On August 27, 1776, the Legislature of the State of New Jersey met in Princeton for the purpose of creating a symbol for the new state. Two months later, the Legislature selected one of its delegates to the Continental Congress, Francis Hopkinson, to facilitate the design of New Jersey’s state seal. Hopkinson subsequently hired Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere, a Swiss-born artist, to design the seal.
The Legislature specified that the Seal be made of silver and that it be “…round, of two and a half inches diameter, and three-eighths of an Inch thick, and that the Arms shall be three Ploughs in an Escutcheon; the Supporters, Liberty and Ceres, and the Crest, a Horse’s Head; these words to be engraved in large Letters around the Arms…’THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY.’”
Du Simitiere completed his design in October 1776, deviating slightly from what the Legislature ordered. He added a helmet beneath the horse’s head and put New Jersey’s date of statehood in Roman numerals at the shield’s center bottom.
On May 19, 1777, the seal was adopted by the Legislature, which was then meeting at the Indian King Tavern.
Several small changes have been made to the seal since its initial adoption. These changes pertain to the positioning of the female figures, the cornucopia and liberty staff. Another change was the use of Arabic rather than Roman numerals for the date of New Jersey’s statehood. The metal used to cast the seal was changed from silver to brass because the former was too soft a metal. The redesigned seal was officially adopted in March 1928.