Feb 20th 2016

Eastern Origins of the Coin, aka Salem Motif

Salem merchants in the Golden Age of Sail (1760 to 1820) were the first to travel to the Far East for trade. At one point, people in China thought Salem WAS America because they were the only people China saw. The wealthy merchants prominently featured Chinese designs in their lavish homes.

Symbolism of the Coin Motif

The Chinese coin, a round circle with a square hole in the middle, symbolizes wealth, prosperity, and good fortune. And so it was favored to adorn the front doors top and side lights with this coin motif. This is in line with Chinese superstition and what they do for Lunar new years. They put fake red money around the door way of homes to denote prosperity and good fortune in their coming and going.

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The Chinese Coin becomes the “Salem” Motif

In 1880, MIT architecture students studying historic details focused on Salem and labeled Salem’s ancient China coin architectural motif as the “Salem motif”. This created an even wider pattern of use.

Salem Motif  Choosen as base of our Logo

Being of Chinese decent, I found this to be very interesting and apropros to the design of my logo. I also love the compass rose design and thought it would be a great representation of Salem’s maritime history. So a sketch was formed.

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Design of the Northey Street House Logo

I then brought it to my daughter who was about to graduate from NY’s Parson’s School of Design. Initially, I had a compass needle thru the middle as the diagonal line of the “N”. We hashed over it and debated about the finest of details and the font of course. Finally, she cleaned it up to the bare elegant minimum. When I showed it to a friend who is a sailor, he immediately saw the compass even without the actual representation of the needle. A success!

Representation of the Northey Street House Logo

I’m very proud of our logo as it was a mother daughter effort. It has personal meaning for me being of Chinese decent. It aptly represents the glory days of Salem’s past as global citizens of the world, sailors who navigated the ships with great skills, and shrewd merchants who brought prosperity to this town and put it on the Map for all eternity.

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