This lead seal, embossed with the merchant's identifying mark, was discovered by archeologists during their excavations of Fort Stanwix during the 1970s. The seal was found in the ditch off the southwest bastion. The Orderly Book of the 1st New York Regiment describes tents that were erected in the ditch off the southwest bastion that were occupied by families. On June 4, 1780, Colonel Van Dyck ordered:
…those three Hutts in the South West Corner of the Ditch near the picquets are Ordered to be pulled Down the Quartermaster Serjt to Order the Camp Culom men for this duty & Warn those families who live in them to remove to their respective compys in the Fort by Eight Oclock to morrow
On the front of the seal (left), an embossed circle surrounds an interconnected design that contains the number "4" and the letter "C". The back side of the seal (right) has a roughly incised "9Z" or "92" above an embossed line with the number "25" below (Hsu and Hanson 1975: 150). The symbols on the lead seal were used to identify the merchant who was exporting their goods to places like Fort Stanwix.
Lead seals like this one were used to secure a "bale" or bundle of clothing or other textiles, such as linen, wool, felt, or furs (Hume 1969: 269; Adams 1989: 1-2). On July 6, 1777, Indian Commissioner Philip Schuyler responded to a letter that acknowledged the receipt of two bales of cloth for the Indians that were sent to Fort Stanwix from Boston by the firm of Livingston and Trumbull (Hsu and Hanson 1975: 150). Schuyler notes that these bales were numbered 172 and 173. While trade at Fort Stanwix is not well understood, artifacts, like this lead seal, shed light on some of the activities of the civilians living near the fort (or in the ditch).
To see this lead seal in closer detail and view the other side, visit the National Park Service Museum Collection Web Catalog: .
Adams, Diane. Lead Seals from Fort Michilimackinac. Archaeological Completion Report Series Number 14. Mackinac State Historic Parks: Mackinaw City, MI, 1989.
Hsu, Dick Ping and Lee Hanson. Casemates and Cannonballs: Archeological Investigations at Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome, New York. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service: Washington D.C, 1975.
Hume, Ivor Noël. A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, 1969.