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Copper alloy seal matrix. It is engraved with a shield bearing 3 crosses and has an inscription around the edge: '"S' IONIS PICOT", meaning "Seal of John Picot". 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. 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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