In my collection of old prints I have the image of two sigilli or seals. A sigillum is a device for making an impression in wax, clay, paper, or some other medium, including paper. It is also the impression which is made. Originally used to authenticate a document or its wrapper or possibly a package holding valuables or other objects. Most seals have always given a single impression on an essentially flat surface, but in medieval Europe two-sided seals with two matrices (faces) were often used by institutions or rulers (such as towns, bishops and kings) to make two-sided or fully three-dimensional impressions in wax, with a “tag”, a piece of ribbon running through them. These “pendent” seal impressions dangled below the documents they authenticated, to which the attachment tag was sewn or otherwise attached (single-sided seals were treated in the same way). The importance of the seal as a means of authentication necessitated that when authority passed into new hands the old seal should be destroyed and a new one made.
We see the #ElyCatherdalChapterSeal – the sigillum of #Etheldrda foundress of the monastic community at #Ely which later became the site of the bishop’s throne making Ely a cathedral. I can find little information on the seal and so believe it lost. I have found only one image of this seal on line and it is a very poor image itself. There is one more sigill on the print and that is the seal of Clare College in Cambridge. possibly a single sided seal for only one side appears to be imaged.
Together on a very old page, they are part of history – images from history which are rarely seen today.