New York Symbols
, Fish (Freshwater,) Fish (Saltwater,) Flag
New York State Seal
Great Seal of the State of New York
Adopted in 1882.
The Great Seal of New York was adopted in 1882. The State Seal of New York is the coat of arms surrounded by the words "The Great Seal of
the State of New York." The original is at the Albany Institute of History and Art. The state flag of New York was adopted in 1901. A modern version of a Revolutionary
War flag, today's New York State flag is the coat of arms on a solid blue background. The legislature changed the field of the flag from buff to blue by a law enacted on April
Coat of arms of New York
The coat of arms of the State of New York was formally adopted in 1778, and appears as a component of the State's flag and seal.
The shield displays a mast ship and a sloop on the Hudson River river (symbols of inland and foreign commerce), bordered by a grassy shore fringed with shrubs
and a mountain range in the background with a cloudless sky and the sun rising rising sun behind three mountains, the highlands of the Hudson River. The
unheraldic nature of the Hudson River landscape reveals the modern origin of the design.
The shield has two supporters:
- Left: Liberty, with the Revolutionary imagery of a Phrygian cap raised on a pole. These caps were given to Roman slaves when emancipated and adopted by
French Revolutionists as symbols of Liberty. Her left foot treads upon a crown that represents freedom from the British monarchy that once ruled what is now
New York as a colony. Liberty is clothed in blue and wearing red sandals. Like Justice, a red robe hangs from her shoulder and her unbound hair is decorated
- Right: Justice, " her hair decorated with pearls, wearing a blindfold (representing impartiality) and holding scales (representing fairness) and a
sword. These symbols represent the impartiality and fairness of justice required to mete out punishment and reward. Justice is clothed in gold with a blue
belt edged with red. A loose red robe hangs from her
A white banner below the shield shows the motto Excelsior, a Latin word meaning “higher”, “superior”, “lordly”, commonly translated as “Ever Upward”
Signifying a reach for ever higher goals.
The shield is surmounted by a crest consisting of an Bald Eagle, wings spread, perched atop a world globe depicting the northern Atlantic Ocean. The eagle faces
right, a good omen.
The state seal of New York is the coat of arms surrounded by the words "The Great Seal of the State of New York." The
original is at the Albany Institute of History and Art
New York Seal Law
Article 6 - ARMS AND GREAT SEAL OF STATE
§ 73. Great seal of the state. The secretary of state shall cause to be engraved upon metal two and one-half inches in diameter the device of arms of this
state, accurately conformed to the description thereof given in this article, surrounded with the legend, "The great seal of the state of New York." It alone
shall be used as the great seal of the state, and the secretary of state shall have the custody thereof.
§ 74. Use of the great seal. All such matters as have issued under the great seal of the state since March sixteenth, seventeen hundred seventy-eight, shall
continue to be issued under such seal, except copies of papers and records certified by the secretary of state or his deputy and authenticated under his seal of
office. The secretary of state may, however, upon such terms and conditions as he may deem appropriate, furnish an impression, replica or print of the great
seal of the state for use as a collector's item, for use in preparing a collector's item or for educational purposes.
§ 74-a. New York state collectible series panel. 1. There is hereby
created an advisory panel to be known as the "New York state collectible
series panel" which, in connection with the design, marketing,
distribution and sale of collectible items bearing the great seal, shall
have the powers and duties provided for in this section. Such panel
shall consist of the director of the state museum, who shall serve as
chairperson, the secretary of state and ten other members appointed by
the governor, three of whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation
of the temporary president of the senate, one of whom shall be appointed
upon the recommendation of the minority leader of the senate, three of
whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of the speaker of the
assembly and one of whom shall be appointed upon the recommendation of
the minority leader of the assembly. The secretary of state shall be an
ex-officio, non-voting member of the panel, and shall provide technical
expertise and advice to the panel as necessary. The appointed members of
the panel shall serve for a term of three years provided, however, that
of the members initially appointed by the governor, one member chosen
upon the recommendation of the speaker of the assembly, one member
chosen upon the recommendation of the temporary president of the senate,
and one member chosen by the governor shall serve an initial term of one
year; one member chosen upon the recommendation of the speaker of the
assembly, one member chosen upon the recommendation of the temporary
president of the senate, and one member chosen by the governor shall
serve an initial term of two years. Members of the panel shall not be
entitled to any compensation for services on the panel but shall be
entitled to be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses
incurred in performance of their official duties hereunder. Vacancies on
the panel shall be filled in the same manner and for the remainder of
the term of the original appointment.
2. The functions, powers and duties of the panel shall be as follows:
a. celebrate the tradition of New York by annually designating and
monitoring the production or manufacture of a series of collectible
memorabilia to be made available in limited quantities for purchase by
the public. Such memorabilia shall have the great seal engrossed or
printed thereon and shall be identified as a limited edition
collectible. All memorabilia shall be accompanied by a pamphlet approved
by the panel and provided by the manufacturer which shall provide the
historical information on both the item and the manufacturer;
b. enter into such contracts and agreements, or authorize another
entity to enter into such contracts and agreements, with any New York
based corporation to make such memorabilia available to the public. Such
agreement shall include the price at which such items may be sold, the
amount thereof which may be retained by such corporation as profit, the
amount to be realized by the retailer, and the amount to be realized by
the state from such sale;
c. solicit and secure ideas and suggestions from New York based
businesses as to the memorabilia to be so designated;
d. monitor the marketing and sale of such memorabilia to insure
e. engage in such other activities as are necessary to carry out the
provisions of this section.
3. The monies realized by the state from the sale of the memorabilia
authorized by the panel shall be deposited into the New York state
collectible series fund established in section ninety-four-d of the
state finance law.
4. The panel shall be entitled to request and receive and shall
utilize and be provided with such facilities, resources and data of the
state museum and the secretary of state as it may reasonably request to
carry out properly its powers and duties hereunder. The panel may
solicit the support of any state governmental entity in distributing
information to the public concerning the availability of such
memorabilia, and such governmental entity is hereby authorized to
cooperate in such task.
5. The secretary of state shall, upon such terms and conditions as the
panel may deem appropriate, furnish an impression, replica or print of
the great seal of the state for use in preparing memorabilia pursuant to
6. The panel is authorized to award grants as specified in this
section and section ninety-four-d of the state finance law.
7. The panel shall file an annual report with the governor, the
temporary president of the senate and the speaker of the assembly on the
program provided for in this section. Such report shall be filed
annually on or before March first.
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.