Obverse and reverse of a lead seal
Augsburg Seals

Nearly 20% of lead seals recovered from Jamestown have markings that indicate the seals are from Augsburg, Germany—by far the most popular type of seals on site! The stylized “A” and Swiss pinecone are symbols of the city of Augsburg, with the pinecone first incorporated into the city’s coat of arms in the 1200s. These markings appear on most lead seals from Augsburg dating to 1607-1620. In the 17th century, the city was known for exporting fustian, a cotton-linen blend that would have been just right for life in the Virginia climate.

These four lead seals seen in the image below were found in situ in Pit 11, a storage pit used in the earliest years of James Fort. The closed seals were probably attached to a scrap of cloth cut away from a larger piece used to make clothing or home furnishings. When the scrap was thrown away, the cloth degraded but the lead seals survived. According to inspection policy in 16th-17th century Augsburg, four identical seals on the same piece was meant to indicate a fustian of “very high” quality.

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