History of the Seal

The Great Seal of West VirginiaJoseph H. Diss Debar, an artist from Doddridge county, was chosen by the Legislature to prepare drawings for an official seal for the State of West Virginia. He submitted his drawings with an explanation of each detail. The great seal of West Virginia, which also is the coat of arms (pictured left), was adopted by the Legislature on September 26, 1863, and symbolizes the principal pursuits and resources of West Virginia. 

The Constitution of West Vi​rginia, Article 2, Section 7, provides that: “The present seal of the state, with its motto ‘Montani Semper Liberi,’ shall be the great seal of the State of West Virginia, and shall be kept by the secretary of state, to be used by him, officially as directed by law.”

The Lesser Seal of West VirginiaThe seal contains the Latin motto Montani Semper Liberi, which means Mountaineers Are Always Free. A farmer stands to the right and a miner to the left of a large ivy-draped stone bearing the date of the state’s admission to the union, June 20, 1863. The stone in the center of the seal also stands for strength. In front of the stone are two hunters’ rifles upon which rests a Phrygian cap, or “cap of liberty.”

The Less Seal of the State (pictured right) is the same as the Great Seal except in dimensions. The Secretary of State is the official keeper of both the Great and Less Seals. While the seal was designed and adopted with two sides, only the front side is in common use. The reverse side of laurel and oak leaves, log house, hills, factories and boats is the Governor’s official seal, and is not in common use today. It was intended to be employed when the seal was attached to documents by ribbons and suspended in the manner of a medal.

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