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ID number:  BIRRC-A0601
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Unknown
Title / Object name:  Heraldic Shields from Mason Science College
Object type:  Sculpture
Culture:  British
Date made:  c. 1870-1880
Materials:  Carved stone

The University of Birmingham, founded in 1900 by Joseph Chamberlain, plays a prominent role in higher education across the world. In its seedling form, however, the University grew out of the vision and enterprise of Sir Josiah Mason, who endowed and supervised the construction of his Science College in Edmund Street, Birmingham, decades earlier. Josiah Mason came from modest beginnings, which influenced his desire to create a college ‘easily available to persons of all classes, even the humblest.’ Making his fortune as a manufactuer of pen-nibs, he was an enthusiastic philanthropist, and founded an orphanage in Erdington. He was knighted in 1872. In 1880, Sir Josiah Mason’s Science College took its first students. The façade was decorated with Mason’s mermaid crest and the carved shields which are installed here. They represent the heraldic shields of the region, Kidderminster, Worcester, Birmingham and Warwickshire.

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