New Mexico's first seal was designed shortly after the organization of the Territorial Government in 1851. The original seal has long since disappeared. (It and other artifacts may have been placed into the cornerstone at the Soldiers Monument in the Santa Fe plaza.) Imprints of the original seal show it consisted of an American bald eagle clutching an olive branch in one talon, while clutching three arrows in the other talon. Along the outer rim was the inscription "Great Seal of the Territory of New Mexico."

In the early 1860's an unknown official adopted a new seal, using a design similar to today's great seal. It featured an American bald eagle with a Mexican brown eagle, its outstretched wings shielding the smaller Mexican eagle, symbolizing the change of sovereignty from Mexico to the United States. The smaller Mexican eagle, or harpy, grasped a snake in its beak and cactus in its talons, portraying an ancient Aztec myth. The outer rim of the seal contained the words "Territory of New Mexico" with the date of “1850” along the bottom in Roman numerals (MDCCCL). It is not clear when the Latin phrase "CRESCIT EUNDO" was added to the seal, but in 1882, Territorial Secretary W.G. Ritch, embellished the earlier design with the phrase, which when translated reads, "It grows as it goes." That version of the seal was adopted as New Mexico's "official seal and coat of arms" by the Territorial Legislature in 1887.

Following New Mexico’s statehood in 1912, the New Mexico State Legislature named a commission for the purpose of designing a state seal. In the meantime, the Legislature authorized interim use of the territorial seal with the words, "Great Seal of the State of New Mexico." In June 1913, the commission consisted of New Mexico Governor William C. McDonald; New Mexico Attorney General Frank W. Clancy; New Mexico Chief Justice Clarence J. Roberts; and New Mexico Secretary of State Antonio Lucero. The commission adopted the design as the official Great Seal of the State of New Mexico, substituting the date “1912” for the Roman numerals. This design has remained the official seal of New Mexico.