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Fireplace tiles

A seldom-seen feature of the original Library is the fireplace which dominates the north wall of 191 Library. Decorative ceramic tiles designed by Henry Chapman Mercer adorn the chimney breast and mantel frieze. Subjects were selected from his series "Tiles of the New World" to depict the theme of "reaching out into the unknown." The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works of Doylestown, Pennsylvania executed the work for the new Library building in 1925. Titles of the individual fireplace tiles are:

Chimney breast
El Dorado tile El Dorado - the fabled city of gold and riches sought by early Spanish explorers of South America. (Tiles of the New World no. 8)
Mantel frieze left to right
Avalon tile Avalon - the island paradise of Celtic mythology. The fairy Morgana lived here where King Arthur's sword was supposedly forged, hence the name "Morgana" on the central tower. (Tiles of the New World no. 19)
Landing of Columbus tile Landing of Columbus - a Native American in feather headdress and girdle exchanges gifts with Columbus. On the ground between them rests a large basket of fruit from the New World. The design is after an old engraving. (Tiles of the New World no. 7)
Plus Ultra tile Plus Ultra - a ship sails between columns denoting the Pillars of Hercules at the east end of the Strait of Gibraltar, the gateway to the unknown. The motto, on banners coiled around the pillars, translates as "More Beyond." (Tiles of the New World no. 4)
Departure of Columbus tile Departure of Columbus - the explorer is depicted in armor and plumed helmet beside his three ships in the left arch of this double-wide tile. At the right, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain give their blessing to the voyage. Putti recline in the spandrels above the figures with the abbreviated motto "Plus Ultra." Mercer's source for this design was a 16th century engraving by Theodore De Bry. (Tiles of the New World no. 3)
Making Arrow Heads tile Making Arrow Heads - an original design by Mercer of a Native North American tool maker. A beaver skin rests on the artisan's lap as he chips away at a stone. A stack of finished arrow points may be seen to the left. (Tiles of the New World no. 41)
Worshiping the Sun tile Worshipping the Sun - Native Meso-American priests stand on the steps of an outdoor temple offering a sacrifice of fruit as they worship the sun. The source for this design was an old engraving. (Tiles of the New World no. 14)
Fountain of Youth tile Fountain of Youth - an elderly Spaniard is offered a cup of the fabled youth-restorative water by a Native American. The scene is framed by a lush banana plant on the right and a bountiful fruit tree on the left. The Latin inscription winding around the flowing water reads: "Aet juvent fons." (Tiles of the New World no. 10)
Norumbega tile Norumbega - the name applied by 16th & 17th century map makers to an undefined region along the eastern coast of North America north of Florida. Native Americans wearing elaborate plumed headdresses and robes are set against buildings of exotic architecture. (Tiles of the New World no. 43)
Historical figures on the columns of the fireplace Historical figures, including those of Columbus and Queen Isabella, decorate the capitals of the engaged octagonal columns on either side of the fireplace.
Historical figures on the columns of the fireplace
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