Friday, January 2, 2015

Schenectady's City Seal

Reverse image of Schenectady city seal. Image from Seal of Schenectady clipping file, collections of the Grems-Doolittle Library.  

Marriage licenses, birth and death certificates, proclamations, resolutions, and bonds are just a few of the many documents that have been embossed with official seals. Cities and towns use seals to show that a document has been authorized or authored by a government entity.

Schenectady's official seal was adopted on January 3, 1801. Here are some fun facts about the city seal, as we celebrate its 214th birthday:
  • The sheaf of wheat in Schenectady's seal is taken from the coat of arms of the Joseph C. Yates family. Yates was the city's first mayor and the eighth governor of New York State. The city had used Yates' family crest as its unofficial seal from the years 1798-1801, before an official city seal was adopted. 
  • William Corlett was the man commissioned to have a proper official seal engraved, which was to incorporate a sheaf of wheat. Perhaps thinking that two was better than one, Corlett added a second sheaf to the design before sending it to an engraver. Upon receipt of the engraving, the city fathers rejected Corlett's image and had a seal remade with only one sheaf of wheat. 
  • In Schenectady's City Hall, all of the doorknobs and the backs of chairs, and many of the doorways are finished with the city seal. 

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