‘Extremely rare’ medieval seal matrix discovered in East Keal field sells for almost £2,000 at auction

The medieval seal matrix which sold for �1,900.
The medieval seal matrix which sold for �1,900.

An ‘extremely rare’ medieval silver gilt seal matrix discovered in a field near East Keal by a man using a metal detector has sold for £1,900 at auction.

The 14th century love or loyalty seal, believed to have been dropped by a nobleman of the day, was bought by a collector from the south of England who was bidding over the telephone during the sale at auctioneers Golding Young & Mawer on Wednesday.

Auctioneer John Leatt said: “This seal was discovered in a field in the last two years and was extremely rare.

“We were aware of very few seals of this age that had come onto the market and certainly none that had been in as good condition or quality.

“Before the sale, we had lots of interest from private collectors which was reflected in price achieved on sale day. This seal certainly made a higher price than similar seals offered for sale on the open market.”

The seal matrix has been identified and authenticated by the British Museum and also disclaimed as treasure trove under the Treasure Act of 1996.

The word ‘seal’ has two meanings – it refers to the seal matrix, a metal object, usually engraved with a design and often an inscription, which was used to seal a document, and the seal impression, a piece of wax or similar material attached to a document upon which the seal design was imprinted using a matrix.

The image on the seal identified the author of a document and was supposed to prevent forgeries or people tampering with official documents. They also enabled illiterate people to declare their consent to an agreement even if they could not sign their names.

Silver seals are the rarest of all seals and would have been used by the elite of society. They were very expensive and a goldsmith would have been commissioned to produce them. The engraving on high status seals is superior as the metal is softer and easier to cut than cheaper metals such as bronze.

Elsewhere, a series of 30 lots of postcards in the bygones section made a total hammer price of over £2,100. The collection, which came from a property in the centre of Louth, featured scenes of Lincolnshire and the surrounding areas.

The next sales will be held at the Grantham auction room on Wednesday and Thursday, January 9 and 10 and at the Lincoln auction rooms on Wednesday, January 23.

For more information about sales at Golding Young & Mawer log-on to www.goldingyoung.com or phone the Grantham saleroom on (01476) 565118 or the Lincoln saleroom on (01522) 524984.