Great Seals of Britain

This site is intended to bring information concerning the Great Seals of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales into the public domain. The majority of images are taken from 'The Great Seals of England' by Allan Wyon, published in London 1880.

All the seal images in this site can be temporarily enlarged by moving the cursor over the image.

Click on one of the buttons below to view the sections available for that country or institution. (The 'Text' button displays the text at the start of Allan Wyon's book.)

Notes

January 2012. Following the acquisition of a copy of James Taylor's 'Pictorial History of Scotland A.D. 79 to 1746', published by George Virtue in circa 1850, the Scottish section of this site has had engravings of eleven early seals added to it.

July 2008. Following the acquisition of a copy of Walter De Gray Birch's 'History of Scottish Seals, from the eleventh to the seventeenth century', published in Sterling 1905, the Scottish section of this site has been reorganized and greatly expanded.

January 2008. Following the acquisition of a copy of Francis Sandford's 'A Genealogical History of the Kings and Queens of England and Monarchs of Great Britain', 2nd edition published London 1707, many new images of the seals from William I to Queen Anne have been added to this website. Most of the images were engraved by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607 - 1677) in the 1650s. The Hollar images are largely of the same seals as illustrated by Speed, but are engraved with greater precision.

October 2007. New page added for the County Palatine of Lancaster with images of three seals. Following the acquisition of a copy of Edward Edward's Great Seals of England, London, 1837, a number of new seals have been added. The engravings in this book were made by Achilles Collas who invented a machine, similar in principle to a die cutting reducing machine, that produced accurate three dimensional representations of medals and seals. Allan Wyon illustrated casts made from many of the same seal impressions, but often with more detail visible.

March 2007. A major new addition to this site is made possible by the acquisition of a copy of John Speed's 'Historie of Great Britaine' published in 1623. This book contains detailed engravings of the seals of each British monarch from William the First to James the First of England, the current monarch at the date of publication. It is possible that some of the detail is fanciful, but it should be remembered that John Speed made his engravings 250 years before the Allan Wyon book was published. Speed may have had access to seals now lost. It is certain that the seals that he did see were in a better state of preservation than those available to Allan Wyon.

The main reason for the creation of this site is, as Allan Wyon intended with his book, to make images and descriptions of the Great Seals available for use in dating documents, and for appreciating the art of the past millennium.


Webmaster: Harold M Mernick

email: harry@mernicks.com

This site is hosted by mernicks.com at www.mernick.org.uk/seals