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Home > Auctions > 24th November 2020 > King Edward I Royal Seal Matrix for the City of York

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LOT 0524

GBP (£) 6,000 - 8,000
EUR (€) 6,610 - 8,810
USD ($) 7,780 - 10,380

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£5,400 (EUR 5,947; USD 7,005) (+bp*)

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King Edward I Royal Seal Matrix for the City of York

20 November 1272–7 July 1307 AD

A large circular bronze customs seal matrix with four pierced external lugs for alignment, raised outer band with incuse Lombard script legend 'S' DNI EDWARDI REGIS ANGLIE CIVITATIS EBORACI' [Seal of the Lord Edward, King of England, of the City of York] with pellets to the inner edge; central motif a heater shield with royal arms of three leopards passant gardant; the reverse side plain. 126 grams, 68.83mm across lugs (2 3/4"). Extremely fine condition. An extremely rare Norfolk find.

Property of a retired Norfolk gentleman; acquired by gift from Mr Woods (deceased), in lieu of a favour in the late 1980s, Mr Woods having found it whilst dredging the river in Norwich just after the second world war; accompanied by an original letter from Mr Phillips explaining the circumstances by which he acquired the seal; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10223-165857.
Cf. Tonnochy, A.B., Catalogue of British Seal-Dies in the British Museum, London, 1952, p.15, item 44 and pl.VI, for an almost identical example.
The seal was very probably used by a royal or archiepiscopal official in connection with the collection of customs dues and taxes: it was applied to a wax seal attached to merchants' goods or documents to indicate that the appropriate taxes and duties had been paid when entering or leaving the city of York or any associated port. The seal was issued to and used by the Customs official for the city of York under authority delegated directly by the King. It has a close parallel in the collection of the British Museum (Catalogue of seals, no.1166) which was donated to the museum by the Lords of the Treasury in 1842. A later seal die of Edward III of similar form and purpose is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum under accession number 1097-1905.

The circumstances of discovery are recounted in a signed letter submitted by the vendor, in which he relates that the object had been recovered from mud dredged from the River Wensum in Norwich, Norfolk, by Mr Allan Woods, then a fitter employed in a nearby new factory and soon after him leaving the army at the end of World War II. This gentleman passed the object onto the vendor in (part-) payment for supplying a custom-made frame for a display demonstrating a powered headlight.