Unusual Georgian Fob Seal – Cold Case Solved!

26th February 2017 — 24 Comments

Keeping a regular blog isn’t easy, especially when you are not a practising detectorist. Coming up with something new on a regular basis can be a challenge. Perhaps I spend too much time reminiscing about the old days. I have no doubt that looking back and remembering how things used to be can be seen as a staple diet of this blog. And I don’t apologise for that. If you don’t like my ramblings then you can always ‘switch me off’. 🙂

There is a difference between thinking and sharing past experiences about the past and living in it. Many people see me as a miserable old bugger, which is far from the truth. Okay, you’ve only got my word for it! Living in the past doesn’t rob me of the opportunity to enjoy the present.

I choose to live in the past because it’s familiar; I spend a lot of time there because I know what happened. There are no surprises … like my credit card being compromised. Again. Waiting in all day for a tradesman to call. And he doesn’t; and so on. You get the picture.

I do try the occasional smile at all the problems of modern living thrown my way. But, it is easier for me to reminisce about finding that gold coin than it is to deal with my current situation. My nostalgia isn’t unhealthy. In fact I capitalise on the situation by writing for a magazine (not detecting) that is for oldies and steeped in the past.

Remember this old adage? “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present!”

Goodness. What a preamble and lame excuse for writing about something I’ve already mentioned before. It’ll be fresh for some, but was first mentioned in a newsletter I used to create for the United Kingdom Detector Finds Database (UKDFD) and which can be seen by clicking on the link.

The UKDFD was formed in 2005 by a group of metal detecting enthusiasts who joined forces and formed an online facility to promote good practice within the hobby. What follows is what I wrote at the time. The database is still going today … to the chagrin of a blogger who lives overseas!


I don’t know if you believe in the power of positive thinking and auto-suggestion, but I thought I would give it a go. In all my years detecting, I had never found a seal matrix. Everyone has a ‘wish list’ and this object was at the top of mine. I told everyone on a detecting forum that I was going on a dig and asked them to help me by focusing their minds on the meaning of the words seal matrix.

This collective ‘think tank’, together with my positive outlook would help me in my quest … or so I thought. And it did! Mind you, I was hoping for a Vesica type seal, but the near perfect Georgian fob seal was gratefully received. I was overjoyed!

Georgian Fob Seal – © JW – Circa late 18th to early 19th century. Found in Essex – 24 x 11 mm.

A circular fob seal of the Georgian period. The handle is of cast copper alloy and has moulded scrollwork decoration and a suspension loop with one knop. The intaglio is light blue, and the design appears to be moulded rather than engraved. The material is uncertain. The intaglio device is a clenched fist, around which there is the inscription, ‘SHOULD THIS MEET YOUR EYE’. There are traces of gilt present on the handle. UKDFD

It isn’t often you find a complete example, especially one with the intaglio intact. Rather unusually, it shows a clenched fist with that strange inscription. I can only assume that is what you get if you disbelieve! Rather apt, don’t you think? Here’s a reversed image of the intaglio.

Uncertain blue Intaglio – SHOULD THIS MEET YOUR EYE – © JW

The fob seal can also be found on Pinterest, saved from my record on UKDFD by somebody called Patty Weigleman.



I asked for more information on this seal and DIOZ (Dave in Oz), a researcher on the British MD Forum, has come up with a great lead, which I will try to interpret here.

Evidently it all concerns the the ‘wafer’, a stationer’s adhesive, that was in widespread use in the 19th century as a substitute for sealing wax, and was the accepted means of letter closure prior to the coming of the gummed envelope. The upper non-adhesive was used for a variety of graphic motifs or cryptic messages, ranging from ‘Ah! tis only me’ or ‘My love’. There were also messages calling for temperance, world peace and reform.

The most celebrated of these were campaign messages were those published from  the Punch magazine office denouncing the Home Secretary Sir James Graham for his action of opening letters at the post office. Graham had exercised his right as Home Secretary to intercept and examine mail, especially those suspected of plotting against the government.

Punch’s anti-Graham ‘wafers’ appeared as sixteen illustrated slogans on a single printed sheet and was decorated with such motifs as a porcupine (‘Hands Off’) and a lobster (‘Not too be red without getting into hot water’). Another featured a bared arm and fist over the caption, ‘SHOULD THIS MEET YOUR EYE’. A favourite was a rifle with the words, ‘I hope the contents will reach you’.

Anti-Graham Wafers, Punch, from Spielmann, History of Punch, Project Gutenberg. This image is in the public domain – Click to enlarge.

We can assume that a rather wealthy personage adopted one of the wafer slogans and instead of having to buy a sheet every time, a permanent seal was made to be used with wax. This explains the cryptic words on the intaglio … and the date fits in nicely too!

I’ve had that seal for fifteen years and only now know the significance of SHOULD THIS MEET YOUR EYE. Isn’t this hobby fascinating?



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24 responses to Unusual Georgian Fob Seal – Cold Case Solved!

  1. I have found only one seal John.. in many years of detecting…It would be nice to say that it was
    all special and intriguing; alas, it is a run of the mill item with but a single letter on it.. But I did dig it, so.. it is special in its’ own way.

    Now all that being said, I do have a very special seal that I do own.. It is our family crest [a ring] that has been handed down, father to son,
    in an unbroken line, since the ring was first made for one of my forbears in 1795. Not as old as many finds retrieved over there perhaps,
    but still very meaningful to me.

  2. Nice John, never underestimate the power of positive thinking

  3. Maybe you should have put a call out for some physic help to make the phone or internet repair person appear when you needed them recently.
    Nice looking seal.
    I remember reading some young blokes post recently on the Unearthed forum. I bet that John Winter bloke doesn’t even detect. At least you have been there, done that.

  4. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 26th February 2017 at 5:32 AM

    Well I can’t say I’ve seen you as a miserable old bugger, in fact mostly the opposite.

    I’d love to find a seal, but I suspect it’s not that likely here in Canada.

    Thanks for the good read though.

  5. Morning John,memories are something to cherish.

    You just jogged my memory into thinking about a perfect seal that I found a few years ago which belonged to the first Chaplain of St Mary`s Wedmore in Somerset.

    Thomas the Chaplain 1311AD is understood to have have had his Glebe not to far from St Mary`s church where the seal was located at a Sunday WHRADA dig.

    The Latin inscription reads this is the seal of Thomas the chaplain.

    He is also the shown on the old church scroll recording of all the Vicars from over the centuries.

    Best Wishes,


  6. another good post john. i’d say there there was something to the positive thinking/attitude/confidence, if you go out detecting with negative thoughts/attitude/ no confidence surely your off to a bad start, lol.
    you cant beat experience and knowledge, but could luck be put down to positive thinking ?
    i have been lucky enough to find a fob/ seal intact and im still in my first year, sadly the seal/ glass was intact but had not been inscribed, yours is a beauty and the inscription is well and truly different, i think it gives you a small insight to the previous owners personality, surely this man must have been large tough but jovial man full of fun & comedy. either that or a money lender, lol.
    keep up the good work john,

  7. I love anything fob seal of vesica seal (even a grey seal !) As yet I am to find a full one. I have a small broken piece of vesica seal but would dearly love to find either. Your example John is one I can only dream about its a beauty.

  8. Very interesting John and you can’t beat the exercising of the grey matter scouring the past for all of the good times and always remember it our experiences from 40 – 60 years ago which makes the best stories.
    Our past finds are always the source of the making of the perfect story, well I think so.

  9. I’m sure that I am not the only one to discover that my recollections of events that happened 60 years ago are clearer to me than things that my wife told me earlier today and dare I say often more interesting.
    I am quite curious about the details of how and where you discovered that seal. Is it written somewhere?

  10. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 26th February 2017 at 11:39 PM

    “I hope the contents will reach you”, was the one I liked the best. Hahahaha…….although there were a few good ones.

  11. It was interesting to read the update on the seal’s wording.

  12. That update with information from DIOZ (Dave In Oz) is certainly an eye opener.

  13. The information from Dioz makes the seal even more interesting as it has more meaning.

  14. Interesting article which has reminded be that Kathy found a really nice condition complete fob with lots of detail on at the WW Rally near Deanshanger a year or so ago and although recorded has never since appeared on PAS so I will give it a go on the tother one for an ID on it, seals in good condition as you mention do not come up all that often.

    • Hello Paul,. Good to hear from you. Kathy’s seal sounds interesting and you have just reminded re that I should send the info on my seal to the UKDFD for an update.

  15. wow ..what a fab read ….and it makes me a proud person to have dave on our team hes a great asset to our forum

  16. Hi John
    I came across your article about the fob seal whilst googling about them, I found one nr Wellingborough on Saturday 27th August the field was a very big arable one rising steaply at one end. Something drew me to the top high end of the field where 3 trees were in a row on the hedge line, I was about 15′ in and got which was probably my best signal all day. As I retrieved the item from the spoil the loop at the top appeared first, I knew straight away I had a fob seal and was praying the antaglio was still in place however this wasn’t to be and was missing, the top is bent slightly has a lovely pattern to the base and still has a touch of gilt on it. Pity I can’t show you photo. I was wondering where I should go to try and get something carved with my initials on to sit in the base, just an idea. Anyhow it’s a nice find for my artifact collection

  17. Thank you Geoff. I’ll send you an email address for you to send the picture … I’d be interested,.

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