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Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Medieval Seals                                         12/10/2014

Hello, everyone. Today I received a notice via FaceBook that Robert The Bruce’s desk seal was up for sale, and expected to fetch approximately 120,000 pounds sterling. Being the curious person I am, this lead to an investigation into historic seals and signets.

Below, you will find the fruits of my labors, including examples of historic seals from many cultures, and a how-to-make-seals offering, one in video format. While I myself am not much of a card enthusiast, I find that this year I am making an exception. This would be a cool addition to your holiday cards. Keep in mind however, that the Post Office dislikes sealing wax on the outside of envelopes. The wax gums up the automated sorting machines.

Such seals might make an awesome present, along with a colored candle or stick of actual sealing wax. Rumor has it that a crayon in a low-temp hot glue gun also works well as sealing wax. Hand-penned or -drawn holiday wishes for your historically minded friends will be so much more impressive with a dangling ribbon and wax pendant. Or, if you have wee ones anticipating a visit from Pere Noel, they would be thrilled to find a personal response to their Santa letter or plate of cookies, sealed with an old-fashioned holiday themed signet.

Wishing you and your kin a very calm and crafty holiday season. Please feel free to share this missive freely with others.



Dame Aoife Finn m/k/a Lisbeth Gelatt,
Hailing from the magnificent Barony of Endless Hills, in Sylvan Æthelmearc.

Connelly, Tony. Rare Robert the Bruce seals to fetch up to £120k, The Scottsman Sunday, online. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:


Timeline Auctions in London is set to auction off this set of seals used in 1322 to stamp tax documents for Robert the Bruce of Scotland.

Like many intricate seals, it is necessary to see the positive image in order to appreciate the intricate carving. Most seals are created in negative image, so the wax seal would correctly register the imprint of letters and heraldic charges.

Trilling, Renee R. Medieval Seals. Medieval Institute Libray, Notre Dame University. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:


TrillingThe beautiful seal to the right belonged to the Abbey of Royaumont in France. Intricate seals such as this one were a (then) high-tech way for historic documents to prove the authenticity of the message contained inside. The above link from Notre Dame will lead you to a collection of online images featuring animals, plants, people, coats of arms and ships, all from a variety of cultures.



National Archives UK. Seals. Retrieved 12/03/2014 from:
This website, created by the British Government’s National archives service, details how to effectively search both on and offline for the various and sometimes hard to find seals in collections across the UK.

Government of Norfolk, UK. Exhibition Guide to Seals and Sealing. Retrieved 12/03/2014 from:
This comprehensive guide to a curated exhibit on seals and sealing wax not only details in word and image the seals themselves, but also the different ways in which seals were used including types of paper, ribbons, wax, methods of stamping the image, etc.

Lang Antiques. Signet Rings. Antique Jewelry University. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:

Though this site details images such as the tailor’s signet, left, it also covers such marks and methods from early Mesopotamia through the 19th century. Please note the scholarly references at the bottom of the page for further research on the subject.



Victoria and Albert Museum. Search the Collections. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:

VnASearch the collection of antique signets from this page. The ring to the right is engraved with the name Aufret, and was made in the 7th century. Originally it was thought to belong to King Alfred, though recent advances in scholarship put some doubt on this possible explanation.



Insecula. Anneau sigillaire dit “De Saint Louis”. Louvre Museum. Retrieved 12/04/2014 from:
This museum website has images of several signet rings including the rings of Saint Louis, and The Black Prince. Several Merovingian signets are pictured. Search the page for seals reaching back throughout distant history.

Kalif, Will. Make a Medieval Seal. Retrieved 12/07/2014 from:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uchW8ZzOwDs. Make a Medieval seal.
This video, from stormthecastle.com goes through the entire process of creating a unique seal, from design to carving, handle creation, and techniques for actually stamping the wax. This is a 10 minute video, plus a little bit, and includes a lot of tips and tricks. Well worth the time to watch how to shape a handle and carve a stamp by hand. Note: this technique produces a desk stamp with polymer clay.