Motto Mistake

Motto mistake: Baldwin's permanent typo


Duke University Archives

Visitors who view the Gothic splendor of West Campus or the stately Georgian buildings on East Campus often marvel at the precision and craftsmanship of the stonecutters and masons who built the two campuses. While the excellence of their work cannot be denied, one prominent carving in the center of West Campus appears to be a case of mistaken identity.

The portal to the chapel displays statues of three early leaders of the Methodist Church. From left to right, they are:

  • Thomas Coke (1747-1814), superintendent of the Methodist Mission in the U.S. (1784) and bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church;
  • Francis Asbury (1745-1816), superintendent of Methodism in the American colonies (1772) and organizer of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S. (1784);
  • George Whitfield (1714-1770), English Methodist evangelist and missionary.

Right name, wrong man: Stone carvers used as their model a lord justice rather than the bishop Coke


Duke University Archives

While the statutes of Whitfield and Asbury resemble their subjects, that of Coke does not. The clothes worn by Coke do not match the period in which he lived; their style is more Elizabethan than eighteenth century. In addition, the statue of Coke sports a beard, while images of Thomas Coke always have him clean shaven. The stone carvers appear to have used the image of Lord Chief Justice Edward Coke (1552-1634) as their model instead of the Methodist Coke.

In addition, a prominent spelling mistake can be found on East Campus stonework. A close look at the seal above the entrance to Baldwin Auditorium reveals that the stonecutter misspelled the university motto Eruditio et Religio as Eruditio et Edligio. Unfortunately, chisels do not come with spell check.

—Tim Pyatt '81, University Archivist

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