What’s The Meaning Behind Your Mark?

great-seal-768-blog

(Top two rows) A source of company and family pride. The KHT gear & flame mark.
(Bottom two rows) A source of pride in this great country. The Great Seal of the United States in development and in use today.

 

Here at Kowalski Heat Treating, we’re really proud of our company name and logo mark. Designed by Dad and Mom, and updated over the years, it is a simple representation of a gear and a flame, initially denoting heat treating and the symbiotic relationship with the manufacturing world. It also uses our black and red “branding”, and after 40 years I am still thrilled to see our logo! (Hey that’s us!)

When we use it as our letterhead, put it on a mug, hang it on our buildings or stamp it into our work, it embodies the virtues we hold dear – teamwork, family, quality, honesty, reliability, hard work, friendship, trust – and a little bit of fun! I’m guessing, like the mark you use at your place, our “logo” is shorthand for everything we do for our customers – sort of our “KHT Stamp of Quality” and recognition of the great partnership as We specialize in those PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs!™ every day (This is now trademarked!!!!)

On this day in 1782, a very special event took place – the first official use of the Great Seal of the United States. Like our KHT logo, it’s filled with history, purpose and meaning. So for fun, I decided to look it up on Wikipedia (wow, what a story to be proud of). So, in this political season, it’s extra interesting to harken back and learn what our forefathers had in mind as they created our collective USA mark. Enjoy.

 

  • The Great Seal of the United States is used to authenticate certain documents issued by the U.S. federal government. The phrase is used both for the physical seal itself, kept by the U.S. Secretary of State, and more generally for the design impressed upon it.
  • The obverse (front) of the great seal is used as the national coat of arms of the United States. It is officially used on documents such as United States passports, military insignia, embassy placards, and various flags. As a coat of arms, the design has official colors; the physical Great Seal itself, as affixed to paper, is monochrome.
  • The design on the front of the seal is the coat of arms of the United States. The shield, though sometimes drawn incorrectly, has two main differences from the American flag. First, it has no stars on the blue chief and second, unlike the American flag, the outermost stripes are white, not red; so as not to violate the “heraldic rule of tincture” (now that’s something to look up!).
  • The supporter of the shield is a bald eagle with its wings outstretched (or “displayed,” in heraldic terms). From the eagle’s perspective, it holds a bundle of 13 arrows in its left talon, (referring to the 13 original states), and an olive branch in its right talon, together symbolizing that the United States has “a strong desire for peace, but will always be ready for war.” Although not specified by law, the olive branch is usually depicted with 13 leaves and 13 olives, again representing the 13 original states. The eagle has its head turned towards the olive branch, on its right side, said to symbolize a preference for peace. In its beak, the eagle clutches a scroll with the motto E pluribus unum (“Out of Many, One”). Over its head there appears a “glory” with 13 mullets (stars) on a blue field. In the current (and several previous) dies of the great seal, the 13 stars above the eagle are arranged in rows of 1-4-3-4-1, forming a six-pointed star.
  • The 1782 resolution adopting the seal blazons the image on the reverse as “A pyramid unfinished. In the zenith an eye in a triangle, surrounded by a glory, proper.” The pyramid is conventionally shown as consisting of 13 layers to refer to the 13 original states. The adopting resolution provides that it is inscribed on its base with the date MDCCLXXVI (1776, the year of the United States Declaration of Independence) in Roman numerals. Where the top of the pyramid should be, the Eye of Providence watches over it. Two mottos appear: Annuit cœptis signifies that Providence has “approved of (our) undertakings.” Novus ordo seclorum, freely taken from Virgil, is Latin for “a new order of the ages.” The reverse has never been cut (as a seal) but appears, for example, on the back of the one-dollar bill.
  • The primary official explanation of the symbolism of the great seal was given by Charles Thomson secretary of the Continental Congress (1774–1789) upon presenting the final design for adoption by Congress. He wrote:

The Escutcheon is composed of the chief & pale, the two most honorable ordinaries. The Pieces, paly, represent the several states all joined in one solid compact entire, supporting a Chief, which unites the whole & represents Congress. The Motto alludes to this union. The pales in the arms are kept closely united by the chief and the Chief depends upon that union & the strength resulting from it for its support, to denote the Confederacy of the United States of America & the preservation of their union through Congress. The colours of the pales are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, the colour of the Chief signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice. The Olive branch and arrows denote the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in Congress. The Constellation denotes a new State taking its place and rank among other sovereign powers. The Escutcheon is born on the breast of an American Eagle without any other supporters to denote that the United States of America ought to rely on their own Virtue. On the Reverse, the pyramid signifies Strength and Duration: The Eye over it & the Motto allude to the many signal interpositions of providence in favour of the American cause. The date underneath is that of the Declaration of Independence and the words under it signify the beginning of the new American Era, which commences from that date.

  • In the Department of State, the term “Great Seal” refers to a physical mechanism which is used by the department to affix the seal to official government documents. This mechanism includes not only the die (metal engraved with a raised inverse image of the seal), but also the counter die), the press, and cabinet in which it is housed. There have been several presses used since the seal was introduced, but none of the mechanisms used from 1782 through 1904 have survived. The seal, and apparently its press, was saved when Washington, D.C. was burned in 1814 though no one knows by whom.
  • The press in use today was made in 1903 by R. Hoe & Co’s chief cabinetmaker Frederick S. Betchley in conjunction with the 1904 die, with the cabinet being made of mahogany.
  • The seal can only be affixed by an officer of the Department of State, under the authority of the Secretary of State. To seal a document, first a blank paper wafer is glued onto its front in a space provided for it. The document is then placed between the die and counter die, with the wafer lined up between them. Holding the document with one hand, the weighted arm of the press is pulled with the other, driving the die down onto the wafer, impressing the seal in relief. When envelopes containing letters need to be sealed, the wafer is imprinted first and then glued to the sealed envelope. It is used approximately 2,000 to 3,000 times a year.
  • Documents which require the seal include treaty ratifications, international agreements, appointments of ambassadors and civil officers, and communications from the President to heads of foreign governments. The seal was once required on presidential proclamations, and on some now-obsolete documents such as exequaturs and Mediterranean passports.
  • On August 4, 1945, a delegation from the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union presented a carved wooden plaque of the Great Seal to U.S. Ambassador W. Averell Harriman, as a “gesture of friendship” to the USSR’s allies of World War II. Concealed inside was a covert remote listening device called The Thing. It hung in the ambassador’s Moscow residential study for seven years, until it was exposed in 1952 during the tenure of Ambassador George F. Kennan.
  • Some conspiracy theories state that the Great Seal shows a sinister influence by Freemasonry in the founding of the United States. Such theories usually claim that the Eye of Providence (found, in the Seal, above the pyramid) is a common Masonic emblem, and that the Great Seal was created by Freemasons. These claims, however, misstate the facts. According to David Barrett, a Masonic researcher, the Eye seems to have been used only sporadically by the Masons in those decades, and was not adopted as a common Masonic symbol until 1797, several years after the Great Seal of the United States had already been designed.

If this resonates with you, give me a call and let me know about “your” mark and what it means to your employees and company.

 

 


 

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please prove you aren't a robot: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.