The Great Seal
Symbols of the state’s cultural history are found in the Great Seal of New Jersey
How well do you know the official seal of our state? The horse, representing speed and strength, is New Jersey’s state animal. Liberty, standing at the left, symbolizes the fight for independence from England. The other figure, Ceres, is the Roman goddess of grain. Coupled with the three plows on the center shield, Ceres represents the agricultural might of the Garden State. All of these symbols appear in the unknown artist’s version of the Great Seal displayed here. Until 1923, this ceremonial shield hung in the New Jersey State House and was used as a backdrop at the inauguration ceremonies of incoming governors.
New Jersey’s first legislature resolved to create the state’s original seal in 1776. Designed by a French immigrant and cast in silver, the coin-shaped seal measured two and a half inches in diameter. In 1928, a joint resolution of the legislature standardized the appearance and authorized the casting of another seal. As a symbol of authority and the sovereignty of the state, the Great Seal is used to authenticate official documents.