The Harris Tweed Orb Mark has been confirmed as the longest continuously used certification trademark in UK history.
A letter from dated 23rd February 1910 from the Harris Tweed Association to the British Board Of Trade made an application, No. 319214, for registration of a Trade Mark under section 62 of the Trade Marks Act 1905 in Class 34.
The registered design consisted of a globe surmounted by a Maltese Cross with the words Harris Tweed in the first line below and the words Made In Harris, Made In Lewis or Made In Uist in the second line according to the island it was manufactured in.
The Mark was formally registered with the Board of Trade in October 1910 and stamping of authenticated cloth began in Harris in early 1911.
Known in Latin as Globus Crucinger (cross-bearing orb), the orb is traditionally a religious symbol of authority but the meaning and origin behind the decision to choose this symbol for Harris Tweed remains unclear. Theories range from the heraldry of the Dunmore peerage to deriving from the old Gaelic name for the Harris township of Obbe (now Leverburgh), An-T-Ob.
Regardless, although the Orb Mark design has appeared in a number of different incarnations over the years, each firmly retains the essential aspects of circular orb marked with jewels and adorned with a Maltese Cross.
Even today, the Orb Mark continues to be your guarantee of authentic Harris Tweed, dyed, spun and finished in the Outer Hebrides from 100% pure new wool and woven by hand in the home of the local weavers.
Look out for the stamped Orb Mark on your lengths of genuine Harris Tweed cloth or seek the label stitched on the garment or goods, it marks over 110 years of history and is a firm reassurance of its quality and craftsmanship.
Over the coming months we’ll be collating and displaying the Orb Mark in its many and varied incarnations and we’d love you to send in images of other interesting Orb Marks found in your own Harris Tweed collection too.