Pieces of the Past

To find the phrase in Latin, Ned Beach’s artist called a lady friend who taught at the nearby Connecticut College for Women. She dictated it to him over the phone. This brings us to the moral of the story: Always say, “S as in Sam” or “F as in Frank.” The plaque was cast with a nonexistent Latin word, sactum. It should be factum. The mistake was caught just in time to avoid international embarrassment, and a corrected plaque was made and presented to Spain. Meanwhile, six plaques (including the one seen here) from the original incorrect molding were cast for various recipients. Those rare six are the naval-relic equivalent of the infamous “Inverted Jenny”—the 1918 U.S. postage stamp with an upside-down airplane. Sometimes, it’s the mistake that makes a piece of the past all the more prized.

—Eric Mills



Conferences and Events

WEST 2019

Wed, 2019-02-13 - Fri, 2019-02-15

Sharpening the Competitive Edge: Are We Ready to Compete, Deter, and Win Globally? Wednesday, 13 February - Friday, 15 February...

2019 U.S. Naval Institute Member Event

View All

From the Press

13 December - Book Talk & Signing

Thu, 2018-12-13

J. Michael Wenger

13 December - Book Talk & Signing

Thu, 2018-12-13

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 140 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership