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Document Security: 500BC to a time before the internet

Since written communication began, there has been a need to authenticate the author or sender of a document and to secure the document in a way that means it is only the intended recipient who reads it. Throughout history there have been scammers who by means of a good forgery could ruin or inflate reputations, derail property or other negotiations, and make financial or social gains. Seals were the main way to authenticate documents. Whether it be Royal mail, wartime strategy, secret lovers’ notes, medical notes, goods prices and movements, information needed to be kept secret. Documents were folded and sealed in ingenious ways for protection and has come to be known as letterlocking. We shall look at types of personal seals used throughout history and the way they were applied to documents. We’ll make seals and use them with wax on documents we have folded and tied based on historical examples. Then we will try some letterlocking. These can be sealed with wax but there are modern alternatives as well.
As the envelope came to be the preferred sealing method, we’ll fold a good template for one of
those too. This is also a writing practise day, so there will be time to just write. Script of your choice.

  • Please bring an item to make a deep impression into modelling clay to make a wax seal eg: a button, a shell, a signet ring. See image below for inspiration.

Materials list updated

Cost: $40 members/$50 non members. Payable by bank transfer or cash on the day.