Hedge fodder? If this is your view then please call me Mr Hedge and throw them my way. I wasn’t ever particularly interested in bag seals, putting them in the same class as buttons and musket balls, i.e. slightly above shotty caps and ointment tubes but like buttons and lead shot these seals can provide a lot of history and interest if a little bit of time is invested in studying them.
Detectorists are pretty spoiled these days when it comes to find identification but there are always gaps or at least areas where the information is scattered and hard to find. Bag seals occupy one of these areas and I thought it would be fun to make a start on trying to fill this particular gap. Corrine Mills kindly gave me space on her picture gallery connected to the ‘Our Past History’ site http://www.ourpasthistory.com/ and we set up the bag seal album which, after a recent move forced by an upgrade! I have decided call ‘The Bag Seal Gallery’. http://ourpasthistory.com/Gallerya/main.php?g2_itemId=15431
The idea is simple. You lot send in photos and scans of the seals you find and I upload them onto the gallery with an ID if I can but more often with just as much detail as I can get from the image. Over time when more of the unidentified seals come in a picture of the full wording and image on that type of seal can be established. Even then a full ID is not certain. If we have a company name then it is great to track these down from historical directories or other web sources and I usually include a history of the firm with the picture. If it is foreign and many are, then I rely on friends like folkert to peruse the gallery from time to time and leave comments or even full ID’s. In fact much of the best information is supplied by people who are just browsing – come and have look and make your suggestions.
While I try to be as accurate as possible this is still very much a hobby and I look on it as cross between a giant codeword puzzle and mystery object. The lettering on the seals is rarely complete and the pictures and symbols they display can be baffling. Unlike a completed codeword that ends up in the bin the reward for deciphering a seal is another, hopefully full, ID that is kept for all to see and use in the identification of their finds.
Bag seals are the focal point of this undertaking but you will see that their more venerable and often more illustrious cousins, cloth seals, are also included. This is because they are usually lumped together and frequently confused with bag seals by the detectorist. Strangely, although they are generally several hundred years older than bag seals, much more has been written about them and hence information is more readily available. Having said that there still appears to be only one publication that covers, in depth, a worthwhile selection of the cloth seals found in Britain and that has been out of print for many years, //ourpasthistory.com/Gallerya/main.php
Click on this link for a light hearted view on the funny side of metal detecting
Sound On ( Early Beadles About clip )