Official Dies of the Great Seal of the United States
The first die was cut in September 1782. It is 2 3/8 inches in diameter, made of iron or steel with a brass surface.
When the first die became worn out, it was replaced by the Throop die in 1841 (which incorrectly had only six arrows instead of the required thirteen).
In 1825, a special die for treaties was cut and used concurrently with the first two dies. Larger and more elegant, the Masi treaty-seal was used for pendant seals.
The Baumgarten die was cut in 1877. This fourth official die is almost identical to the 1841 die, including the wrong number of arrows.
A major effort went into creating the fifth die, the Tiffany die of 1885, whose design is the one we see today. After 17 years, a worn counter die led to improvements in the Great Seal press and the cutting of a sixth die, the Zeitler die of 1904. It is identical in design to to the Tiffany die.
Based on the Zeitler die, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing made a master die in 1986 and struck the die in use today the seventh Great Seal die.
The U.S. government's most accurate medal engravings of the Great Seal are the Indian Peace Medals given out by President George Washington in the 1790s and the Centennial Medal of 1882. They are based accurately on the official written description that defines the appearance of the Great Seal.
Historical content is based on the official history of the Great Seal.
Author and webwright: John D. MacArthur