WV state seal turns 150


The official state seal is 150 years old today.

On September 26, 1863 lawmakers in the newly formed State of West Virginia adopted the State Seal designed by Joseph Hubert Diss Debar of Doddridge County.

   In the 150 years since, the state seal has never been changed. The front of the Seal, which shows a coal miner and farmer representing industry and agriculture, a rock engraved with the date of statehood, and two rifles crossed beneath the Cap of Liberty, has become a symbol of West Virginia. According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, the seal was designed and adopted with two sides, but only the front or obverse is in common use.


Credit Wikimedia
The reverse side of West Virginia’s official state seal.

The reverse side of the seal is the governor’s seal. It 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 Secretary of State is the official keeper of the state seal.