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Washington State Seal
Great Seal of the State of Washington
Adopted in 1889.
The Great Seal of the state of Washington was adopted 1889.
The Seal of the State of Washington contains a portrait of George Washington, as painted by Gilbert Stuart. The outer ring contains the text "The Seal of the State of Washington" and "1889", the year Washington state was admitted to the Union. The seal is featured as the main element on both sides of the flag of Washington.
The seal was designed by Charles Talcott, based on a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Originally the seal was to be a scene featuring Mount Rainier, but Talcott proposed the design featuring George Washington instead.
Washington Great Seal
A short time before Washington became a state in 1889, a committee brought an elaborate design for a state seal to Olympia jeweller, Charles Talcott, and asked him to complete it in time for the meeting of the first Legislature in November of that year.
The design submitted by the committee was very complicated sketch, depicting the port of Tacoma, vast wheat fields, grazing sheep and Mount Rainier. Talcott argued that the design was too complicated and would be quickly outmoded by the growth of the state. Something simple, he suggested, would be timeless. He picked up an ink bottle and drew a circle around its base. Next he placed a silver dollar in the circle and drew an inner circle.
Between these circles he lettered the words, "The Seal of the State of Washington, 1889". In the center he pasted a postage stamp bearing a picture of George Washington. The design was quickly accepted by the Legislature.
But making the die from the picture of George Washington on a postage stamp was no easy task. Under magnification the picture was poorly detailed and would have been unsatisfactory when enlarged. George Talcott was given the job of finding a suitable picture and cutting the die. After reviewing a number of pictures, he finally found what he was looking for -- a color drawing of George Washington on a packing box of "Dr. D. Jaynes Cure for Coughs & Colds"! Grant Talcott did the lettering and George cut the die.
Over the years, more than two dozen variations of the Talcott design were used. In 1967, Seattle graphic designer Richard Nelms was commissioned to create a new insignia. He selected a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, which was accepted and made the official State Seal by the Legislature.
By law, the Secretary of State is the custodian of the Great Seal, which is attached to official documents and certificates issued by the state. The original die and press for the State Seal -- now more than 100 years old -- is still used by the Secretary of State to impress the seal on official state documents.
NOTE: Washington state law specifically prohibits any individual, person, firm, association or corporation from making any use of the State Seal unless written permission has first been obtained from the Secretary of State. For more information, see statutes and administrative rules governing use of the seal.
State Constitution Provisions Governing Use of the Seal
Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
Chapter 1.20 RCW
In days when communications were transcribed by hand and tediously undertaken, seals served to authenticate official government documents. In this day of computers and instant communications, seals still serve the same purpose.