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California's Great Seal

California's Great Seal

The Great Seal, the earliest California symbol, was adopted by the Constitutional Convention on October 2, 1849. It was designed by Major Robert S. Garnett, who was an army officer stationed in Monterey. The current official seal is the fourth design, standardized in 1937.

Pictured in the Great Seal:
* The woman in the Seal is the Roman goddess Minerva. The myth of Minerva's birth says that she sprang full-grown from Jupiter's brow. This represented California because California became a state without having to "grow up" first as a territory.
* A small grizzly bear
* Wheat
* Grapes
* A miner working
* San Francisco Bay with ships
* Sierra Nevada mountains in the background
* The state motto, "Eureka" (meaning, "I have found it.")
* 31 stars, one for each state in the Union at the time California became a state

The Great Seal is for the official use of the Governor. The Secretary of State has the custody of the Great Seal and shall:

keep a register and attest the official acts of the Governor and shall affix the Great Seal, with his attestation, to commissions, pardons, and other public instruments, to which the official signature of the Governor is required. (California Government Code. sec. 12162)

View similarly tagged entries:

California, government, symbols



Related Information:


  • Learn California
    Provides a comparison of the 1849 seal and the 1937 seal.
  • California State Library
    Provides information about all of California's State Symbols, including the State Insect, the State Prehistoric Artifact, and the State Tall Ship.

Last updated by harbisons on March 18, 2008


While the Library has verified the information presented in these files in what it considers to be reliable and authoritative sources, it cannot take responsibility for nor guarantee the accuracy of the information presented.