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Bag seal for cloth


Object connections:

Collection Relics
ExhibitionsTraders: The East India Company and Asia
User collections Traders Remixed - Food by YouthAdvisoryGroup
Spices: trading for spices in Asia by NMMExhibitions
Gallery locationTraders Gallery (Floor plans)
PeopleProvenance: Honourable East India Company

Object details:

Object ID ZBA0441
Description Lead cloth or 'bag seal' (from its shape) with merchant's mark of the East India Company. The design on the reverse shows a St George cross with the English shield of arms (the three lions of England diagonally impaled with the three fleurs de lys of France) in the upper left quadrant. On the front, which has residual traces of original gilding that probably covered the whole, the letters VEIC are set within a heart shape with the number 4 above. These seals were authenticating merchants marks on bolts or bales of cloth, being folded and clamped round a visible outer edge. The hinge here is at the bottom, two 'spikes' at top back having been pushed through the ring at top front and bent over to each side. This sandwich so formed here encloses a preserved fragment of cloth, probably wool though it has not been analysed, protected from the decay which the rest of the consignment suffered after the ship it was in sank. The obverse design is shown among those in No. 10 of a series of reference prints issued by Laurie and Whittle, 'Invoice marks for West India and American Merchants etc' published on 1 May 1801 (PAH7501). This print,however, has a X within the heart as a letter separator rather than the 'reversed brackets' used here, and a U rather than a sculptural V for 'United', so may be a later version. These seals were made by Pennington, Pendleton and others, this one being recovered from the wreck site of an unidentified merchantman circa 1780-1815 in the South Edinburgh Channel, Thames Estuary, in 1975. Other items in the Museum from the same wreck include: REL0628-0689, REL0769-0771, ZBA0439-0445.
Date made circa 1780-1800

Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials inorganic: lead
Measurements Overall: 3 mm x 52 mm x 40 mm
  • Bag seal for cloth (ZBA0441)
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