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Wax Seal Impressions from Switzerland and Germany collection

Identifier: Manuscript Collection No. 366

Scope and Content Note

The seal impressions in this collection range from 1 to 8 centimeters and come in three shapes: round, square, and oblong. They are organized based off the individual or family that they represent, with multiple stamps for the same person grouped together. For the unmarked seals, whose origin is uncertain, they are arranged by shape, and then further arranged by diameter (beginning with 1 centimeter and increasing per half centimeter up until 6 centimeters in diameter, with an 8 centimeter seal as the largest.). Most prominently represented in the collection are seal impressions from Johann Puliant of Eptingen, Hans Jakob Holzhalb, Johannes Staehelin, Savirin, Falkner, Burckhard, and Meissner.


  • circa 1300-1799

Language of Materials

Materials in Latin and German.

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Historical Note

The collection consists of 246 wax seal impressions dating from the fourteenth to eighteenth centuries. Originally from Switzerland (e.g., Bern, Basel, Zurich, Appenzel) and Germany (e.g, Prussia, Baden), these seals were used to authenticate documents, charters, and other correspondence during this time period. To create the impression, a matrix is cast (usually made of metal, ivory, or stone) with the negative image on the end. Impressions were originally made with the matrix on a medium of pure beeswax, however, during the eleventh century experimentation with pigments began and the compositions of the mediums were altered in order to create a harder wax and a sharper image. The medium for the impression became an amalgamation of substances (usually a mixture of beeswax with resin, clay, or soft metals), which differed per country. While clearer images were created, the seals themselves became more brittle, ultimately causing cracks to form. The sizes and shapes of the seals also varied, with royal and noble seals steadily increasing in diameter.


.75 cubic feet (2 boxes)


Consists of 246 individual wax seal impressions primarily from Switzerland and Germany.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by name associated with the seal or by size of the seal.


Processed by Sarah Ward and Brandon Wason, 2015.

Wax Seal Impressions from Switzerland and Germany collection, circa 1300-1799
Pitts Theology Library, Emory University
Date encoded: May 12, 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Pitts Special Collections and Archives Repository

1531 Dickey Drive
Atlanta GA 30322 USA