Washington State Seal

Great Seal of the State of Washington

Washington Seal

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


All commissions shall issue in the name of the state, shall be signed by the governor, sealed with the seal of the state, and attested by the secretary of state.

There shall be a seal of the state kept by the secretary of state for official purposes, which shall be called, "The Seal of the State of Washington."

Design of the Seal: Art. 18 Section 1. State seal: RCW 1.20.080.



The seal of the State of Washington shall be, a seal encircled with the words: "The Seal of the State of Washington," with the vignette of General George Washington as the central figure, and beneath the vignette the figures "1889."

Custody of seal: Art. 3 Section 18. State seal: RCW 1.20.080.

Revised Code of Washington (RCW)

Chapter 1.20 RCW

State seal.

The seal of the state of Washington shall be, a seal encircled with the words: "The Seal of the State of Washington," with the vignette of General George Washington as the central figure, and beneath the vignette the figures "1889" and shall be composed as appears in the illustration below:

(RCW 1.20.080 - Illustration: State Seal)

(For the illustration, please refer to paperback RCW.)

[1967 ex.s. c 65 § 1.]

State Seals
State Seals