The State Seal was established on 19 June 1925 by the National Coat of Arms Act. The design of the seal shows a large image of the national coat of arms, with the text EESTI VABARIIK arching over it. The seal is 7 cm in diameter. The seal was used to stamp letters appointing and recalling ambassadors, patents of consuls, and documents ratifying conventions and foreign agreements. The State Seal was also used to seal the envelopes of credentials and letters of recall to ambassadors. The Secretary of State was appointed Keeper of the State Seal.
The first State Seal was commissioned from the London firm Waterlow & Sons Limited, and the seal was delivered in the spring of 1926.
What happened to the State Seal?
When Estonia was occupied in 1940, the use of all state insignia of the Republic of Estonia was banned.
The symbols of the Republic of Estonia came back into use in the late 1980s. In 1993, the National Coat of Arms Act, which also reinstituted the State Seal, was passed, as it had been in the Act of 1925. As the fate of the pre-occupation State Seal was unknown, the 2nd State Seal of the Republic of Estonia was made in Finland.
In August of 2008, Maris Ausma visited the Secretary of State and gave him the steel mould and the copper punch die of the first State Seal. Her grandfather Peeter Peips (30 May 1904 –11 June 1985) had worked as a painter in the Office of the President, and during the Soviet occupation, he had found the press dies that had been removed from the stamping machine. The press dies of the first Estonian State Seal had been hidden in the attic of the administrative building. Peeter Peips took the press dies home in an empty paint bucket and kept them until the end of his life.
82 years later, the first State Seal was returned to the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State affirms the credentials of ambassadors or letters recalling ambassadors, and letters of ratification or denunciation of conventions and international agreements with the State Seal. All use of the State Seal is recorded.
Artist Jüri Kask painted the portraits of the three statesmen, Otto Tief, Ants Piip and Heinrich Mark, that are on display on the walls of the State Seal Hall.
The interior designer of the State Seal Hall is Vaikla Disain (Argo Vaikla, Katrin Vaikla, Mari-Liis Süld).
Tartu Peace Treaty
The memorial copy of the Tartu Peace Treaty, with the signatures of the members of the peace delegations and other participants, who attended the banquet after the official signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty at 00:47 on 2 February 1920, is on display in the State Seal Hall.
The original copy of the Tartu Peace Treaty is kept in the National Archives. In 2012, the National Archives were officially transferred from the Government Office's administrative division to the governance section of the Ministry of Education and Research, and the State Archivist handed the memorial copy over to the Secretary of State.
Printing dies for the national coat of arms
In 1925, the Riigikogu adopted the National Coat of Arms Act and the standard image of the national coat of arms. However, the standard image that was approved was extremely detailed and therefore hard to copy. In the 1920s, the decision was taken to simplify the image of the coat of arms. In 2005, the simplified standard image of the national coat of arms was adopted.
In June 2010, the printing of Riigi Teataja (The State Gazette) on paper was discontinued. In 2011, the responsibility for publishing Riigi Teataja was transferred from the Government Office to the Ministry of Justice, and the Head of Department of Riigi Teataja officially handed the printing dies of the national coat of arms over to the Secretary of State.
Printing plate of the Head of State Konstantin Päts postage stamp
The printing plate for a postage stamp with the image of the face of President Konstantin Päts and a nominal value of 18 cents was produced in 1939. The State Publishing House printed 296,950 dark carmine red stamps. The printing plate was handed over to the Government Office when the Riigi Teataja Publishing House terminated its activities in 2007.
A complete exposition of Estonia’s national decorations of honour can be found in the State Seal Hall. Estonia has six national decorations of honour.
The first national decoration of honour was introduced in 1919, and the national honour system was fully developed in 1936. However, the national awards were destroyed by the Soviet regime. In 1994, following the restoration of independence, the Decorations Committee (headed by the Secretary of State) re-established the pre-war national decorations of honour and, on the suggestion of President Lennart Meri, the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana was added.
National badges and medals of honour are bestowed by the President of the Republic and the procedures related to the bestowing of national orders have been handled by the President's Office since 2008.
Another noteworthy exhibition in the State Seal Hall is the silverware collection, consisting mostly of gifts made to Estonian Heads of State.
The silverware collection includes precious objects from one of the most famous workshops in the world, the House of Fabergé, owned by Peter Carl Fabergé in St. Petersburg. The founder of this well-known company was the son of a goldsmith from Pärnu.
The oldest item in the collection is from Imperial Germany and dates back to the end of the 19th century. Some of the gifts have dedication inscriptions, while some items have the date of donation or presentation engraved on them.
Before the State Seal Hall, there is the Angel Hall, named after a relief depicting the allegorical female figure. The relief was carved out of limestone in the workshop of the Tallinn Renaissance master sculptor Arent Passer (1589-1637) in around the year 1625.
The original location and function of the relief in Tallinn are not known. It is likely that it was a stoop stone. The city of Tallinn gave the relief to the Government Office for continuous display in February 2001.
Last updated: 01.10.2020