Coppin's mace is carried by the Grand Marshal during special academic ceremonies. In medieval times the mace was a heavy war club with a spiked or flanged metal head and was used to crush armor. When a high official was taking office or opening his court and needed a bodyguard, the mace, a formidable weapon, was held ready to protect the person of the dignitary. However, as early as the 13th century, the warlike image of the mace began to diminish, and the mace became a symbol of peaceful leadership; the spikes were replaced with jewels and precious metals. The academic mace has become the symbol of power of an academic institution to confer degrees.