The Collection

My wife and I, both with a deep interest in history and art, almost accidently began collecting Medieval Seal matrices in the early 1990s and became serious collectors only after having the good fortune to find patient (and slightly bemused) mentors.

The collection numbers over 600 matrices and 9 sealed documents, of which over 500 are assumed to date from the medieval and early renaissance period in northern Europe especially England and France. Many of these are matrices of the common people, minor nobility, middle and lower level ecclesiastics and officials, gentry, trades people, land owners, farmers and merchants. Many of them available today due to the wide use of metal detectors, increased archeological interests, and the increasing availibity of older collections. Of the estimated 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 matrices probably produced in this 500 year period, 4/5 are believed to be of this type. The most thoroughly studied, and absorbed into museums and private collections primarily in the 18th and 19th century, were the seals and matrices of royalty, nobility, senior officials and top ecclesiastics. The seals of the common people have received less attention.

It is a collection with a wide range of texts and images, often with similarities. The objective has been to restrict the collection to matrices produced from 1000-1500, the bulk being from 1200-1500. However, dating has proved tricky.

The seals are modern and produced by the collector. None of the matrices have been cleaned by the collector except to remove obvious debris and, using wood tools, removing clearly modern wax from a few. However, some previous owners have not been so scrupulous.

The matrices and other medieval objects in the collection have been purchased from many sources, and the data presented in the database and website was usually supplied by sellers and has to be viewed with considerable caution. The collector is not a medievalist, nor an expert in seals and matrices, but over the years, has developed increasing sophistication and knowledge looking at pictures, descriptions and actual matrices numbering in the thousands. Every effort has been made to assure that the data presented is at least logical. All of the data associated with the matrices has undergone some level of review by medievalists at various times and conditions but sincerely hope that more skilled viewers will submit ideas, suggestions, corrections, or information on similar matrices with which they are familiar.

The website is produced from a larger database, called Matrix, where all data is stored; some too speculative or incomplete to be included, some of volume which exceeds this websites initial operating parameters. Those seeking more information about the collection should use the contact menu options. Be sure to specify the 5 digit accession code.

For more information about individual items in the online collection, use the “Comment on this item” link located near the bottom of each item’s detail page. This option automatically includes the accession code.

The initial website included 48 selected from the collection. Others will be added regularly as the underlying database which supports the website automatically, is reviewed and updated. For truth in advertising, I should note that the collection is still active.

Each matrix offers the opportunity to send comments to the collector, and appropriate additions to the database will be posted. Please help improve the database, for the benefit of all the viewers.

For those interested in more information, consider completing the “join us” option in the Contact menu. The list that results will not be distributed. Those interested might find Sigillvm.net (http://www.sigillvm.net/) a site of interest.