View Full Version : Wax seal help required

25th Jun 2016, 02:54
Hello everyone,

I would like to draw on the collective knowledge of PPRUNE.

I have inherited this wax seal from a deceased relative. It probably dates prior to 1950 and is more likely (I think) to date from the 1850s.

The Griffon's head and crown may relate to my Prussian ancestry, or it may have no significance at all.

The questions I have are:
1. Can anyone give me any information about this? Age, origin, etc.
2. What is the design below the crown? Is it just an artistic squiggle or does it mean anything?

Thank you.

25th Jun 2016, 04:27
Starting from the bottom, the 'artistic squiggle' appears to be, possibly, the overlaid initials 'A' and 'M'. (Edit: Looking again, the second letter is probably 'W').

The design of the crown would be the biggest clue to its origin.
The griffon (sinister, as it would appear on the wax) was not an uncommon heraldic device but, in this case, those two elements together are the key pointers to its significance.
Unfortunately, my heraldic reference works are packed away pending a move, so I'm sorry I can't be more specific.

The engraving work is very fine and accurate and thus it's not a cheap piece.
If I had to guess, I'd say it was crafted in the later 1800s.

I must stress that my knowledge is only that of a hobbyist and hopefully someone will be along with more definitive answers for you.
In the meantime, there seems to be a fair amount on the web re heraldic elements.

Good luck with that one.

25th Jun 2016, 09:44
Yes, maybe if you can decipher the letters in the monogram, perhaps with regard to your ancestry, you could do a web search for monogram AM, or whatever it is. As Stan says there's loads of stuff on t'internet.

25th Jun 2016, 23:13
Stanwell and UniFoxOs

Thank you for your replies. I had searched the web for "wax seals" but I had not considered searching heraldic designs. I will certainly do that now.

The design below the crown does not relate to any of the suspected owners except perhaps "William". If the design is alphabetical, it would be Old German. The likely names include Paul Bernhardt, Frederick William, or Franz. I cannot make out any of those in the design. My ancestors came from Silesia, which was at that time part of the Kingdom of Prussia.

The other possibilities are that the design is Masonic because all my ancestors were Masons, or perhaps Lutheran.

You have both given me leads to follow.

26th Jun 2016, 07:13
If it was Masonic, it would surely include a right angle of some design, probably calipers, maybe an eye. I have a silver tea spoon which has these.

John Eacott
26th Jun 2016, 07:30
Here is the image flipped, if that helps. Not much difference!

26th Jun 2016, 09:19
yes chevvron, that was total speculation on my part.

Thank you John. It appears to be a symmetrical design. A friend is researching typefaces for me to see if he can identify and font or similar designs.

Stanwell, it is, indeed, very well made. The brass seal unscrews from the wooden handle. I have examined the piece under magnification, but I cannot locate any manufacturer's mark. I would suppose that it came in a box with wax and that any brands would have been on the box or packaging.

26th Jun 2016, 14:42
Is it not the same as this?

Pyrrha Sterling Silver Griffin Atop A Crown Cufflinks | CHURCHILL in FAIRWAY (http://www.shopatchurchill.com/products/pyrrha-sterling-silver-griffin-atop-a-crown-cufflinks).

27th Jun 2016, 00:18
Could the initials be MTW/TWM etc...?

27th Jun 2016, 08:39
Slight drift, but I learnt yesterday, during a sermon at church, that "Yours Sincerely" means "Yours Without Wax".

27th Jun 2016, 11:25
I believe the initials are A, T & W, but not sure what order they are meant to be in.

27th Jun 2016, 11:50
Good find, tcinbg.
It seems that young Canadian couple have built a respectable business casting wax-seal impressions in sterling silver and marketing them as jewellery
at a reasonable price.
Good luck to them.

A brief net-browse showed me that the particular style of crown/coronet, as depicted on Seafury's seal, was a favoured heraldic device
of those Prussians who wished themselves to be known as being of noble birth.
I see that particular crown/coronet has been used on a number of coats-of-arms and crests from Pomerania down to Silesia and even on
some Hungarian heraldry.

The legendary griffin/griffon/gryphen/etc chimera has, of course, been around since the days of the Egyptian and Persian empires.
It has generally been taken to indicate the characteristics of courage, strength and protectiveness possessed by the bearer or wearer.
Desirable attributes to be displayed by the alpha male of a family group or dynasty, I would think.

So, those two elements of a full coat-of-arms, (the crown and the crest) would seem to indicate that Seafury's relative was, or at least
liked to be seen as, a person of noble birth and of some influence.

Now, I know this is Jet Blast and we do try to keep mention of aviation matters to a minimum here, but...
The somewhat trouble-prone Heinkel He177 long-range bomber was named "Greif" - German for griffon. A bit of trivia for you.

We'll be interested to hear what your friend makes of those overlaid initials, Seafury.

Loose rivets
29th Jun 2016, 21:50
There is a slight asymmetry: the flattened lips on the (near) verticals do not tolerate reversal. That puzzles me but I have no explanation.

29th Jun 2016, 22:42
behold the power of pprune!

3rd Jul 2016, 01:12
Thank you Stanwell.
I have not found any nobility yet, however, the men who migrated to Australia were well educated. They were master craftsmen and I have been told the name is famous in cabinet making circles, but I have been unable to confirm this.

3rd Jul 2016, 01:18
I apologise for not responding to all your informative posts earlier. I have been on night shift and tend to just work and sleep during those times.

tcinbg, thank you. I am going to follow up with that company. I do not wear cuff links very often, but I would like to have a pair of those. I will also ask if they know the history of the seals they use.

3rd Jul 2016, 01:38
They were master craftsmen and I have been told the name is famous in cabinet making circles, but I have been unable to confirm this.Seafury, if you'd like to PM me the name, I'll see what I can find out. I'm involved in cabinetmaking and a history project at present. I may be able to find some references for you.

3rd Jul 2016, 01:46
PM sent, thanks.