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The Library Lion.

he world-renowned pair of marble lions that stand proudly before the majestic Beaux-Arts building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan have captured the imagination and affection of New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world since the Library was dedicated on May 23, 1911.

Sculpted by Edward Clark Potter (American, 1857-1923) from pink Tennessee marble, the Lions have stood guardian to one of the world's great collections of books and manuscripts. When the lions were unveiled, some critics found fault with them as "large pussycats." However, the two recumbent male lions soon came to be admired, and the $13,000 paid for their modeling and carving was soon considered money well spent.

Over the years, the lions have witnessed countless parades and pageants. They have been adorned with 60-pound holly wreaths during the winter holidays and magnificent floral wreaths in springtime. They have been decked in tri-cornered hats and graduation caps. They have been photographed alongside countless tourists, caricatured in cartoons, and illustrated in numerous books. One even served as the hiding place for the cowardly lion in the motion picture “The Wiz.”

Their nicknames have changed over the decades. First they were called Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after The New York Public Library founders John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. Later, they were known as Lord Astor and Lady Lenox. During the 1930s, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia named them Patience and Fortitude, for the qualities he felt New Yorkers would need to survive the economic depression. These names have stood the test of time: Patience still guards the south side of the Library's steps and Fortitude sits unwaveringly to the north.

The Patience Paperweight
Patience, who seems to be everyone's favorite lion, has been replicated as an elegant paperweight.

The Patience Paperweight
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