Private Collections

Statement on private collecting (John Rassweiler, Princeton)

Private collecting of seal matrices and impressions is one the nucleuses of modern employment with seals. Antiquarians and collectors with Antiquarian interest arranged first collections since the 16th century, showing particular interest in the matrices rather than the concrete impressions. Only from the 18th century onwards public collections such as archives and museums began to grow. In many cases their origins lay in bequests of 'private' collections. Although many matrices and seal impressions went from private to public hands in the 19th and 20th centuries, a remarkable number of private collections exist at the beginning of the 21st century all over the world.

One of SIGILLVM's main goals is to address these private collectors as an important part of [fraction within] the sigillographic community. Their connoisseurship and the objects they hold in their collections are of outstanding importance for a broader understanding of the culture of pre-modern seals and sealing practices.  We intend to encourage these collectors to contribute their expertise to a much broader community, reaching from researchers to teachers, from conservators to cutators.

If you want to read more about a private collector's experience, please click here.