“old seals were very curious affairs” — Georgia State Quarter Coin

Today, the Georgia State Quarter Coin remembers when the king ordered the silver dies for the Great Seal of the provincial government on June 21, 1754.

From A History of Georgia for Use in Schools by Lawton Bryan Evans, published in 1898:

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“Georgia continued, under the king’s government, to be one of the most free and happy countries in the world. Justice was regularly and impartially administered; oppression was unknown; the taxes levied on the subject were trifling; and every man that had industry became opulent.”— Stores’ Review of Georgia, 1783.

Upon assuming control of Georgia, the king ordered that the regulations of the Trustees should remain in force and that the officers then serving should continue in office until the council could agree upon a new form of government. Two years and five months passed before any change was made.

Meanwhile President Henry Parker continued in charge of the colony until his death, when Patrick Graham, of Augusta, became president. It was a period of great anxiety to the colonists, who were in doubt as to the future and in continual dread of attacks from the Indians.

There were at that time three forms of government among the English colonies in America. Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland were under proprietors, and were governed as Georgia had been under the Trustees. Rhode Island and Connecticut had charters — that is, written documents from the king, in which he gave them the privilege of electing their own governors and managing their own affairs, so long as they submitted to his supreme authority. The other colonies were called royal provinces, and each had a provincial government, consisting of a governor and council appointed by the king to represent him, and a lower legislative house elected by the people.

After long deliberation the Lords of the Council finally recommended that Georgia should be raised to the dignity of a royal province. This was approved by the king, and in 1754 he appointed Captain John Reynolds of the Royal Navy the first governor of the Province of Georgia.

As a royal province, Georgia was entitled to a great seal. Therefore, on the 21st of June, 1754, the king ordered the dies for the seal to be made of silver and engraved with the design selected as the coat of arms of the new province.

These old seals were very curious affairs. They were of wax, as large as a saucer and half an inch thick. When an official document was written and signed, holes were punched in the top of the pages and a piece of tape or ribbon was passed through these holes and tied, so as to fasten the sheets together. The ends of the tape were then placed between two round plates of wax softened by warming, and these pieces of wax were placed between the dies.

Pressure was then applied to the upper die, usually by a screw, so as to unite the two plates of wax. After the pressure was removed the dies were taken off, and a single piece of wax was found, bearing on either side in relief the figures that had been engraved on the dies. Such a piece of wax, thus stamped, was the great seal of the Province of Georgia, and was attached to official documents as a proof that they were genuine.

The illustrations on the accompanying pages represent one of these seals. They also show a portion of the document, with the holes and the tape by which the seal is attached.

The front of this seal, called the obverse, shows a female figure, representing the young Province of Georgia, kneeling before the king in token of her submission, and presenting him with a skein of silk, while the motto beneath, “Hinc laudem sperate coloni” — meaning, “Hence hope for praise,

 

colonists!” — notifies the colonists that the king still expected them to supply him with silk. The Latin words around the circumference mean, “The seal of our Province of Georgia in America.”

On the other side of the seal, called the reverse, is the coat of arms of George II.

Governor Reynolds arrived in Georgia October 29, 1754. As he landed at the bluff, the people crowded around and welcomed him with joy. At night bonfires were lighted and the houses were illuminated to show the delight of the people upon the arrival of the new governor. He took the oath of office and began his duties at once. His official title was “Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of his Majesty’s Province of Georgia, and Vice- Admiral of the same.” He was addressed as “Your Excellency.”

No officer in Georgia ever had such a magnificent title or filled so many offices as Governor Reynolds and the other royal governors. As captain-general he had entire control of the militia; as vice-admiral he commanded the naval forces; as governor he had the power of calling together, adjourning, and dissolving the General Assembly at will, and of vetoing (that is, refusing his consent to) any bill that was passed by the Assembly. He had charge of the great seal and was chancellor of the province. He presided in the Court of Errors, hearing bills from the lower courts, and as ordinary he had charge of the probate of wills and the administration of estates.

Although Governor Reynolds’s administration had begun so pleasantly, it did not prove satisfactory. He became involved in disputes with his Council and with the General Assembly, and much bitter feeling resulted. The people complained to the Lords Commissioners of the Board of Trade and Plantations, and that body, being satisfied that something was wrong, on August 3, 1756, summoned Governor Reynolds to appear before them. He remained in the province until a lieutenant-governor could be appointed and sent out to Savannah to relieve him.

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The Georgia State Quarter Coin shows with images of the Great Seal ordered June 21, 1754.

Georgia State Quarter Coin

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