school crest is a visual symbol of identity for a school, a rallying cry, a focus of its pupils' pride and loyalty. Emblazoned on a flag, embossed on a metal badge, monogrammed on school blazers and sports jerseys, printed on exercise book covers and certificates, or integrated into official letterheads, the school crest proclaims the school's identity far and wide. Yet for more than thirty years after its founding, the Victorian Institution had no official crest. Then in the August 1925 issue of the Victorian, a comment was made that a school crest was an urgent and pressing necessity. The school, it reported, had already approached the Sultan of Selangor on this question and that His Royal Highness had graciously permitted the school to make any use that it liked of the Selangor Coat of Arms.
(The V.I. had, indeed, very close ties with the Selangor royal family. Sultan Alaud-din Sulaiman Shah sat on the School's Board of Trustees when he was the Raja Muda and laid the foundation stone of the new V.I. in 1927. His grandfather, Sultan Abdul Samad Shah, was one of the founders of the School in 1893. In later years, the Sultan's son, Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah, and grandson, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, maintained that tradition and frequently graced the Sports Days and Speech Days of the V.I. with their presence.)
Subsequently, the December 1925 issue of the Victorian carried a report that School Crest was being drawn by a Mr. W.D. Mavor of the Government Survey Department and it was hoped it would be possible to have it proofed and published in that same issue. Mr Mavor, the report said, had been to great trouble about this, and the school was intensely grateful to him for all his labours. However, nothing more was heard of this project.
Recent correspondence in the National Archives (March 2007) researched on behalf of this writer throws some light on this matter. One was a letter dated 16th November, 1925 from the V.I. Headmaster, Mr Richard Sidney, to the Inspector of Schools, Selangor, requesting permission to publish a proposed design for the VI crest in the forthcoming December issue of the school magazine:
The other letter, dated the same day, was from the Acting Inspector of Schools to the Secretary of the British Resident, forwarding a copy of Sidney's letter together with the sketch (by Mr Mavor presumably) of the crest:
The design was the left profile of a middle-aged Queen Victoria with a scroll at the top bearing the name of the school and a scroll at the bottom inscribed with the Latin motto Gratia Deo Agere, meaning "Give thanks to God".
The letter was evidently received by the Resident as his office date stamp with the words "Secretariat - 17 November 1925" is at the top of the letter. Against the final paragraph (4), is a hand-written "No". It either meant the Resident agreed that the matter could not be settled in time for publication or it could have meant his blanket thumbs down to the whole idea.
It would seem that was the end of Sidney's brain child. In the event, he resigned his Headmastership of the VI by February 1926 (he probably had tendered his resignation well before the crest design was being proposed). It would be another two to three years before one of Sidney's successors finally came up with the winning design.
The former V.I. School Captain from 1928 to 1929, Mr W. F. C. Grenier, had also been assiduous in the search for a suitable crest and was responsible for keeping the matter to the fore. In the end, it was during the stewardship of Mr. E. de la Mothe Stowell, the acting headmaster who had come from Bukit Mertajam from June to December, 1930, that the final version of the school crest was designed. His other achievements included the winning of the much-coveted Thomson Cup and the inception of the cross-country runs.
This version was the design of Mr. G. Burgess, the Art Superintendent. A colour plate of the school crest was printed in the December 1930 issue of the school magazine for Victorians to detach and frame. The school crest was reproduced on at least four other occasions, in the Victorian of July 1941, in A Short History of the Victoria Institution, 1893 - 1961, in the 1963 Victorian and in the 1970 Speech Day programme.
Over time, the school crest has undergone gross distortions as evidenced in the present school badge and recent school publications. This is due to generations of Victorians copying - and introducing slight errors - what their seniors had copied before them. The present day Seladang's horns have become too short and the crescent moon seems to engulf the five-point star. The finer features of the Key of Knowledge are completely wrong, as are the heights of the "goals". In fact the original 1930 design is still in the large emblem in the school hall above the stage. This should be used as a benchmark. The original citation of the crest reads as follows:
"The shield, it will be observed, carries the letters V.I. in dark blue on a light blue ground, thus displaying the school colours. The star and crescent and the head of a Seladang will be recognised as symbolic of the State and its people. The key is the Key of Knowledge and the goals, wide and narrow, are the Goals to be won, not only on the football and hockey field, but in the world after school days are over."
Now, scanned from the 1963 Victorian, the school crest at the top of the page is available for all Victorians to admire and to download for their own use.
That the V.I.'s star and crescent are borrowed from the pre-war Selangor flag is obvious on comparison of the two designs below:
It is interesting to note that the Selangor flag underwent a minor redesign in January 1965 (see below) so that the five-point star became larger and the crescent thicker and more rounded. The colour of the star and crescent was also changed from yellow to white. In February 1974, Kuala Lumpur became Wilayah Persekutuan; with the stroke of a pen, the Sultan of Selangor ceded 94 square miles of his state to the Federal Government and the V.I. was no longer in Selangor! After 80 years, the appellation "The Victoria Institution, Selangor" simply ceased to apply. However the School's historic link to the Selangor royal family is still preserved forever in the five-point star and that unmistakable narrow crescent moon in the V.I. crest!
Last updated on Jan 22, 2020.
Contributed by: Chung Chee Min