publisher colophon

42. Seal of Bartoli of Alvenno the Jew


Dimensions: 25 mm. Matrix.

Location: collection of Michel de Bry, Paris.†

Bibliography: Rosenheim Collection, No. 158; Blumenkranz, 1965–66, No. 2, 24 (4); Bedos, 1980b, No. 2, 24 (4).

This round seal, with its circular legend between two rows of beading, shows a goat-like animal in the field. It now belongs to a private individual. This would seem to be an authentic Jewish seal because of the word TVD. Beyond that, we find a mystery. The first name Bartoli is most strange for a Jew, and the writer can find no place known as Alvenno nor any similar place name. The prefix Al, of course, is originally Arabic, and if this seal is genuine, it may come from Spain or possibly the Midi. De or D in Languedoc in the later Middle Ages came to mean “son of’ as well as “of,” and one can speculate that this name (like Al-Levi, on the famous Halevi seal from Spain [see No. 50]) might have originally been ben Al-Benu or some such name.

Bernhard Blumenkranz has informed this writer that the seal has been considered to be fifteenth-century Italian. He also raises the possibility that Alvenno might be identified with Aubenas, a city of Languedoc where Jews lived in the Middle Ages; since the inhabitants are still called Albenassiens, the old name must indeed have been close to Albenno or Alvenno. One Astruc d’Albenatio, living at Pamiers, is mentioned by Gustave Saige in his 1881 history of the Jews of Languedoc.

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