It was in 1791, when the Pennsylvania General Assembly adopted an act which provided the official Great Seal of the State of Pennsylvania. The seal is seen as “a symbol of authenticity which verifies that proclamations, commissions and other papers of the state are legal and official”. Unlike the majority of other state seals, the Pennsylvania state seal has a reverse side in addition to the obverse side.

The obverse side, and most commonly seen side is identical to the official state coat of arms, only without the horses and motto banner. You can see a sailing ship, which symbolizes carrying state commerce to all the different places in the world, a clay-red plow, which showcases Pennsylvania’s abundance of natural resources, and three sheaves of wheat, displaying fertile fields and the state’s agricultural significance.

On the left hand side of the shield you can see a stalk of Indian corn and to the right you will see an olive branch, which symbolizes peace and prosperity. The crest displayed on the shield is an eagle and the design is encircled by the words “Seal of the State of Pennsylvania”.

Pennsylvania state seal

What is Pennsylvania’s Reverse Seal?

The reverse side of Pennsylvania’s state seal shows liberty vs tyranny. A woman is representing liberty, with her left hand holding a wand topped by a liberty cap, and her right hand clutching onto a drawn sword. She is stamping over tyranny, which is represented by a lion. The legend that circles the reverse side of the seal reads, “Both Can’t Survive” – a powerful quote and a powerful story depicted.

Most states will have their seals showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its founding and history, and this fact about the Keystone State is certainly no different, embodying everything that Pennsylvania stands for.