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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Byzantine Coins| ▸ |Byzantine Seals||View Options:  |  |  |   

Byzantine Seals

During the Byzantine period, lead bullae (singular, Bulla) were widely used to seal and identify the sender of correspondence and containers in shipment. An iron, pliers-shaped instrument, a boulloterion, was used to impress the designs on a lead bulla seal. After the cord was wrapped around the package or document and the ends inserted in a channel in the blank seal, the seal was placed between the disc shaped engraved dies on the jaws of a boulloterion. The boulloterion had a projection above the jaws, which was struck with a hammer to impress the design on the seal and close the channel around the two ends of the cord. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.


First Bulgarian Empire, Peter I, 927 - 969 A.D., Lead Bulla Seal

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This seal was reportedly found together with a hoard of Romanus I, Constantine II and Romanus II solidi, some of which are now available for sale in our Byzantine Gold section. The seal may have once tied a leather bag containing the coins; perhaps a Bulgarian imperial payment.

Peter was the son of Simeon the Great 893 - 927, architect of the Golden Age for the Bulgarian Empire. In 927 the Bulgarians and the Byzantines signed apeace treaty which recognized Peter's Imperial title, the borders and the Bulgarian Patriarchate. In addition, Peter married Maria Lecapene, renamed Eirene (Peace) for the event.

An inferior example (with a finder's cut defacing Peter) was estimated $1000 and sold for $650 plus fees in Triton XI, 2008.
SH33751. Lead bulla (tag seal), gVF, weight 18.524 g, maximum diameter 22.8 mm, die axis 0o, obverse + IhSuS XPI[...]+, facing bust of Christ, holding book of Gospels in left hand, cross behind head; reverse blundered legend naming Peter, facing busts of Peter, wearing chlamys, and his wife, Eirine (Maria) Lecapene, wearing loros, both crowned, holding patriarchal cross between them; well formed seal, nice round thick flan, attractive buff-grey patina; SOLD


Jewish, Lead Menorah Bulla Seal, 7 Branched Menorah on Each Side, c. 6th - 10th Century A.D.

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A bulla (plural, bullae), is a lump of clay or lead molded around a cord and stamped with a seal that identifies the sender. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, thereby ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.
JD34522. Menorah bulla seal, weight 11.1 g, maximum diameter 16.9 mm, 8.9 mm thick; rare; SOLD


Roman, Imperial Cone Shaped Lead Bulla Seal, 4th Century A.D.

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The portrait appears to be that of Constantine the Great. Interesting.
AS38022. Lead bulla (tag seal), VF, weight 16.211 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, obverse laureate and draped bust right; SOLD


Theodosius I, 19 January 379 - 17 January 395 A.D.

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This type of lead conical bulla seal is commonly attributed to Theodosius I with his sons, Arcadius and Honorius. While the attribution is not certain, there is reason behind it. The form is correct for the period and the type is very common for a seal. Forum has handled a few examples and there are at least four on Coin Archives. The large number of specimens supports attribution to the emperor, in whose name there was a lot of correspondence. Theodosius and his two sons are the best imperial fit for these three facing busts.
AS89555. Lead bulla (tag seal), conical type, commonly attributed to Theodosius I and his sons Arcadius and Honorius, VF, gray and buff surfaces, weight 9.316 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, obverse three bare-headed and draped busts facing, center bust larger, two flanking busts smaller; reverse domed back, pierced for the cord; ex CNG e-auction 233 (26 May 2010), lot 504; SOLD


Late Roman or Byzantine Lead Token, c. 5th - 11th Century

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The legend on this piece, H XAPIC EIMI, translates literally to "I am a grace." In this context, XAPIC (grace) should probably be translated as a favor, thanks, or an offering.
BZ53321. Lead token, VF, weight 10.618 g, maximum diameter 31.2 mm, obverse H XA/PIC EI/MI, retrograde inscription in three lines; a very interesting and large piece!; SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Kemales Tzotzikes, Protospatharios, Hypatos and Strategos of Artach, c. 1000 - 1150

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The name Kermales was common among the Turks. The family name Tzotzikios, however, clearly indicates this general was Georgian. His name is also found among the founders of monastery of Iviron. Georgians played a significant role in the service of the empire and Artach (modern Irtah, 40 KM east of Antioch) was an important fortress on the eastern frontier captured by the Byzantines in 966, facing the emirate of Aleppo.
BZ49868. Lead bulla (tag seal), cf. Zacos III 262 (larger, 22.88g), broken in two, weight 10.092 g, maximum diameter 24.8 mm, obverse [O AΓIOΣ ΘEO∆ΩPOΣ], St Theodoros standing facing in military dress, spear in right, left rests on grounded shield; reverse +KEM/AΛHC ACΠ/ΘAP VΠATO/Σ CTPATIΓ / TOu APTAX/O TZOTZI/KIC (in 7 lines); SOLD


Byzantine Empire, Maurice Tiberius, 13 August 582 - 22 November 602 A.D.

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BZ49855. Lead decanummium, Morrisson, "Monnaies en plomb byzantines" in RIN LXXXIII (1981), 6; copying the bronze decanummi of Ravenna (cf. SBCV 601), F, weight 3.374 g, maximum diameter 15.5 mm, die axis 45o, uncertain mint, obverse helmeted and cuirassed bust facing, flanked by crosses; reverse large I (10 nummi) between two crosses; provincial emergency issue; scarce; SOLD


Byzantine, Lead Bulla Seal, 7th - 11th Century

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During the late Roman and Byzantine periods, lead bullae (singular, Bulla) were widely used to seal and identify the sender of correspondence and containers in shipment. An iron, pliers-shaped instrument, a boulloterion, was used to impress the designs on a lead bulla seal. After the cord was wrapped around the package or document and the ends inserted in a channel in the blank seal, the seal was placed between the disk shaped engraved dies on the jaws of a boulloterion. The boulloterion had a projection above the jaws, which was struck with a hammer to impress the design on the seal and close the channel around the two ends of the cord. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.
AS34517. Fine, weight 6.493 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 0o, obverse nimbate saint with cross in left; reverse cruciform monogram; SOLD


Byzantine, Lead Cone-Shaped Bulla Seal, c. 6th - 7th Century A.D.

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A bulla (plural, bullae), is a lump of clay or lead molded around a cord and stamped with a seal that identifies the sender. With a bulla in place a container cannot be violated without visible damage to either the bulla or the cord, thereby ensuring the contents remain tamper-proof until they reach their destination.
AS35600. Byzantine lead cone-shaped bulla seal; 14.1 g, 19.9 mm long, obverse draped bust right; reverse cruciform monogram; SOLD


Lot of Two Lead Seals

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BZ39328. Lead seal, Two lead seals, one Byzantine with Greek legend (16 x 15 mm), the other with a decorative pattern (24 mm diameter, perhaps Islamic), F, SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

Jordanov, I. Corpus of Byzantine Seals from Bulgaria. (Sofia, 2003).
Jordanov, I & Z. Zhekova. Catalogue of Medieval Seals at the Regional Historical Museum of Shumen. (Sofia, 2007).
Metcalf, D.M. Byzantine Lead Seals from Cyprus. (Nicosia, 2004).
Morrisson, C. "Monnaies en plomb byzantines" in RIN LXXXIII (1981).
Nesbitt, J. et al., eds. Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and the Fogg Museum of Art. (Washington, DC. 1991-2005).
Spink. Byzantine Seals from the Collection of George Zacos, Part I. Auction 127 (7 October 1998). London.
Spink. Byzantine Seals from the Collection of George Zacos, Part II. Auction 132 (25 May 1999). London.
Spink. Byzantine Seals from the Collection of George Zacos, Part III. Auction 135 (6 October 1999). London.
Youroukova P. & V. Penchev. Bulgarian Medieval Coins and Seals. (Sofia, 1990).
Zacos, G. Byzantine Lead Seals. (Berne, 1972-84).

Catalog current as of Thursday, December 5, 2019.
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Byzantine Seals