Object Record

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Catalog Number 01.C.44
Object Name Seal
Title Great Seal of Pennsylvania
Artist Unknown
Date ca. 1699
Description Great Seal of Pennsylvania. Large wax double-sided seal. Obverse: Penn family crest. Above crest: "[M]ERC[Y]." Below crest: "[J]VST[I]C[E]." Around perimeter: "[W]ILLIAM [PEN]N PROPRIAT[O]R [AND] GOVER[NOR] [OF] [PEN]NSILVANIA." Reverse: At center, three ears of corn, forming a trefoil, alternating with three sticks entwined with grapevines. Around inner perimeter: "TRUTH [PE]ACE [L]OVE AND PLE[NTY] 1699." Ring of wheat around outer perimeter.
Label This Great Seal was used in 1699 to authenticate government documents in the Province of Pennsylvania. William Penn’s "holy experiment" began in 1681, when the 37-year old Quaker convert received a royal grant of an immense tract of land in North America out of "Regard to the memorie and meritts of his late father," a royalist admiral during the English Civil War. From the beginning, Penn sought to govern his self-named province by Quaker-inspired principles of equality and tolerance. Though Penn did not spend much time in Pennsylvania, he did return to the province in 1699, when this seal was used. The obverse of the Seal is based on the Penn family's coat of arms. The APS Library holds Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges, the document that formally established a stable frame of government in the province.
Material Wax
Dimensions D-0.25 Dia-4 inches
Credit line American Philosophical Society
Search Terms 17th century
seventeenth century