Designed by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere, the state seal of New Jersey was considered and approved by the New Jersey legislature in May of 1777. The symbols used in its design reflect the social and political attitudes of New Jersey's populace at that time. Over the years, the various elements of the design have retained their respective placement within the seal, while minor changes were made to several of the symbols. These modifications were codified by the state legislature in Joint Resolution 8 of the Laws of 1928. The 1928 changes marked the first time that New Jersey's year of statehood — 1776 — was first shown using Arabic numerals.
The state seal of New Jersey design was approved by the legislature in a meeting held at the Indian King Tavern in Haddonfield. Circular in design, it incorporated five symbols that held significance for New Jersey's early leaders and bears the text, "THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY" around its upper perimeter. A horse's head and a helmet appear in the center top portion of the seal. These crest-like figures reflect New Jersey's independent status as a state and speaks to its early adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Immediately below the helmet is a shield containing three plows, reflecting New Jersey's agricultural activity.
The female figure flanking the shield on the right is the Roman goddess Ceres, protector of grain, who cradles a cornucopia that also symbolizes New Jersey's preoccupation with agriculture and abundant crops. The female figure to the left of the shield is a representation of Liberty — a very popular design theme in post-colonial America. She wears a so-called "liberty cap" representing the U.S. and New Jersey's newly-won independence from Great Britain. The scroll that appears underneath the shield contains the motto of the state — Liberty and Prosperity — along with the year 1776, the year of New Jersey's statehood.
Over the years since its original creation, the state seal of New Jersey has undergone a number of subtle changes. Both female figures looked away from the shield in the original version of the state seal of New Jersey, while, as of 2011, they face the viewer. As of 2011, the Liberty figure holds a staff in her right hand, while the original seal showed her holding it within the crook of her left arm. The opening of the cornucopia or food basket held by the Ceres figure in the original seal faced the ground, where she now holds it facing up.