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Minnesota Territorial Seal, 1849

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

This is the official iron stamp of the Minnesota territorial seal showing a farmer plowing, a tree stump and ax, and an American Indian on horseback with lance in hand riding toward a setting sun. The motto above the design reads “Quo sursum velo videre”; this is a misprint of the intended Latin phrase “Quae sursum volo videre” (“I wish to see what is beyond”). Encircling the seal is “THE GREAT SEAL OF MINNESOTA. 1849.” The manufacturer’s trademark “D. O. HARE.W.C.” is stamped on the face of the seal and also on the rim.

The seal design (adopted in 1849) was from a sketch by Col. J. J. Albert and redesigned by Capt. Seth Eastman, as seen in this watercolor by Eastman.

Two other designs were considered by a special legislative committee for a new Great Seal of Minnesota upon achieving statehood in 1858.  However, it fell to Governor Sibley to have the state seal engraved, and he decided to stick with the original territorial seal (for which he was largely responsible) with minor modifications. Sibley got rid of the misspelled Latin and added “L’etoile du Nord” (“The North Star”); the direction of the American Indian and Farmer are reversed on the state seal; and it reads “The Great Seal of the State of Minnesota, 1858.”

In 1981, the original engraved state seal from 1858 was part of a Minnesota Statehood display in the Minnesota State Capitol. When the exhibit was deinstalled in 1984, the original 1858 seal was misplaced. The Society continues its efforts to find the seal, in hopes of restoring it to its place alongside the engraved territorial seal in the MNHS Collection.

Come see the Minnesota Territorial Seal and much more in our new Library Lobby display Icons of Minnesota, on view during Library open hours now through August 30, 2014!

We are fortunate to have so many great objects telling the early history of Minnesota in the Collections. To learn more, visit:

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Fleck’s Beer Salt and Pepper Set

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Fleck's Beer Salt and Pepper Set

Fleck’s Beer salt and pepper shaker set. Two deep brown glass miniature beer bottles with crown-type metal caps. Each has a neck band that read reads “Felsenkeller / FLECK’S Brau” with a tiny insignia for “FLECKS BEER.” The larger label shows wooden kegs, a circular insignia for “FLECKS / BEER” and the text “STRONG BEER / BREWED & BOTTLED BY / Ernst Fleckenstein Brewing Co. / FARIBAULT, MINN.” circa 1930-50.

For details, view this set in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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“Descriptive Study/Greg” by Jerry Rudquist

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

“Descriptive Study/Greg” by Jerry Rudquist

Large oil on board painting made by Minnesota artist Jerry Rudquist in 1990.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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“Steel and Stone” by Robert Edwards

Monday, June 24th, 2013

“Steel and Stone” by Robert EdwardsSteel and Stone by Robert Edwards

Gouache on board painting of the Chicago Great Western Railway Bridge and the Robert Street Bridge in downtown St. Paul, 1987.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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Gopher Ordnance Works Patch

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Gopher Ordnance Works patch
Patch from Gopher Ordnance Works, Rosemount, Minnesota. In use during WWII.

For details, view this patch in our collections database.

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Minnesota beers bumper sticker

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Minnesota beers bumper sticker

Purple bumper sticker with ‘Best Beers Are Minnesota Brewed’ and an image of the state of Minnesota in white with the names of Minnesota breweries in red “COLD SPRING/GRAIN BELT/HAMM’S/SCHELL’S/SCHMIDT’S.” Circa 1975.

For details, view this bumper sticker in our collections database.

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Famous Minnesota Beards

Friday, June 7th, 2013

In support of all the Minnesotans competing in the Border Battles Facial Hair Competition, sponsored by The Minneapolis Beard and Moustache Club on June 8, 2013, the Minnesota Historical Society presents a selection of some our favorite beards of Minnesota’s past.

Portrait of Harry Wild Jones

This is a portrait of Harry Wild Jones who was an influential Minneapolis architect and lover of goatees. He is credited with introducing the Shingle Style of architecture to Minneapolis and is probably best known as the designer of the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel and the Washburn Park Water Tower.

The man in this ambrotype portrait is John Harrington Stevens, an early settler of what would become Minneapolis and member of the first state legislature. You can admire his beard in person by visiting a statue of him located in Minnehaha Park.

As you can guess from the photograph, this is William B. Mitchell. Minnesota Supreme Court Judge, namesake of the William Mitchell College of Law and moustache aficionado.

William Watts Folwell, in addition to having a rather contemplative beard, was the first president of the University of Minnesota and has a building on the East Bank campus named after him.

This tintype portrait, circa 1880, is of Judson A. Bly a miller who lived and worked in Forestville, Minnesota. Forestville is now a ghost town located in Forestville State Park and is still reportedly haunted by Bly’s Hulihee style beard.

The man with all the medals on his chest and hair on his lip is Lucius F. Hubbard. He was an orphan who moved to Red Wing, Minnesota at the age of 21. He joined the 5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at the outbreak of the Civil War and in 1881 he was elected governor. The Minnesota county of Hubbard is named after him.

The man with the sideburns is Dorilus Morrison, the first (and third) mayor of Minneapolis and founder the Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis which would later become Wells Fargo.

Last but not least, this photograph made by a Minneapolis Star-Tribune photographer in 1937 shows the world famous professional wrestler Farmer Tobin taking in a relaxing game of golf in Minnesota between bouts. He combined a 6 foot 7 inch frame with a tattoo collection and massive beard to make a formidable wrestling persona.

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“Common Shooting Star” by John Berglund

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

A watercolor painting of the Common Shooting Star prairie wildflower made by John Berglund for the WPA Federal Art project in 1938.

For details, view this watercolor in our collections database.

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They Chose Minnesota: Immigration to the North Star State

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Immigrants are an important part of the Minnesota story. This episode looks at immigration through what people brought with them to their new home. What was useful, what held memories, what shows why they had to leave?

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Believe Me True: Victorian Valentines, 1840 – 1900

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

This episode features Victorian valentines from the Minnesota Historical Society’s collections, dating from 1840 to 1900. While the designs are vintage, the feelings expressed are timeless.

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Produced by Lizzie Ehrenhalt

For more valentines, see Collections Online.

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs