31 October 2012

Cloth seals

Cloth seals, although small and not much to look at, can give us fascinating insights into the Medieval and Post Medieval cloth trade, which was so important to economies of the period. This lead seal, SOM-B424B7, is of a form typical in England and some adjacent areas of the continent. It is formed of a row of four disks with tabs between. The row was bent in half over the edge of the cloth and a projecting point on one of the small outer disks went through the cloth then through a hole on the other outer disk before being stamped flat to rivet the ends together and to the cloth. The small disks appear plain apart from the raised circle from flattening the rivet...

Seals were attached to cloth at several stages of production. Personal seals might be added by the weaver and dyer, guild seals might also be added to show the quality of the work had been checked and it was of a required length and seals were added to show various taxes has been paid...
Text and image from the Somerset Portable Antiquities Scheme blog.  Here are some later-era cloth seals, recovered from the wreck of an East Indiaman in 1805:


  1. On an interesting side note: Seals made by stamping an impression into wax (like sealing wax) were known by the Latin name "bulla", hence the Papal Bull.

    1. Anonymous, I wish there were "LIKE" buttons we could press! Thank you for that little insight--and for furthering my education!


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