Flags and Seals Make Great Souvenirs

Perfect for the collector of souvenirs from the USA or for the fans of particular states, this is a complete collection of official symbols from all fifty American states. The United States was originally founded out of thirteen independent governments, each of which had a "Great Seal" and an official flag. Although the Federal government would eventually adopt similar symbols, this tradition continued in the newer states as well, remaining symbols of the fact that the States are entities whose power exists alongside that of the Federal Government. In some cases, like California, Vermont, Hawai'i and Texas, the state was a fully independent nation before annexation and the federal state inherited the old nation's prominent symbols.

Some of the Most Popular Flags

State flags have a long history: the oldest date back to battle flags from the American Revolution such as the Flag of New Hampshire (which was created in 1776), and the strikingly beautiful flag of South Carolina (cir. 1775) with a silver crescent moon and palmetto tree on a deep blue background. Others, like the flag of Mississippi (cir. 1894) controversially harken back to the American Civil War. Some other favorite flags include the elegant simplicity of the flag of New Mexico, the Old World heraldry of Maryland (whose design is the oldest, dating back to the colonial period), the Big Dipper on the Flag of Alaska, and the one-starred pride of Texas (perhaps the most famous and popular of the state flags).

Forgotten Gems: The Great Seals of the American States

Flags often hog the spotlight today, but for the founders of the American Republic, the Great Seals were often more important (many states did not have official flags until long after their founding). These Seals were designs which were imprinted on official documents; in the old English legal tradition, a law was not official without the King's Great Seal and the new states adopted their own versions upon independence. Some seals, like the Great Seal of Alabama feature the map of the state. Others, like the Great Seals of New York or Idaho resemble their European predecessors, with depictions of two individuals holding up a shield or banner. Others feature state symbols, such as the pelican on the Great Seal of Louisiana, the head of the nation's first president on the Seal of Washington, and the bears on the Seal of Missouri. While it might be difficult sometimes to choose between a state's flag and its seal, the beauty of these keychains is that - as they are two-sided - both images are depicted equally.