PROJECTS FOR THE PANDEMIC X: SEALS
Seals were used in the earliest civilizations and were very familiar by the early middle ages. Wax seals were being regularly used by the end of the tenth century. The practice of sealing in wax gradually moved down the social hierarchy from royalty, nobility and high-ranking ecclesiastical individuals to minor knights by the twelfth century and to commoners by the middle of the thirteenth century.
By the middle of the eleventh century, the seals were attached to charters by a length of parchment that was cut from the charter itself. The modern pouring of wax to “seal” an envelope was not yet used. I determined that a seal should not be used on the computerized charters that I produced and ordered some actual parchment—my supplier suggested goat parchment—that could be used and sealed.
After looking at historical and available seals, I decided to design my own. I decided on the circle shape, made the circular text “FOLCIVSÞEGNMICELFOLCLOND✠. The center would conventionally have the head of a person, but I decided to go with Michael, the mascot of Micel Folcland, in the center. In deference to my skills at carving the seal, I decided to replace the crane with a triskelion design that appealed to me. As it turned out, I could have kept Michael since I had the seal carved by a professional. I ordered a professional seal out of brass but did eventually carve a seal myself out of faux ivory, but I did not have the skill to do it veery well. I plan to work on another in my spare time.
Most of the seals were on disks that the parchment was attached to, and I found a suitable mould, the top to a cannister of pills. I melted wax, placed the end of the strip of parchment and placed more wax on top. It popped out of the mould with no problem, and I was pleased with the result.
I used simple red wax, which was of dubious authenticity, and I mixed up more accurate waxes, combining powdered and then crushed rosin with beeswax (2/3 to 1/3).
I have a lot goat parchment, and I intend to keep trying to make a very satisfying result. But then good living history is a never-ended experiment!