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[#46168] Wax Seals in Norway - any history?

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Gjest Kalli Ostner

A relative of mine just showed me a wonderful wax seal from our Hæggernæs family (Hamre, Hordaland). I would like to know if there is any more information on wax seals from Norway. Was this a tradition to give to emigrating family?The seal has the family farm name (Hæggernæs, using Norwegian characters), along with an etching of a horse and plow, and a crossed rake and sickle. The engraving is very light. The family that came to the US arrived around 1880.I am also trying to find a way to replicate this seal, if anyone has any suggestions.Thank you! Kalli

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Gjest Hans Cappelen

There are thousands of seals in Norwegian archives. You may find them on documents or in collections. A number is printed in local history books and you may find some on the Internet - look for the Norwegian word 'segl'. Medieaval seals are printed in the book Norske Sigiller, and drawings of some younger seals are in Hans Krag's book Norsk heraldisk mønstring. Most of the seals are not printed or published but on documents in the official archives. To find such seals there might demand quite much time.The contents of the seals are house marks (bumerker), monograms/letters, pictorial symbols and coats of arms. Some are quite elaborate and small works of art, others are very simpel.The pratical use of seals almost ended in the 19th Century i.a. because people then started to use envelopes for letters, and the seals were not necessary any longer on important legal documents.Regards Hans

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Gjest Hans Cappelen

If you want to replicate the seal, you may ask an engraver to make it in a signet for you. You may ask a goldsmith or a jeweller's shop.There are other ways of making a matrix - I have myself some signets made in silicon, but I don't know how to to that myself. You probably will need some technical equipment. I beleive you need some experience or expertise to make a replica by placing some sort of material on top of the seal, if you not will take the risk to ruin it.Regards Hans

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Gjest Kalli Ostner

Hans, mange tusen takk for the wonderful information on seals. I have learned a lot from you and now have many more places to search for information.I was able to make a good scan of the seal. I have attached a copy here. I saved it in reverse so it is easier to read. Possibly someone in the future will search for our family name and find this post.Again, thank you very much for the wonderful information!Cheers - Kalli

bilete2099.jpg

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Gjest Hans Cappelen

This is interesting - I have not seen any Norwegian seal quite similar to this one - as far as I can remember; especially since it has a person's name in the middle with gothic letters. The first letter seems to me to be a capital J before the name of the farm which also most likely was his family name. From the style I beleive it was made in the 19th Century. May be it was made for the one who immigrated from Norway. The symbols tell us that farming was important for that person.Could the seal matrix have been engraved in the US and not in Norway ?Regards Hans

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Gjest Kalli Ostner

Very interesting Hans! The 'J' could stand for 'Johannes' or 'Johannessen' as that name was in the line. As I worked on a reply to your email, I have discovered a few things...Frist, to clarify the family ties, this seal now belongs to a descendant of Ole Oleson Hæggernæs (1865-1942). I am the g-granddaughter of Ole's brother Karl (1868-1919). Their family is in the 1865 census here: LenkeThey had a brother Johannes, b. 1852 died 1879. He died at age 27 and in his death records it notes 'Gaardbr. Søn Agronom' - went to agricultural college? That would make sense as to why the seal contained 'J Hæggernæs' with the crossed farm implements and the horse and plow!Their grandfather, also Johannes, was known as 'Johannes Olsen Ytre-Eide' and 'Johannes Olsen Hagesæter' He lived 1784-1868.As far as I understand, the seal has been here in the USA with the family since three brother immigrated (Haldor, Ole, and Karl) c. 1880. In all the research I have on them here, they spelled the name 'Heggerness' and did not use the 'æ' letter.This is more interesting by the moment! I took a few pictures for you to see, to show the shape of the seal. I am very excited for your post, as it reveals so much more about this seal.Enjoy the pictures - I look forward to hearing what you think.All the best - Kalli

bilete2112.jpg

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Gjest Kalli Ostner

Hæggernæs seal upright:

bilete2114.jpg

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Gjest Kalli Ostner

Hæggernæs seal top:

bilete2115.jpg

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Gjest Kalli Ostner

The more I think about this, the more I wonder...Could Johannes Olsen Hæggerneæs have used this in some sort of official way, as he had a degree in agriculture? Could he have held a position or job that he checked farms and would have had to give his 'seal of approval?' Were there such positions in 1870's Norway.Fascinating! Kalli

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Gjest Roald Sjursen

HelloMy grandpa had a similar seal, with only his name on. Even the letters were in similar font. I never asked my dad about it, but always believed the seal was made while grandpa was in USA.Regards Roald

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Gjest Hans Cappelen

Other people with more knowledge than I have, will have to answer the question whether that kind of seals and signets were used in some sort of control marking or signing - in the US or in Norway.In countries with English legal traditions, seals have been in practical use more recently than here in Scandinavia. Seals were used on written contracts and some official documents as a condition for their validity. As far as I know, some documents still shall have to have seals under British law. We also see now and then in the press and on television, that seals are placed on international and bilateral treaties in our time, to finalize negotiations in a seremony, with presidents and other high dignitaries present.Regards Hans

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Gjest Helge R. Naess

When I started a few companies after 1974, my solicitors always demanded that a 'company seal' should be ordered. The British were always the last in Europe to change their habits or traditions, at least in the City of London.

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Gjest Kalli Ostner

Thank so much for all the thoughts and remarks to Hans, Roald, and Helge. I now have some great information to go on, and to understand the history of this piece.Cheers - Kalli

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