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Minneapolis goes not-quite high-tech with official city seal

Seal of the City of Minneapolis
City of Minneapolis
Seal of the City of Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis has moved from Middle Ages technology to that of the 1860s with the purchase of a rubber stamp bearing the official city seal.

That does not mean the folks in the City Clerk’s Office are abandoning the earlier technology — they’re keeping three cast-iron embossers that affix the seal via a bronze plate.

 But now they have the option of the rubber stamp.

“The seal is the official device of municipal government,” says City Clerk Casey Carl who, along with his staff, applies the seal to all ordinances, resolutions and official acts.  The seal, Carl says, guarantees the document is “something you can trust.”

The new rubber stamp was purchased recently after the handle on one of the cast-iron embossers broke.  The embossers are no longer being manufactured, and there are no replacement parts available.

But Carl found a company in New Mexico that purchases the cast-iron bodies from antique dealers and installs the bronze seals. The new antique embosser is now in the clerk’s office.  He now also has authority to use a rubber stamp on official documents.

There is an antique plaque of the city seal hanging in City Council Chambers. It originally came from the old Convention Center.

A second seal plaque that hung in the in the previous City Council Chambers from 1967 until 2001, is on display in Room 132, a meeting room at City Hall. That copy of the seal, which is 5 feet in diameter, once hung in the old Minneapolis Auditorium. 

The Minneapolis seal was adopted on June 5, 1878.  The outer rim is a circle of rope surrounding a shield showing St. Anthony Falls and the old suspension bridge that once linked Nicollet Island with the west bank of the Mississippi.

Next to the falls are the old Mills that once dominated the riverfront. In the background are smokestacks from long-gone factories.

Piled in front of the Falls are symbols of the city’s early economic mainstays: a plowshare, a shock of grain, a barrel of flour, a gear wheel, a circular saw blade and a stack of lumber.

Did you know Minneapolis also has a motto?

The motto, “En Avant,” sits at the top of the shield above rays of light. It’s French for “Forward.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Neal Gendler on 12/21/2011 - 10:30 pm.

    Very clever, nice lede, Karen!

  2. Submitted by Tara Barenok on 12/22/2011 - 01:12 pm.

    There is (was?) an additional copy of the City Seal encased in a table in the finance department. It used to hang in a conference room which became the finance officer’s office. It was in storage when the department moved multiple times in the 2000’s. The building commission put it under the glass of a table.

  3. Submitted by Ray Lewis on 12/23/2011 - 10:59 am.

    Thanks for the history and current events lesson. I suppose other cities also have a story behind seals and what the various symbols represent.

    What would the current symbols be et En Avant?

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