During the medieval period, seals were widely used in trading to ensure the authenticity and security of a document or letter. Bronze seals were a possession of the wealthy, since they cost more to produce than lead seals, and had a longer life span on account of the metal’s hardness. The social status of the owner was reflected in the size of the seal, with the combination of motif and text providing further insight into the owner’s identity, such as their place in a family.
Intaglio made in relief is the most traditional form of dry seal used to make the impression on the paper. The common design of a seal comprises a graphic emblem in the middle surrounded by a text, which is called the legend, around the perimeter.
To find out more about intaglios and seals, please see our relevant post: http://antiquities.co.uk/blog/uncategorised/seal-rings-intaglios-as-signatures/