Honolulu City Seal celebrates 110 years this Sunday

The Honolulu City Seal celebrates its 110th anniversary this Sunday. Approved by the city’s Board of Supervisors on Feb. 10, 1909, the seal is used to authenticate all of the city’s official papers and instruments that require execution or certification by the City and County Clerk. 

Mr. Viggo Jacobsen and the Honolulu City Seal (portrait from The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, February 27, 1896).

The seal was designed by Denmark-native Viggo Jacobsen, a pen artist and world traveler. In 1896, Jacobsen won $50 for a competition to design the seal of the Republic of Hawai‘i, and the Honolulu City Seal, also designed by Jacobsen, is an offshoot of the state emblem. 

“Every time I look at our City Seal I feel a sense of pride,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “To me the seal tells the story of who we are as a people and the things we cherish. We are a diverse and welcoming community that honors its host culture, respects the natural beauty that we are blessed with, and always looks to the future with optimism and hope. Mr. Jacobsen did a wonderful job expressing all of those ideals 110 years ago, and his work will continue to be a part of Honolulu’s rich history.”

The Honolulu City Seal is described as a heraldic shield in quarters: The first and fourth quarters bear the stripes and colors of the Hawaiian flag. The center features the star of Hawai‘i against a green background, and is said to have represented the hope that one day the “Star of Hawai‘i” would be placed on the United States flag.

Two “kapu” sticks, which signify authority of government, adorn the other two quarters of the coat of arms. Supporting the shield are the Nu‘uanu Pali cliffs on the right side, and iconic Diamond Head, also known as Le‘ahi, on the left side. The crest is a rising sun above the shield, and the whole is surrounded by a legend- CITY AND COUNTY OF HONOLULU (above) and STATE OF HAWAII (below).

“The seal of the City and County of Honolulu has remained steadfast since its inception in 1909, although a major change occurred in 1959 when ‘Territory of Hawaii’ was replaced with ‘State of Hawaii,’” said Tory Laitila, registrar of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts. “The seal serves as a symbol of Honolulu and is used by the city in a variety of ways, from stationary to marking its vehicles. It is even on the City and County of Honolulu Flag, which was adopted in 1960 and displays the City Seal on a field of ‘ilima or golden yellow, the city’s official color.”

Jacobsen was born in Denmark and worked as an insurance agent in Melbourne, Australia before moving to Honolulu, where as a penman he was given the telephone number 16. He held many jobs during his time on O‘ahu, from clerk to newspaper writer, and was even a part of the staff at Theo H. Davies & Co.

Jacobsen also worked for the government legislature after the death of King Kalākaua, and was responsible for engrossing resolutions and condolences for a period of four months. Jacobsen died of pneumonia at Queen’s Hospital on Jan. 9, 1910 at about 50 years of age, less than a year after Honolulu’s City Seal was officially approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania, In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. One day, she might figure out how to put that master’s degree to use.

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