Historical coats of arms of the U.S. states date back to the admission of the first states to the Union. Despite the widely accepted practice of determining early statehood from the date of ratification of the United States Constitution, many of the original colonies referred to themselves as states shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July 1776. Committees of political leaders and intellectuals were established by state legislatures to research and propose a seal and coat of arms. Many of these members were signers of the Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and United States Constitution. Several of the earliest adopted state coats of arms and seals were similar or identical to their colonial counterparts.
In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.
Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent that lacked the authority to bind the principal legally. Ratification defines the international act in which a state indicates its consent to be bound to a treaty if the parties intended to show their consent by such an act. In the case of bilateral treaties, ratification is usually accomplished by exchanging the requisite instruments, and in the case of multilateral treaties, the usual procedure is for the depositary to collect the ratifications of all states, keeping all parties informed of the situation.
State Arms of the Union, illustrated by Henry Mitchell and published by Louis Prang (known as the father of the lithographic industry), offers historically accurate renderings of the state's coats of arms as they existed in 1876. An accomplished engraver with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing for 40 years, Mitchell was responsible for engraving several coats of arms for official state use as well as arms for well-known educational and philanthropic organizations. The illustrations are presented alongside proof impressions from the engraved dies used to print the state arms on the first issue of United States National Bank Notes.
Louis Prang was an American printer, lithographer, publisher, and Georgist. He is sometimes known as the "father of the American Christmas card".
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is a government agency within the United States Department of the Treasury that designs and produces a variety of security products for the United States government, most notable of which is Federal Reserve Notes for the Federal Reserve, the nation's central bank. In addition to paper currency, the BEP produces Treasury securities; military commissions and award certificates; invitations and admission cards; and many different types of identification cards, forms, and other special security documents for a variety of government agencies. The BEP does not produce coins; all coinage is produced by the United States Mint. With production facilities in Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is the largest producer of government security documents in the United States.
National Bank Notes were United States currency banknotes issued by National banks chartered by the United States Government. The notes were usually backed by United States bonds the bank deposited with the United States Treasury. In addition, banks were required to maintain a redemption fund amounting to five percent of any outstanding note balance, in gold or "lawful money".
Heraldic arms were worn (embroidered) on a coat which knights wore over their armor, hence coat of arms,a term which dates back roughly 1,000 years to jousting tournaments.
Heraldry is a broad term, encompassing the design, display, and study of armorial bearings, as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, rank, and pedigree. Armory, the best-known branch of heraldry, concerns the design and transmission of the heraldic achievement. The achievement, or armorial bearings usually includes a coat of arms on an shield, helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes.
An achievement, armorial achievement or heraldic achievement in heraldry is a full display or depiction of all the heraldic components to which the bearer of a coat of arms is entitled. An achievement comprises not only the arms themselves displayed on the Escutcheon, the central element, but also the following elements surrounding it:
Embroidery is the craft of decorating fabric or other materials using a needle to apply thread or yarn.
A state coat of arms may exist independently of the seal, but the reverse is not generally the case.A seal contains a coat of arms or other devices whereas a state coat of arms constitutes the bulk of a seal, except for the wording identifying it as the "Great Seal of the State of..." A "seal" has been described as the design impressed on public or legislative official documents, whereas a coat of arms generally appears for illustrative purposes. Examples include flags and banners, and state militia uniform caps and buttons, as well as specifically-designed regimental coats of arms for U.S. Infantry Regiments, and National Guard units.
A seal is a device for making an impression in wax, clay, paper, or some other medium, including an embossment on paper, and is also the impression thus made. The original purpose was to authenticate a document, a wrapper for one such as a modern envelope, or the cover of a container or package holding valuables or other objects.
An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in published media, such as posters, flyers, magazines, books, teaching materials, animations, video games and films. An illustration is typically created by an illustrator. Illustration also means providing an example; either in writing or in picture form.
A flag is a piece of fabric with a distinctive design and colours. It is used as a symbol, a signalling device, or for decoration. The term flag is also used to refer to the graphic design employed, and flags have evolved into a general tool for rudimentary signalling and identification, especially in environments where communication is challenging. The study of flags is known as "vexillology" from the Latin vexillum, meaning "flag" or "banner".
A coat of arms of a nation or state is usually the design or device of the obverse of its seal. It is an official emblem, mark of identification, and symbol of the authority of the government of a nation or state. A nation or state's coat of arms is oftentimes referred to as the national or state arms.
The design of a state coat of arms or seal has generally been authorized by a provision in the state constitution or a legislative act. In most instances a committee (more often than not consisting of three members)was appointed to study the issue, seek advice from qualified artists, historians, legal scholars, etc., and report back to the authorizing legislative body with a design for their approval. Historically, this committee has consisted of notable members of society and elected officials.
In the United States, each state has its own constitution.
The first committee to design the Great Seal of the United States was appointed on 4 July 1776 by the Second Continental Congress and consisted of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson.Their design was rejected on 20 August 1776. The second committee (James Lovell, John Morin Scott, and William Churchill Houston) design met with the same fate. It was the third committee (Arthur Middleton, Elias Boudinot, John Rutledge, who consulted with William Barton) that submitted a design which was approved on 20 July 1782.
Individual states approached their coats of arms and seals in a similar manner (i.e., seeking direction from the statesmen and scholars of their community). A few of those involved in the design of state arms and seals include (but is not limited to): John Jay and Gouverneur Morris (New York);Francis Hopkinson (New Jersey); David Rittenhouse and George Clymer (Pennsylvania); and George Mason, Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin West, and Thomas Jefferson (Virginia).
An impression of the Great Seal of a state (or its coat of arms) has long been required on official documents ranging from deeds to legislative acts. It was the emblem that certified the authenticity of a given documentor that the authority of the state was invested in said document. Judicial decisions upheld the need for a valid seal and/or coat of arms on notarized documents.
One of the more compelling legislative actions recognizing the legal importance/authority of the state seal and arms occurred in February 1873 when a joint session of the United States Congress refused to recognize Arkansas's electoral votes in the November 1872 presidential election.The official tally of the state's electoral votes was submitted with an invalid seal (bearing the coat of arms of the office of the Secretary of the State of Arkansas versus the seal of the state of Arkansas bearing the state arms).
Courts and state legislatures also opined on the inappropriate uses of state seals and arms. Most states barred their use for any kind of advertising.Reproduction for corporate use was similarly prohibited and such infractions were classified as offenses against public property. The 2003 Code of Federal Regulations pertaining to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives prohibits the use of state seals or coats of arms in product branding so as not to mislead the public into thinking that a commercial product has been endorsed by a government organization.
A state coat of arms provided an opportunity to convey the natural and industrial resources available to its residents. 1,550 feet (470 m)) and Hoosier Hill (1,257 feet (383 m)) respectively.Common themes depicted in state arms include farming, industry, transportation (e.g., boats, trains, and wagons), and nature (e.g., sunsets and mountains). The Ohio and Indiana state arms depict fairly substantial mountains in the distance. In reality, the highest points in Ohio and Indiana are Campbell Hill (
The Florida state arms also depicts mountains in the distance but the highest point in the state is 345 feet (105 m) feet high. In addition to the distortion of local geography, the image also contains historically inaccurate information. The period depicted in the state arms (c. 1830) was a time when the local Seminole Native Americans were hostile toward white settlers; the warm greeting (e.g., flower petals strewn on the ground) offered by the Seminole to the arriving steam ship would have been highly improbable. Furthermore, the Seminole woman depicted would not have worn any headdress, particularly one of northern and western Seminole tribes.
Published in 1876 by Louis Prang and illustrated by Henry Mitchell, State Arms of the Union contains a chromolithographed title page depicting the Great Seal of the United States and seven color plates with 45 state and territorial coats of arms. The book was likely published for the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
Louis Prang was born 12 March 1824 in Breslau. At the age of 13 he began apprenticing for his fatherand learned to dye and print calico, as well as wood and metal engraving. Prang emigrated to Boston in 1850 and became an illustrator for a number of local publications. Starting a business partnership in 1856 to manufacture copper and lithographic plates, Prang became sole proprietor in 1860 and named the company L. Prang & Co. He specialized in color printing, more specifically “chromolithography” Prang spent over four decades studying and creating a standard of colors and engraved and printed maps, prints of contemporary celebrities, and color reproductions of famous works of art.
In 1875 Prang was responsible for introducing the Christmas card to America.He created an annual design competition for his Christmas cards (run between 1880 and 1884), and judges included John La Farge, Samuel Colman, Stanford White, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Some of the notable winners included Elihu Vedder, Rosina Emmet Sherwood, Edwin Blashfield, Thomas Moran, and Will Hicok Low. Prang has become known as the "father of the American Christmas card", as well as the "father of the lithographic industry".
Henry Mitchell was born in New York in 1835 and went to school in Philadelphia.At the age of 10 he began working with his uncle to learn the trade of gem and steel engraving. By the age of 20 (1855), Mitchell had engraved the official seals for the Kingdom of Hawaii.
In 1868 Mitchell joined the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and for 40 years engraved stamped envelopes.Through his BEP work, Mitchell was also responsible for engraving the seal of the Secretary of the Navy and the Internal Revenue Service. He also engraved the state seals for Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. Outside of state and federal government engraving, Mitchell engraved the seals and coats of arms for many well-known institutions which include Harvard University, Society of the Cincinnati, and Boston Public Library. He engraved the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition award medal (1876) which was struck in the Philadelphia Mint. In 1891, Mitchell was invited by the Secretary of the Treasury to join a committee to evaluate the artistic design proposals for a new issue of U.S. coins. The two other members were Charles E. Barber, Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
In addition to being considered an expert on heraldry,Mitchell was regarded as one of the best engravers and medal designers in the United States.
The National Bank Act (12 Stat. 532) authorized the issue of a national currency. Historical vignettes on the front and back were the same by denomination (e.g., Landing of Columbus was on the reverse of all $5 notes) and the state coat of arms (located on the reverse left side) was coordinated with the geographic location of the issuing bank. Records do not clearly state who bore the responsibility for the design of the state arms (i.e., the U.S. Treasury Department, or the three bank note companies contracted for engraving and printing). It appears that the first dies (for New Jersey, Missouri, Minnesota, and Vermont) were completed by the American Bank Note Company by 9 October 1863 based on their own drawings. State arms appeared on the reverse of the Original and 1875 Series notes (first and second issue of the first design), and the 1882 Brown Back Series (the second design) of National Bank Notes.
|Connecticut||Colonial (1775) |
|Rhode Island||Colonial (1738)|
|South Carolina||Colonial (1778)|
The main table contains four columns. Location refers to either the territory or state and is linked to the most relevant article (e.g., Seal of... or Coat of arms of...). All but one of the illustrations are included in a relevant article. Coat of arms contains the State Arms of the Union illustrations. National Bank Note contains the state arms found on U.S. National Currency between 1863 and the 1890s. Information lists the date of statehood and/or territorial organic act date and the date the state or territorial arms were accepted by constitutional convention or legislative assembly.
|Location||Coat of arms||National Bank Note||Information|
|Alabama||Statehood – 14 December 1819|
Arms – 29 December 1868
|Arkansas||Statehood – 15 June 1836|
Arms – 3 May 1864
|California||Statehood – 9 September 1850|
Arms – 2 October 1849
|Colorado||Statehood – 1 August 1876|
Arms – 13 June 1877
|Connecticut||Statehood – 9 January 1788|
Arms – October 1842
|Dakota Territory||Organic Act – 2 March 1861 |
Arms – 3 January 1863
|Delaware||Statehood – 7 December 1787|
Arms – 18 January 1847
|District of Columbia||Organic Act – 21 February 1790 |
Arms – 3 August 1871
|Florida||Statehood – 3 March 1845|
Arms – 6 August 1868
|Georgia||Statehood – 2 January 1788|
Arms – 8 February 1799
|Idaho Territory||Organic Act – 3 March 1863 |
Arms – 13 March 1866
Statehood – 3 July 1890
|Illinois||Statehood – 3 December 1818|
Arms – 7 March 1867
|Indiana||Statehood – 11 December 1816|
Arms – 13 December 1816
|Iowa||Statehood – 28 December 1846|
Arms – 25 February 1847
|Kansas||Statehood – 29 January 1861|
Arms – 25 May 1861
|Kentucky||Statehood – 1 June 1792|
Arms – 20 December 1792
|Louisiana||Statehood – 30 April 1812|
Arms – 23 December 1813
|Maine||Statehood – 15 March 1820|
Arms – 9 June 1820
|Maryland||Statehood – 28 April 1788|
Arms – 18 March 1876
|Massachusetts||Statehood – 6 February 1788|
Arms – 13 December 1780
|Michigan||Statehood – 26 January 1837|
Arms – 2 June 1835
|Minnesota||Statehood – 11 May 1858|
Arms – 16 July 1858
|Mississippi||Statehood – 10 December 1817|
Arms – 6 February 1894
|Missouri||Statehood – 10 August 1821|
Arms – 11 January 1822
|Montana Territory||Organic Act – 26 May 1864 |
Arms – 9 February 1865
Statehood – 8 November 1889
|Nebraska||Statehood – 1 March 1867|
Arms – 15 June 1867
|Nevada||Statehood – 31 October 1864|
Arms – 24 February 1866
|New Hampshire||Statehood – 21 June 1788|
Arms – 12 February 1785
|New Jersey||Statehood – 18 December 1787|
Arms – 10 September 1776
|New Mexico Territory||Organic Act – 9 September 1850 |
Arms – 1 February 1887
Statehood – 6 January 1912
|New York||Statehood – 26 July 1788|
Arms – 27 March 1809
|North Carolina||Statehood – 21 November 1789|
Arms – 1835
|North Dakota||Statehood – 2 November 1889|
Arms – 1 October 1889
|Ohio||Statehood – 1 March 1803|
Arms – 1 March 1803
|Oregon||Statehood – 14 February 1859|
Arms – 2 June 1859
|Pennsylvania||Statehood – 12 December 1787|
Arms – 17 March 1875
|Rhode Island||Statehood – 29 May 1790|
Arms – 24 February 1875
|South Carolina||Statehood – 23 May 1788|
Arms – 2 April 1776
|South Dakota||Statehood – 2 November 1889|
Arms – 1 October 1889
|Tennessee||Statehood – 1 June 1796|
Arms – 24 April 1802
|Texas||Statehood – 29 December 1845|
Arms – 25 January 1839
|Utah Territory||Organic Act – 9 September 1850 |
Arms – 9 September 1850
Statehood – 4 January 1896
|Vermont||Statehood – 4 March 1791|
Arms – 20 February 1779
|Virginia||Statehood – 25 June 1788|
Arms – 1776
|Washington||Organic Act – 2 March 1853 |
Arms – 28 February 1854
|West Virginia||Statehood – 20 June 1863|
Arms – 26 September 1863
|Wisconsin||Statehood – 29 May 1848|
Arms – 29 December 1851
|Wyoming Territory||Organic Act – 25 July 1868 |
Statehood – 10 July 1890
When State Arms of the Union was published in 1876, some existing arms were not included (e.g., Arizona and Washington Territory). At the time, Alaska was classified as the Department of Alaska (1867–84) and became the District of Alaska (1884–1912) before becoming the Territory of Alaska (1912–59). The Alaska territorial seal was designed in 1910and adopted in 1913. On 3 January 1959 Alaska became the 49th U.S. State. The Oklahoma Territory (1890–1907) Organic Act was approved on 2 May 1890, and a territorial seal was adopted on 10 January 1893. Hawaii, formerly the Kingdom of Hawaii (1795–1893), Republic of Hawaii (1894–98), and then Territory of Hawaii (1898–1959) became the 50th U.S. State on 21 August 1959. None of the territories or states mentioned above had a coat of arms represented on national currency.
The flag of Alaska consists of eight gold stars, forming the Big Dipper and Polaris, on a dark blue field. The Big Dipper is an asterism in the constellation Ursa Major which symbolizes a bear, an animal indigenous to Alaska. As depicted on the flag, its stars can be used as a guide by the novice to locate Polaris and determine true north, which varies considerably from a magnetic north.
The Territory of Wisconsin was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 3, 1836, until May 29, 1848, when an eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Wisconsin. Belmont was initially chosen as the capital of the territory. In 1837, the territorial legislature met in Burlington, just north of the Skunk River on the Mississippi, which became part of the Iowa Territory in 1838. In that year, 1838, the territorial capital of Wisconsin was moved to Madison.
Large denominations of United States currency greater than $100 were circulated by the United States Treasury until 1969. Since then, U.S. dollar banknotes have only been issued in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.
The Seal of the President of the United States is used to mark correspondence from the president of the United States to the U.S. Congress, and is also used as a symbol of the presidency itself. The central design, based on the Great Seal of the United States, is the official coat of arms of the U.S. presidency and also appears on the presidential flag.
The Great Seal of the State of Hawaii was designated officially by Act 272 of the 1959 Territorial Legislature and is based on the territorial seal. Modifications to the territorial seal included the use of the words "State of Hawaii" at the top and "1959" within the circle. Provisions for a seal for the state of Hawaii were enacted by the Territorial Legislature and approved by Governor William F. Quinn on June 8, 1959. The passage of the Admission Act in 1959, admitted Hawaii as the 50th State of the United States of America on August 21, 1959.
The Great Seal of the State of Vermont is the official seal of the U.S. state of Vermont, used to emboss and authenticate official documents. It was designed by Ira Allen, brother of Ethan Allen and one of the state's founders.
The state of New Hampshire has held two seals since it declared its independence from Great Britain on January 5, 1776. While both seals have been retained, most people are only familiar with the Great Seal due to its corporate use.
The Great Seal of the State of New Mexico is the official seal of the U.S. State of New Mexico and was adopted in 1913.
The Great Seal of the State of Ohio is the official insignia of the U.S. state of Ohio. All governmental offices, agencies, and courts in Ohio use variations of the state seal. Its primary feature is a circular coat of arms that depicts a sunrise in Chillicothe, Ohio's first capital, along with symbols of the state's origins. The seal sometimes appears with the state motto, "With God, all things are possible".
The Coat of arms of New South Wales is the official coat of arms of the Australian state of New South Wales. It was granted by royal warrant of King Edward VII dated 11 October 1906.
The coat of arms of Vermont is the official armorial bearings of the U.S. state of Vermont. Most of the elements found in the coat of arms originate in the Great Seal of Vermont designed by Ira Allen. Whereas the Great Seal of Vermont is reproduced in a single color and is reserved for embossing and authenticating state documents, the coat of arms is a more naturalistic and colorful representation of many of the same elements. The Coat of arms of Vermont was first used in 1807 on $5 bank notes of The Vermont State Bank. One of these notes is in the special collections of the Vermont History Center in Barre, Vermont. Prior to the discovery of the 1807 banknotes, the earliest representation of the coat of arms of Vermont was found on an engraved 1821 state military commissions. The exact designer is not known, but it is likely that then Secretary of State Robert Temple worked with an engraver in developing the arms. Considerable liberties were taken in early depictions of the coat of arms. The location of the cow and the sheaves moved about the foreground, and the height of the pine tree and size of the buck's head also varied. A state statute was approved in 1840, and modified in 1862, both attempts to codify and create more consistent representation of the arms. The coat of arms was cast in brass to ornament uniforms of Vermont's military regiments before, and through the U.S. Civil War, when individual states raised and trained their own regiments.
ABCorp is an American corporation providing secure payment, retail and ID cards, vital record and transaction documents, systems and services to governments and financial institutions - and is one of the largest producers of plastic transaction cards in the world. ABCorp has offices and manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Germany, Dubai and South Africa. Formerly known as the American Bank Note Company, the organization was originally a major worldwide engraver of national currency and postage stamps.
The First Nebraska Territorial Legislature first met in Omaha, Nebraska, on January 15, 1855. The Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Company provided the first meeting place, which was a building "constructed for public purposes". Standing out from the estimated twenty shacks in the young town, it was the first brick building in Omaha, which was founded the year before when the Nebraska Territory was created. Responsible for several important decisions that laid an important foundation for the future statehood for Nebraska, the Nebraska Territorial Legislature made controversial decisions and provided leadership for the territory.
The United States House Committee on Territories was a committee of the United States House of Representatives from 1825 to 1946. Its jurisdiction was reporting on a variety to topics related to the territories, including legislation concerning them, and their admission as new states.
The coats of arms of the U.S. states are coats of arms, adopted by those states that have chosen, that are an official symbol of the state, alongside their seal. Eighteen states have officially adopted coats of arms. The former independent Republic of Texas and Kingdom of Hawaii each had a separate national coat of arms, which are no longer used.
In early 18th century Colonial America, engravers began experimenting with copper plates as an alternative medium to wood. Applied to the production of paper currency, copper-plate engraving allowed for greater detail and production during printing. It was the transition to steel engraving that enabled banknote design and printing to rapidly advance in the United States during the 19th century.
Egg-Stamp – a jewelry Easter egg created by Mikhail Perkhin under auspices of Carl Faberge in 1895, for Vasily Denisov.
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