TACWM logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Object Name Seal
Catalog Number 0985.13.00229
Date April 1864
Description The Official Great Seal of the Confederacy is made of silver, three-quarters of an inch thick and three and five-eighths inches in diameter, weighing three pounds. The face of the seal contains a center equestrian portrait of George Washington surrounded by concentric wreath composed of the main agricultural products of the South - sugar cane, rice, cotton, and tobacco. The following raised and reversed lettering encircle the wreath, "CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA / FEBRUARY 22, 1862 / DEO VINDICE." The bone handle screws onto the seal's reverse side. Housed in a hinged leather box (.229a).
Dimensions H-0.75 Dia-3.625 inches
Made Joseph S. Wyon, London, England, Great Britain
Provenance The Great Seal of the Confederacy was intended to be the official governmental seal for all documents generated by the Executive branch of the Confederate States of America. The device of the seal was decided upon on April 30, 1863. Secretary of State Judah Benjamin contacted James Mason, the Confederacy's diplomatic representative in London, England, with the instruction that he commission the seal's manufacture. Joseph S. Wyon, Chief Engraver of Her Majesty's Seals, designed and cast the seal in silver, completing the piece by April 12, 1864. Fearing that the seal might be captured on its route from London to Richmond, Mason waited to receive word from Secretary Benjamin regarding plans for transporting the seal. On July 6, 1864 Lieutenant Robert Chapman of the Confederate States Navy was entrusted with the small box containing the seal to be carried in a leather satchel.
After the evacuation of Richmond the seal, along with other documents relating to the Department of State, were hidden by clerk William J. Bromwell, at the request of the Secretary of State. It was taken to Charlotte, NC (according to one tradition, Mrs. Bromwell hid the seal in her clothing) and stored with other Confederate records in the county court house. After the fall of the Confederacy, attorney John T. Pickett was charged with disposing of the materials; but he retained the Seal as a portion of his fee. Reproductions of the seal were made to raise funds for Southern widows and orphans. In recognition for the contributions of Lt. Thomas Selfridge to that project, Pickett gave him the seal. The whereabouts of the seal were unknown for many years, until determined in 1912 by Gaillard Hunt of the Library of Congress. Three Richmond citizens -- Eppa Hunton, William H. White, and Thomas P. Bryan -- purchased the seal for $3,000, and presented it as a loan to the museum in 1915; the loan was later subsequently converted to a gift.
People Mason, James
Benjamin, Judah
Wyon, Joseph S.
Chapman, Robert T.
Bromwell, William J.
Pickett, John T.
Selfridge, Thomas
Hunton, Eppa
White, William H.
Bryan, Thomas P.
Search Terms Richmond, Virginia
items hidden from Union soldiers
Evacuation of Richmond, April 2-3, 1865
Confederate States Navy
Subjects Aid (Relief)
Blockade running
Fund raisers
Fund raising
Hidden property
Relief (Aid)