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The Great Seal of West Virginia was adopted by the legislature on September 26, 1863. The seal, which has remained unchanged, was designed by Joseph H. Diss Debar. Two and a half inches in diameter, the state seal symbolizes principal pursuits and resources of West Virginia. It is used on official documents and for a variety of other purposes.

On the front or obverse side, the seal, which is also the state’s coat of arms, bears the legend ‘‘State of West Virginia’’ along with the motto ‘‘Montani Semper Liberi.’’ A large ivy-draped rock bearing the date of West Virginia’s admission to the Union in the center of the seal symbolizes strength. At the left, representing agriculture, stands a farmer clothed in hunting garb with his right arm resting on plow handles and his left arm supporting a woodsman’s ax. A sheaf of wheat and a cornstalk are next to him. On the right, to symbolize industry, stands a miner with a pickax. On his left is a partly seen anvil on which rests a sledgehammer. In front of the rock are two crossed rifles, upon which rests a Phrygian cap, or cap of liberty, indicating that freedom and liberty were won and will be maintained by the force of arms.

The seal was designed and adopted with two sides, but only the front or obverse is in common use. The reverse is encircled by a wreath of laurel and oak leaves. A wooded mountain is on the left and a slope with a log farmhouse on the right. On the side of the mountain is a representation of the Tray Run Viaduct, as an engineering feat of the time, and a train about to pass over the viaduct. A factory, fronted by a river with boats, a derrick and a shed, and a meadow with sheep and cattle grazing indicate the leading characteristics and products of the state. Above, the sun emerges from the clouds, and the rays of the sun contain the Latin phrase ‘‘Libertas E Fidelitate,’’ which means ‘‘Freedom and Loyalty.’’

The reverse of the seal, which was intended to be used when the seal was suspended in the manner of a medal with both sides visible, is also the governor’s official seal. The obverse of the state seal is featured in the center of the West Virginia flag.

Last Revised on November 05, 2010

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "State Seal." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 05 November 2010. Web. 13 June 2024.


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