The state seal of Nevada was designed by Alanson W. Nightingill, and was modeled on the territorial seal used by the Territory of Nevada prior to its statehood. Nightingill designed the seal in what is known as the pictorial heraldic style, which was popular in the 19th century. This style generally attempts to depict images symbolic of a state's resources, industry, and ideals. The images chosen for the state seal of Nevada include a quartz mill, a locomotive, a crew mining silver, and agriculture symbols, such as a plow and sickle. The design for the state seal of Nevada was officially approved on 24 February 1866, and was finally standardized across state documents in 1929.
Nevada became a territory of the United States in 1861, and began to work towards full statehood. A constitutional convention in 1863 hammered out the basic design of the state seal of Nevada. The convention accepted the pictorial design put forth by Alanson Nightingill. It borrowed the motto originally used on Nevada's territorial seal, which was "Volens et Potens," or "Willing and Able." A second constitutional convention in 1864 changed the state's official motto to "All For Our Country," which appears at the bottom of the state seal, inside a silver ring containing 36 stars.
The design of the state seal of Nevada incorporates elements symbolic of Nevada's mineral and agricultural resources, landscape, and technological progress. Bundles of wheat and agricultural implements can be found in the foreground of the image, and a quartz mill and silver mine are depicted in the mid-ground. Telegraph wires and a locomotive crossing a bridge can be seen in the background. Two rings border this image — an inner ring in silver and an outer one in gold. The 36 stars on the inner ring symbolize Nevada's position as the 36th state to enter the United States, while the outer gold ring bears the legend "Great Seal of the State of Nevada."
President Abraham Lincoln granted statehood to Nevada on 31 October 1864. The design for the state seal of Nevada was officially and finally adopted on 24 February 1866. Early reproductions of the state seal showed the locomotive's smoke trailing behind it, and the smoke from the mill drifting off to the right. The design was again changed in 1929, when it was decided that both plumes of smoke should trail off to the left.