Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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May 15

Putting A Seal On It

Posted on May 15, 2017 at 11:27 AM by Jane Hindenlang

For over one thousand years, wax seals have been used on official documents. These seals usually have a seal-die, called a matrix, which was pressed into the wax leaving behind the official impression on the wax. These matrices ranged in size from small stamps, where you apply force by hand, to large screw, seal presses.

Around 1782, seal presses were designed to emboss a seal directly onto the paper, rather than into wax. Press seals became an instant success and today are sought after by collectors. There are a wide variety of styles and sizes of press seals, many of which are still used today.

In many of our handwritten records here in Greene County, you can find hand drawn seals in a variety of records. Perhaps this was because it was just easier to enter the hand-drawn seal into the record, maybe it was copied over from the original record that had a raised seal, or maybe there just wasn’t a local source to purchase seal presses when the county was first established in 1803.

 Seal  View of stamp plate
 Hand-drawn seal from Emancipation
of Free Blacks Record
 View of seal plate

Last month, we received a new item from the Board of Greene County Commissioners Office, a seal press. This brass, hand-painted, seal press contains the official seal of the Commissioner’s Office. The press is an indented body press with a sunburst painted on the sides. This press likely dates from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century (1880-1910). It is very possible that this may have been one of the first seal presses for the Commissioner’s Office when it moved into the new courthouse in 1901.

 sunburst close up  Commissioners stamp side
 Hand painted sunburst on the side of seal press.  Side view of seal press.

Until next time!

Trivia Question: What year was the Great Seal of the United States first made?


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