Sigillography

The broadest definition of sigillography is the study of seals.  Although technically it refers to the study of wax seals from civilizations that predate widespread literacy and go back as far as the third millennium BC, seals have a very contemporary concern – identity fraud.

Seals are symbols of power and authority and for all of recorded history up to 1776, they have been the domain of monarchs.  In fact in most of the world they are still controlled by the central governments.

Seals have evolved from wax seals to notary type impressions that are still used and to symbols used for letterhead stationery.  Eventually these were enlarged to identify municipal property such as police cars, fire trucks and even buildings.  Color was added so that many municipal seals are now similar to heraldic designs.

Municipal seals in this country do not follow any of the traditional rules of heraldry that developed over the last 700-800 years in Europe.  Many seals are the result of local contests and rules are generally pretty broad allowing for designs limited only by the imagination of contestants.