Russian Cloth Seals in Britain: A Guide to Identification, Usage and Anglo-Russian Trade in the 18th and 19th Centuries

Russian Cloth Seals in Britain: A Guide to Identification, Usage and Anglo-Russian Trade in the 18th and 19th Centuries

By: John Sullivan (author)Hardback

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For many decades in the 18th and 19th centuries, Russia was the world's greatest exporter of flax and hemp and Great Britain its major customer. Most studies of flax and hemp and their associated industries have hitherto concentrated on the economic and historical events surrounding the rise and fall of these industries in Britain. This book is based on a large body of new material consisting of lead-alloy seals that were attached to bundles of flax and hemp exported from Russia and aims chiefly to describe the different seals that were used and to explain the reasons why they were employed. It offers a short history of their use, a guide to their identification and a catalogue of items recovered in Britain, opening up a valuable new source of material for analysing a different aspect of the history of commercial relations between Russia and Britain and providing assistance for finders and museum curators in identifying and deciphering these objects correctly. The text guides the reader through the different types of seal so far recorded using illustrations, transliterations of the Cyrillic texts found on the seals and explanatory tables, as well as a comprehensive catalogue. Analysis is conducted of the information found in the seals. This information provides us with a picture of the manner in which the export of these products from Russia to Britain was handled and allows us to make comparisons over different periods of time and to analyse the different systems of quality control used. It also enables us to record the geographical distribution of Russian ports used for the export of flax and hemp to the UK, where the spread of their distribution tells us something of the redistribution of these imports and provides an understanding of the use to which their by-products were put as part of the agricultural practices of the 18th and 19th centuries.

About Author

The author began studying Russian in 1950 and after completing a degree in Russian Studies at the University of Manchester went on to eventually become Chairman of the Russian Department at the University of St Andrews. His research interests lie in the development of Russian language and, since the mid-1990s, Russian lead-alloy cloth seals.


Prolegomena 1. Russian trade with Britain 1.1 1.2 Russian flax and hemp trade with England 1.3 Russian flax and hemp trade with Scotland 2. Russian ports 2.1 St Petersburg 2.2 Riga 2.3 Archangel 2.4 3. Background to the use of lead-alloy seals 3.1 Quality control (brack, braque) in the Russian Empire 4. Grades of flax and hemp 4.1 Terms used in grading 4.2 Archangel flax 4.3 St Petersburg flax 4.4 St Petersburg hemp 4.5 Riga flax grades 4.6 Grades in other Baltic ports 4.7 Russian hemp 4.8 Summary of flax and hemp sorts 4.9 Maps 4.9.1 Russia 1740-1905 4.9.2 Northern and Central Russia 4.9.3 St Petersburg and the Baltic 4.9.4 Southern Russia Part One: Lead Seals of Russ ian Origin 5. Russian seals and their characteristics 5.1 Flax and hemp bundle seals 5.1.1 Summary of flax and hemp seal types 5.2 Characteristics of Russian seals 5.2.1 Russian seals, 1740s-1760 5.2.2 Unprovenanced Russian seals, 1740s-1760 5.2.3 Russian seals, 1760s-1840s 5.2.4 Obverse of Russian seals, 1760s-1840s 5.2.5 Reverse of Russian seals, 1760s-1840s 5.2.6 St Petersburg seals, 1830-early 1840s 5.2.7 Seals with two surnames 5.2.8 St Petersburg seals, 1840s-1850s 5.2.9 Archangel seals 28 5.2.10 Archangel seals, pre-1820s 5.2.11 Archangel seals, 1820s-1839 29 5.2.12 Obverse of Archangel seals, 1820s-1839 5.2.13 Reverse of Archangel seals, 1820s-1839 5.2.14 Archangel seals, 1838-1902 5.2.15 Seals from adjacent provinces 5.2.16 Russian words and abbreviations on Archangel seals 5.2.17 Quality control officers (desyatniki) 5.2.18 Date of Russian flax and hemp seals 5.2.19 Initials of producers/owners/agents 5.2.20 Letters and digits on the reverse of Russian lead seals 5.2.21 Initials on the obverse/reverse of St Petersburg seals 5.2.22 Post numbers on Russian seals 5.3 Railway seals 5.4 Fur-trade seals 5.5 Miscellaneous Russian seals 5.5.1 Seals with Russian State arms 5.5.2 Seals with Russian city arms 5.5.3 Seals bearing State arms 5.5.4 Seals with St Petersburg city arm 5.5.5 Seal with arms of Siberia 5.6 Russian trade seals 5.6.1 Possible unidentified flax seals 5.6.2 Seals with links to other commercial activities 5.6.3 Individual and company names 5.6.4 Seals from the Soviet period 5.7 Seals from the Russian Empire 5.7.1 Riga flax seals 5.8 Other possible Baltic/Riga seals 5.9 Concluding remarks 5.10 Illustrations Part Two: Catalogue of Lead Seals 6.1 Cyrillic letters on Russian seals 6.1.1 Transliteration of Russian seals 6.1.2 Conventions used in transcription 6.2 Seals in Scottish museums 6.3 Seals in English museums 6.4 Seals in Private Collectioins 6.4.1 Private owners/collectors: abbreviations 6.5 Seals from incomplete or inaccurately reported source Part Three: Appendices 7.1 Archangel Quality Control Officers 7.2 St Petersburg Quality Control Officers 7.3 Other Quality Control Officers 7.3.1 Other Quality Control Officers (Provenance indeterminable) 7.4 Dates of Russian flax and hemp seals 7.5 Initials of producers/exporters/agents 7.5.1 Initials of producers/exporters/agents on Archangel seals 7.5.2 Initials of producers/exporters/agents on St Petersburg seals 7.6 Initials and digits on Russian seals 7.6.1 Initials and digits on St Petersurg seals 7.6.2 Initials and digits on seals of uncertain provenance 7.6.3 Initials and digits on seals of undetermined origin 7.7 Initials in first line of St Petersburg and unprovenanced seals 7.7.1 Initials on obverse 7.7.2 Initials on reverse 7.8 Post numbers in final line of the obverse of seals

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781842174654
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 224
  • ID: 9781842174654
  • ISBN10: 1842174657

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