The Tribune (SLO) - - News / Obit­u­ar­ies - David Mid­dle­camp: 805-781-7942, @DavidMid­dle­camp

wrote a book­let in De­cem­ber 1982 out­lin­ing the his­tory of the county seal.

The orig­i­nal seal, adopted by San Luis Obispo County in 1883, shows a pas­toral cow county with the Mor­ros in the back­ground. An ex­am­ple can be seen above the door of the old court­house.

By 1971, county clerk Ruth Warnken said, the of­fi­cial seal had worn so badly that it was barely use­able, the em­bossed let­ters were al­most un­read­able.

Mean­while, about 1957, the county adopted an un­of­fi­cial em­blem de­signed by county pur­chas­ing agent Ty Eddy that was used on ve­hi­cles.

That em­blem had sil­hou­ettes of Morro Rock, Mis­sion San Luis Obispo, South County veg­etable fields and Car­rizo Plain grain farm­ing.The four scenes were di­vided by a shape that blended a bear, a weather vane and a torch, bounded by 27 stars and con­tained in an out­line vaguely shaped like a bear’s head.

Mank­ins be­gan so­lic­it­ing de­signs for a re­place­ment seal, and the one cho­sen was de­signed by Cal Poly teacher and artist Robert Reynolds.

The seal in­cluded the phrase “Not For Our- selves Alone.”

Staff writer Jack Magee wrote about the new seal be­ing adopted in the Feb. 6, 1973, Tele­gram-Tri­bune.


Chair­man Howard Mank­ins came up with a pro­posed new county seal Mon­day.

And the draw­ing by Cal Poly artist Robert Reynolds — who did the 1971 phone book cover on Fra. Ju­nipero Serra — bore lit­tle re­sem­blance to Mank­ins’ rough sketch of last Novem­ber.

No one found fault with the art work, but Su­per­vi­sor Richard Kre­jsa mildly ques­tioned some of the facts in Mank­ins’ writ­ten de­scrip­tion of the seal.

Mank­ins, ob­vi­ously proud of the work, con­cealed his sen­si­tiv­ity well and shrugged off the crit­i­cism as deal­ing with mat­ters that are sub­ject to in­ter­pre­ta­tion.

For in­stance, Kre­jsa ob­served that there is a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion in his­tor­i­cal cir­cles whether Por­tuguese ex­plorer Juan Ro­drigues Cabrillo ac­tu­ally en­tered San Luis Bay or just passed by.

Kresja’s fel­low fresh­man mem­ber of the board, Kurt Kup­per, cited his ar­chi­tec­tural stu­dent back­ground in won­der­ing whether the mis­sion bell in the seal didn’t dis­tract the eye of the viewer.

But Mank­ins said the bell was in­tended to be a fo­cal point in recog­ni­tion of the im­por­tance of the San Luis Obispo mis­sion.

Su­per­vi­sor Hans Heil­mann noted with pride that this county is one of the few hav­ing two re­stored mis­sions (San Luis Obispo and San Miguel).

The seal, with one copy ren­dered in gold, was ap­proved by the board but will have to await cast­ing be­fore of­fi­cial adop­tion.

In the mean­time, it can be used as the county em­blem. But it won’t be em­bla­zoned on county ve­hi­cles un­til and un­less it ap­proves.

County Ad­min­is­tra­tive Of­fi­cer Wil­lard Wag­goner, who sug­gested it re­place the present county em­blem on of­fi­cial ve­hi­cles, had sec­ond thoughts. While that would be nice, Wag­goner said, the stat has dis­con­tin­ued us­ing its em­blem on its cars out of fear it in­vited van­dal­ism, and won­dered if the county should fol­low suit.

Mank­ins got the board’s per­mis­sion last fall to de­sign a new seal along his­tor­i­cal lines to re­place the present one, in use 89 years, which im­prints on of­fi­cial pa­pers a bat­tered im­age vaguely re­sem­bling a moun­tain-val­ley land- scape.

At that time Mank­ins said the mean­ing of the seal’s features and iden­tity of its artist couldn’t be learned and the com­pany that made it was de­stroyed dur­ing the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906.

The new seal has a bor­der read­ing “Board of Su­per­vi­sors, San Luis Obispo, Cal­i­for­nia.” As an em­blem, the “Board of Su­per­vi­sors” let­ter­ing will be re­placed by “County of.”

In the cen­ter are four left fac­ing male pro­files rep­re­sent­ing an In­dian, an early ex­plorer, a padre and an early Cal­i­for­nian, framed by an out­line of the county’s bound­aries.

On the lower left, op­po­site the mis­sion bell, are leaves, branches and acorns of the Val­ley Oak, copied from a tree at Paso Robles.

Top left, a Cabrillo ex­pe­di­tion sail­ing ship sits in front of Morro Rock. At top right is one of the chain of peaks. Mid­dle right is a tiny ranch scene of a cow­boy on horse­back round­ing up two calves. The whole scene is cir­cled by a braided rope that “holds to­gether the her­itage that founded our county.”

At the top of the scene is a ban­ner read­ing “Al­caldes” and be­neath it the date, 1850, the year the county was es­tab­lished.

Ten stars in the outer cir­cle of the seal stand for the orig­i­nal di­vi­sion of the Cal­i­for­nia ter­ri­tory into 10 dis­tricts, one this county.

At the bot­tom of the seal is a fe­ro­cious griz­zly bear of the kind that greeted the Por­tola ex­pe­di­tion.

Mank­ins said artist Reynolds’ fee of $300 in­cludes a dec­o­ra­tive scroll to be made car­ry­ing the res­o­lu­tion adopt­ing the seal.

A Brief His­tory of the Board of Su­per­vi­sors Of­fi­cial Seal and County Em­blem

Var­i­ous San Luis Obispo County seals and em­blems. At left is the orig­i­nal county seal adopted in 1883, seen over the door­way of the 1940 county of­fices. In the cen­ter is the un­of­fi­cial em­blem cre­ated in 1957. When the orig­i­nal seal wore out, a new seal was de­signed in 1972 at the re­quest of Howard Mank­ins, chair­man of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Su­per­vi­sors, by artist Robert Reynolds.

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