The Pyramid on the Reverse Side of the U.S. Seal
The pyramid was originally suggested by William Barton, the consultant and artist on the third Great Seal committee in May 1782. For the seal's reverse side, he suggested, "A Pyramid of thirteen Strata, (or Steps)." His sketch is shown here on the left.
Barton was undoubtedly influenced by the pyramid on the $50 Continental Currency note (right) designed in 1778 by Francis Hopkinson, the heraldry consultant and artist on the second Great Seal committee (1780).
For the final design of the reverse side of the Great Seal, Charles Thomson specified "A Pyramid unfinished" and gave only a brief explanation of the symbolism, saying "The pyramid signifies strength and duration" no doubt influenced by the Great Pyramid of Egypt.
"A Pyramid Unfinished"
"The generation which commences a revolution
"American history is not something dead and over. It is always alive,
"The unfinished work of perfecting our union
Top illustration: detail of Terry Lamb's realization
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Copyright ©2013 by John D. MacArthur.