Saturday, October 27, 2012

Philatelic Photograph: John Harvard Statue - Cambridge, MA

John Harvard Statue
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

GPS: N42° 22.474; W071° 07.031

Quick Description: 

The John Harvard statue in the historic Harvard Yard of Harvard University in Cambridge, MA is called "the statue of three lies". 

Long Description:

The famous statue of John Harvard, in front of University Hall, on the campus of Harvard University was the subject of this definitive stamp in the Great American series. The bronze sculpture was created by Daniel Chester French, was given to the college by Samuel James Bridge, and dedicated on October 15, 1884. It now sits in front of University Hall in historic Harvard Yard.

The statue is famous for several reasons. Traditionally, it is supposed to bring you luck if you rub John Harvard's left shoe. It is also known as the "statue of three lies". The statue has a three line inscription on the granite base. Every line is false.


1. The sculpture does not depict John Harvard. There is no known image of John Harvard. So, when Daniel Chester French needed a model for the statue. Sherman Hoar, class of 1882, believed to be the most handsome student at Harvard, was selected. It is the student's face we see on the statue and on the stamp.

2. John Harvard was not the founder of Harvard. He was its earliest benefactor. John Harvard was a clergyman who bequeathing £780 as well as his 400 library of books to the New College. The college then renamed Harvard College in his honor.

3. Harvard College was not founded in 1638 but in 1636. Sixteen thirty-eight was the year John Harvard died.

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