National Geographic : 1946 Jul
Seals of Our Nation, States, and Territories tan rllotograpner 1lKmiar \ entzel The National Geographic Society's Secretary Impressing The Society's 50-year-old Seal on the Certificate of a Newly Elected Member Secretary Thomas W. McKnew signs and dates a certificate, then places the impression over the date. Each of The Society's members, who now number 1,450,000, receives this credential upon election to mem bership, which must be on nomination of someone already a member (page 34). AGRICULTURE, page 32. In 1862 Presi dent Lincoln approved an act of Congress cre ating a Department of Agriculture whose chief officer was called "Commissioner of Agriculture." In 1889 President Cleveland approved an act making it an executive department and its Sec retary a member of his Cabinet. These two dates are shown on the Department seal. A third date is implied, because the 44 stars represent the number of States in the Union in 1894 when Congress authorized a seal. The design is the work of A. H. Baldwin, an artist in the employ of the Department agros tologist (specialist in grasses), with the advice of artists of Bailey, Banks, and Biddle, Phila delphia. The shield in the center carries a shock of corn and a left-handed plow; that is, one that turns the furrow to the left rather than to the right. This plow has caused much com ment, but in 1894 "high-class farmers would use no other kind," according to one authority. Left handed plows are still listed in the Sears Roebuck catalogue. The streamer carries the motto "Agri culture Is the Foundation of Manufacture and Commerce." The seal is 23/ inches in diameter. The design in color is on the pediment over the center of the South Agriculture Building in Washington, D. C., and it appears on special exhibits prepared by the Department. COMMERCE, page 32. When Congress passed the bill for creation of a Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903, provision was made for a seal to be approved by the President. President Theodore Roosevelt subsequently ap proved a design recommended by the chief designer of the New York jewelry firm of Tiffany & Company. The seal depicted a shield with a full-rigged ship under sail at the top and an anvil and hammer below. In 1913 a separate Department of Labor was created, and the Department of Commerce, with the approval of President Wilson, changed the anvil and hammer to a lighthouse. The ship represents commerce, and the blue background indicates constancy. The lighthouse illustrated what was once an important function of the Department; the illumination is a symbol of duty in commercial enlightenment, and the gold denotes purity and sterling worth. The crest, on a wreath of gold and blue, is the American eagle and denotes the national scope of the Department.