ELTON, Stuart F. (2017). Cloth Seals: An Illustrated Guide to the Identification of Lead Seals Attached to Cloth, ISBN 9781784915483. E-publication ISBN 9781784915490; soft back, 410 pp., fully illustrated in colour and b/w images, bibliography. Price: GB ₤65; e-publication ₤16.
The TRC has a small collection of lead seals and it has always been a bit of a puzzle as to whether a seal was for a piece of cloth or for something else (we have one seal that turned out to be for sacks of guano). Another major source of contention is the origin of particular seals. Just because it may have been found in, for example, Leiden, it does not mean it originated there! British seals, for example, have been found in Hungary, and British, German and French seals were excavated in The Netherlands. These seals give an indication of the importance and scale of the European cloth industry in late medieval and later periods.
I was very glad to read Elton’s book on cloth seals and how to identify the various types of British seals. There are numerous clear diagrams, line drawings and photographs with details concerning the iconography and texts on the seals and indications how the various types can be identified. The emphasis is on post medieval and early modern industrial forms. The majority of seals are British and those found in Britain as well as British seals found in various parts of Europe. It would be very useful in the future to have a similar guide to European seals in general!
Recommendation: This is a specialist book that will be of use to museum and university colleagues, as well as archaeologists working in the field of medieval and later industrial heritage.
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, March 2020.