National & State Symbols
Nevada State Seal
Great Seal of the State of Nevada
Adopted on February 24, 1886.
The Great Seal of the State of Nevada is derived from the Seal of the Territory of Nevada. As Nevada prepared for statehood in 1864, its Constitutional Convention began to formalize the features of the state's official seal. Nevada was admitted as a state on October 31, 1864 by proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln. The state seal is the first symbol Nevada adopted. The Great Seal of the State of Nevada was adopted February 24, 1886. A gold seal is embossed with the words, "The Great Seal of the State of Nevada" around the outer edge. Within this is a composite picture showing the mining, agriculture, industry, and scenery of Nevada, under which is a scroll with the state motto, "All for Our Country."
Nevada Great Seal
The Territorial Legislature also authorized the Secretary of the Territory to have general supervision over the preparation of the designing and cutting of the seal. No mention was made concerning custody of the seal by the Governor.
The first action taken toward providing the State of Nevada with an official state seal was the adoption of a description of a design for the "Great Seal of the State of Nevada" by the Constitutional Convention in 1864. Subsequently, the convention adopted a resolution that authorized the Secretary of the Territory to procure a state seal, after the adoption of the Constitution by the people, and in accordance with the design adopted by the Constitutional Convention.
Unfortunately, the Constitutional Convention failed to incorporate this action in the Constitution. Being omitted from the Constitution as approved by the people, the action taken by the Convention concerning adoption and resolution had no binding effect in legally establishing a state seal.
In spite of these expressions, no amendment was offered to alter the suggested wording of Art. V, which reads as follows:
No one has ever initiated an amendment to the Constitution altering this requirement. The seal actually is kept by the Secretary of State for the obvious reason that the Secretary, not the Governor, attests to and affixes the seal to certified copies of records and other official documents, as required by state law. Some members of the Constitutional Convention recognized the Secretary of State as the logical custodian of the state seal; however, the situation was not clarified at the convention and has continued to this day as an impractical provision in the Constitution.
The description of the state seal was provided by the Second Session of the State Legislature in 1866 and was identical to that adopted by the Constitutional Convention in 1864. Therefore, the official and legal provision for a state seal dates from the action of the legislature in 1866.
In 1875, the legislature clarified the seal by establishing its dimensions as follows:
The measure, in recognition of practical considerations, also provided for access to the seal by the Secretary of State, as follows:
This action in 1875 gave official recognition to the problem raised by the Governor having custody of the state seal. Since that provision is a constitutional one, the legislature would have to initiate a constitutional amendment to change custody. Instead, legislators chose to modify the provision by providing for access to the seal by the Secretary of State. The logical aspect of its custody remained unresolved.
Further action concerning the state seal was not taken until 1955. In that year, the legislature amended the original 1866 law to establish a penalty for the malicious or commercial use of the state seal. Such misuse of the state seal constituted a misdemeanor.
On February 24, 1866, the motto "Volens et Potens" ("Willing and Able") was replaced by "All for Our Country". The design of the seal was formalized, and Nevada's mineral resources are featured with a silver miner and his team moving a carload of ore from a mountain in the foreground. A quartz mill stands before another mountain. Transportation and communication are symbolized by a train steaming across the background, with telegraph poles spanning the distance. Agriculture is represented by a sheaf of wheat, a sickle, and a plow in the foreground. Nevada's natural beauty is symbolized by a brilliant sun rising over snow-capped peaks. The inner circle of the seal carries the motto "All for Our Country", and Nevada's entry into the Union as the 36th state is shown with 36 stars completing the inner ring. The perimeter of the seal proclaims "The Great Seal of the State of Nevada". Mark Twain was said to have convinced the designer to make the two trails of smoke blow in opposite directions as a prank, which was later rectified when the mistake was realized
The current description of the state seal in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) is substantially the same as that in the original act and reads as follows:
TITLE 19-MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS RELATED TO GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Several state seals have been designed for use by state departments and agencies, and variations of the seal appear on some of Nevada's state buildings. Certain inconsistencies are noted among these seals. The most nearly authentic seal is the one that is impressed by the Secretary of State on various documents; it is quite close to the legal description. A few minor differences, however, may be observed in the pictorial portion of the seal. Some of these are quite definite, such as the reference to a "train of railroad cars" (plural), when only one car follows the engine. Others are less definite, such as the reference to a "range of snow-clad mountains," and on the seal as used there is little indication that the mountains are, in fact, wearing a mantle of snow.
When communications were transcribed by hand and tediously undertaken, seals authenticated official government documents. In this day of computers & instant communications, seals still serve the same purpose.