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.
NEW COUNTY SEAL APPROVED, BUT THERE WERE QUESTIONS
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.
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.