First Smithsonian Seal

ID: 2003-19535

Creator: Stabler, E (Edward) 1794-1883

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: c. 1847 or later

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 66, Folder: 2

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The first seal authorized by the Smithsonian Executive Committee of the Board of Regents, February 24, 1847. It was created by the engraver Edward Stabler, based on a bronze medallion portrait of James Smithson attributed to the Engraver General of France, Pierre Joseph Tiolier (1763-1819), which was part of Smithson's estate brought to this country in 1838 by Richard Rush. Edward Stabler designed the engraving on steel based on the Smithson medallion and a design by Smithsonian Regent, Robert Dale Owen. The seal is engraved with a profile view of the neo-classical bust of James Smithson, and the words Smithsonian Institution across the top and 1846 across the bottom. It remained in use until a new seal was designed in 1893.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Canova, Antonio 1757-1822
  • Owen, Robert Dale 1801-1877
  • Tiolier, Pierre Joseph 1763 - 1819
  • Board of Regents


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


See brochure from the Office of Architectural History entitled, 'The Smithsonian Seal: Symbol of the Institution.' The medallion was originally attributed to the Italian artist Antonio Canova, but the "T" mark on the medallion identifies it as created by Pierre Joseph Tiolier.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 66, Folder: 2

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


c. 1847 or later

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Portrait medallions
  • Art
  • Seals (Numismatics)
  • Art objects


  • Photographic print
  • Object

ID Number


Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 8w x 10h; Type of Image: Object; Medium: Photographic print

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