Silver seal matrix showing soldier on horse

Supporter case study: Dr John H Rassweiler

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Dr John H Rassweiler has for many years generously supported the care, research and public understanding of the Museum's outstanding collection of medieval seal matrices.

A seal matrix is a device used to make an impression into wax or other materials. In the Middle Ages these devices often carried the name of the owner, thus making the image which accompanied the name a bearer of great authority. In a period of decreased literacy, these objects provide key insights into life in this fascinating period of history.

Support for the collection

Dr Rassweiler has helped this unique collection gain wider academic and public attention by contributing to exhibitions, publications, acquisitions and curatorial positions.

In 2007 he supported both the exhibition and conference proceedings of Good Impressions: Image and Authority in Medieval Seals. The exhibition featured magnificent seals owned by royalty, bishops and aristocrats, and placed them alongside the seals of cathedrals, monasteries and guilds to give an authoritative view of medieval life and identity.

In 2015 he funded the conference Seals and Status 800–1700 and the accompanying conference proceedings Seals and Status: Power of Objects, which was published in 2018. The publication deals specifically with aspects of status in the history of seals, exploring this theme across a diverse range of cultural contexts – from the ninth century through the Early Modern period and across the world, looking at Byzantine, European, Islamic and Chinese examples.

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