Cloth Seals (2001 guide)

Please note that this guide has not been fundamentally changed from the original print version of the Finds Recording Guide (Geake 2001), written when the database contained just 8,800 non-numismatic records.

Introduction

Cloth seals were lead seals attached to industrially produced cloths as part of ‘the alnage’: industrial regulation by officials who controlled the quality of cloth sold and levied a tax of a few pence (Egan in Saunders (ed.) 2001, 43).  They are generally made of either two discs connected by a strip, or four discs similarly connected.  One disc would feature a central integral rivet which would have gone through a perforation in the outer disc in the group. Other types of leaden seals are dealt with separately.

PAS object type(s) to be used

Use CLOTH SEAL

Terms to use in the description

Use Egan 1994 in conjunction with Egan 1985 for the identification and description.  Each disc (numbered according to Egan in Saunders (ed.) 2001) should be described in turn.  If two discs survive, but neither have a rivet, they are almost certainly the two inner discs (discs 2 and 3) from a four-part seal.

Date

Cloth seals began to be applied in the medieval period, with documentary references from the late 14th century onwards (Egan 1998, 261); the alnage was administered until 1724 (Egan in Saunders (ed.) 2001, 43).

Examples

Cloth seals: Two-part early post-medieval cloth seal from London (top left, SF-2146E6); two-part post-medieval cloth seal from Augsburg (bottom left, SOM-77EEA6); two-part post-medieval cloth seal of the Norwich Weavers Company (top right, SUR-59C193); four-part post-medieval cloth seal issued during the reign of Queen Anne (bottom right, SOM-F120F4). Copyright: Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Surrey County Council; Somerset County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)
Cloth seals: Two-part early post-medieval cloth seal from London (top left, SF-2146E6); two-part post-medieval cloth seal from Augsburg (bottom left, SOM-77EEA6); two-part post-medieval cloth seal of the Norwich Weavers Company (top right, SUR-59C193); four-part post-medieval cloth seal issued during the reign of Queen Anne (bottom right, SOM-F120F4). Copyright: Suffolk County Council Archaeology Service; The Portable Antiquities Scheme; Surrey County Council; Somerset County Council; CC-BY-SA licence)

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Key references

Egan 1985

Egan 1994

Egan in Saunders (ed.) 2001