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Copper alloy seal matrix, shown from the side. It is hexagonal and has a trefoil shaped loop at the top, which would have attached to a chain. Seals were used to authenticate documents, much as signatures are today. In all classes of society, men and women used them in formal or legal transactions. They were closely guarded and often worn as a signet ring or hung on a chain around the owner's neck. This particular seal matrix bears a Latin inscription - "S' IONIS PICOT", "S[eal] of John Picot", and the Picot family coat of arms. The Picots were wealthy merchants and Aldermen of London (part of the City government). A John Picot is recorded as being active in the Bishopsgate ward in 1346, this seal matrix may be his.
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