What Is the History of the State Seal of Maine?

Liz Thomas
Liz Thomas
The state seal of Maine displays a moose, which is also the state animal.
The state seal of Maine displays a moose, which is also the state animal.

The state seal of Maine contains images that are important to the state, including the state tree, animal, and motto. The first seal was created when Maine became a state, and the basic images have remained generally the same. Legislation was put into place to provide detailed information on the images found on the seal. It is only used by the Secretary of the State of Maine and is found on the state flag.

The state seal of Maine includes a shield containing the image of a moose at the foot of a pine tree. On the right side of the pine is a farmer with a scythe, and on the left side, a seamen leaning on an anchor. The foreground of the seal depicts a representation of land and sea. Underneath the shield is the name "Maine" in capital letters. Above the shield is the North Star and the word dirigio, Latin for "I lead", the Maine state motto.

The first state seal of Maine became official in 1820, three months after Maine became a state. The original design was thought to have been created by Colonel Isaac G. Reed. All subsequent seals are based on the description from the 1820 statute, but some variations include a deer instead of a moose and the farmer holding the scythe with the blade toward the ground rather than in a resting position. The statute does not include any color information for the seal except for a description of the blue background used on the flag.

Since 1919, there have been no variations on the state seal. Legislation was passed that provided a strict description of the images on the seal, which is still followed today. The moose and pine tree are also the state tree and the state animal.

The official state seal of Maine is made of cast iron and is an embosser, a tool that creates a three dimensional design on paper. The seal embosser and several smaller versions are used to imprint the state seal of Maine on official documents. While this official seal belongs to the secretary of state, the seal is also an image that can be found on many objects.

The seal is also found on other state symbols, as it is featured on the Maine state flag. A modified state seal is used on the marine flag, but this version does not contain the farmer, only the seaman.

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Discussion Comments


I have to say that I am interested in the symbolism depicted in the state seals and state flags and I am wondering why the state of Maine did not go a different route as far as choosing what to use in their design?

I know that most of the original thirteen colonies utilized their part they took in the Revolutionary War, by celebrating the independence of the nation in their seals or flags.

I know that Maine was not a state at the time and was not so for fifty more years, but their troops did play a major role in achieving independence for the nation and I am quite surprised they do not depict it in either their flag or seal.

I am only asking this because most of the other states of New England go this route and choose to reflect their role in the Revolution, but Maine seems to be completely different.


@Emilski - I have to say there is a lot of debate going on for such a simple thing as a design of a state seal and state flag.

Fact is, a state seal and flag are simply supposed to be something that shows the differences between the states and maybe the state of Maine simply likes their state seal and feels like it sums up their state perfectly, so they decided to incorporate it on the state flag in order to save the taxpayers money to get an artist to commission a completely different design.


@kentuckycat - I agree with you as far as picking the design of the state seal goes, but I really do not see why they picked the exact same design as the state seal to incorporate on their state flag.

I feel like they could have commissioned any number of things to be depicted on their state flag, such as fishermen, a boat, a lighthouse, the shores of Maine, the state itself, or any number of things that would have made it unique, but they chose a design that had already been used for something.

A state flag is supposed to mean something to the people that live in the state and call it home and by simply using the same symbol to be both the state seal and the state flag is somewhat lazy from my perspective.

I do not think it is too hard a venture to commission someone to make a good state flag that can be used to depict the culture of the state, without stealing a design that has already been used in some other state sponsored enterprise.


I see that the state of Maine follows along with the trend to pick something associated with the state and makes their state unique as opposed to simply picking a seal that may be perceived as being a knock off of another seal or simply something that looks official.

Too many times have I seen a state seal that is just made to look official and does not necessarily reflect anything about the state.

The state seal seems to incorporate a lot about the state, such as the state tree, the moose and the seaman. All of these are symbols of the state that make it unique from other states and actually makes an attempt to make the state individually stand out.

Some people may complain that they are lazy for also making this symbol their state flag, but considering that Maine is a small state, with a sparse population, there is not as much to choose from in picking another symbol, and why ignore the design of their state seal, which sums up the culture of the state well to begin with?

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    • The state seal of Maine displays a moose, which is also the state animal.
      The state seal of Maine displays a moose, which is also the state animal.