Cloth Seal, Van Franchois, Bay Seal, Cock, Portcullis

Cloth Seal, Van Franchois, Bay, Cock, Portcullis, Image & Found by S.Bostelaar.
Found in Middelburg, Netherlands, 18g, 43mm (3mm thick).

Portcullis with chains, VAN FRANCHOIS...O.VAGEAIS around // Cockerel, FIINE GEIS(E?) COCKSAISE BAIIE around

The structure of this artefact is most unusual. The stamp on either side of a single disc suggests a token rather than a seal but the large size and images are more in keeping with a cloth seal. 'BAIIE' in the inscription probably refers to the fabric, bay - usually a mixed woollen warp/worsted weft textile, though (baye, baey, bays) sometimes described by contemporaries as a woollen (probably due to it being fulled), one of the principal lightweight new draperies, used for linings etc.

While the images are common on English cloth seals, the inscriptions are obviously Continental. They are reminiscent of the German Merchants seals (see BSG.CS.00372 and p.278-281, Elton, Cloth Seals, 2017) but with a portcullis instead of the Tudor arms and a cock instead of a rose. The Germanic seals were also double in structure with two discs fused together whereas this is definitely a single disc, as shown by the side-on pictures and also the weight.

The cock often appeared on Coggeshall bays, which had a high reputation for this type of fabric and was often imitated - BSG.CS.01102.

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