Saturday 3 January 2015

On the ninth day of Christmas, ARCAT stored for me…

...nine document seals,

Seals Special Collection, DS.01, DS.05, DS.06a&b, DS.07, DS.08, DS.09, DS.10

Seals authenticate documents. Corporate seals are particularly important because they act as the signature of the corporation. (In the past, individuals were not allowed to sign off on certain corporate acts, so a seal was necessary to prove authority).  

Instead of using wax or ink, these nine seals are designed for embossing paper or foil. Embossing required two dies: one with a raised image and one that is recessed. The dies fit into each other so that when paper is pressed between them, the raised die forces the sheet into the recessed die and creates the embossed impression. The two dies are aligned and fitted to an embossing machine, such as the hand-operated clamping devices shown above.

Most of these are corporate seals that are now obsolete. Two of these are old archdiocesan seals.  The others are seals of various bishops, a parish, the Papal Visit Community Fund, the Catholic Industrial School society, and St. Mary's Hospital.
Seals Special Collection, DS.01

Example of the two dies required for embossing paper. The mirror image of the seal is carved out of the brass plate (right), and then molten zinc is cast into this recessed image to create the raised die (left). Using this technique, the plates perfectly interlock when pressed to form an impression of Archbishop Neil McNeil's seal.  The oval image features his coat of arms and the Latin words Archiepiscopus Torontinus, meaning "Archbishop of Toronto." 

eight spir’tual bouquets,

seven papal bulls,

six pairs of buskins,

five golden rings,

four photographs,

three mitres,

two maniples,

and a pen used to vote at Conclave.

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