Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Seal, State of Maine

Executive Department

Executive Department

is an image, whether embossed or embroidered printed or projected, described in Maine law in Title 1 sec. 201:

The seal of the State shall be a shield, argent, charged with a pine tree (americana, quinis ex uno folliculo setis) with a moose (cervus alces), at the foot of it, recumbent; supporters: on dexter side, a husbandman, resting on a scythe; on sinister side, a seaman, resting on an anchor.

In the foreground, representing sea and land, and under the shield, shall be the name of the State in large Roman capitals, to wit: MAINE.

The whole shall be surrounded by a crest, the North Star. The motto, in small Roman capitals, shall be in a label interposed between the shield and crest, viz.: — DIRIGO.

It is an embossed image on several heavy cast iron embossers housed in Augusta. These tools impose a raised imprint on official public documents. By law (Title 5 sec. 81) the Seal is in the custody of the Secretary of State.

Where did the Design Come From?

Door to the State House (2012)

Door to the State House (2012)

Maine became a state on March 15, 1820 and the Legislature adopted the language governing the Seal’s design on June 9. The description had been drafted by a short-lived Committee under the direction of first Senate President William Moody; Colonel Isaac G. Reed of Waldoboro is credited with the Seal’s description and explanation.

Note the archaic language in the above statute, still alive in Maine law; the Latin phrase for the pine tree derives from a classification system no longer used by botanists, for example.

The actual appearance of the Seal has varied over the years, all the variations based on the language above. The first sketch of the Seal was markedly different from later versions; the “moose” looked like a deer, the shield was more conventional, the scythe was held with the blade on the ground. Later variations included the scythe being held behind the husbandman’s head, and in one case, the inexplicable substitution of a sextant for the mariner’s anchor.

Secretary Of State Modern

Secretary Of State Modern

There is little statutory guidance for coloring the Seal other than the description of the blue-background State Flag in Title 1 sec. 206. The present design was fixed by the Legislature in 1919.

Use

Non-commercial use of the Seal by state agencies, on letterheads or in movies for example, is unregulated. Use of the Seal for commercial purposes is governed by Title 1 sec. 204 and requires permission from the Governor.

Governor's Council Letterhead

Governor’s Council Letterhead

The Seals below are primarily 19th century versions found among the records of the agencies noted.

Executive Department Detail

Executive Department Detail

Maine State Museum

Maine State Museum

Governor's Council Chamber

Governor’s Council Chamber

Adjutant General's Office

Adjutant General’s Office

Secretary of State

Secretary of State

Unknown Source

Unknown Source

Additional resources

Maine. Secretary of State. “The Great Seal of the State of Maine.”  Augusta, Me. 1995.

Maine. Secretary of State. “Souvenir Impression of the Great Seal of the State of Maine.” Augusta, Me. 1960? [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]

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