publisher colophon

114. Seal of Jacob the Jew (the Scribe)

[    ]Jacob[    ]

Dimensions: 20 mm. Impression.

Location: Main Provinicial Archives of Koblenz, 1A No. 5238.

Bibliography: Brincken, 1963–64; Schilling, 1964, 1:B167.

These two seals were appended to a parchment document dated November 11, 1345, 23 × 15 cm., written in German. The seal of Vivelin is missing. A fragment of a seal, that of a Christian official of Trier, is still visible. Also appended is the seal of Jacob son of Daniel (Nathanael), in damaged condition. This is the same seal as No. 112.

The fourth seal belongs to another Jacob, called “the Scribe” in the document. This seal is also quite damaged. What remains is a central shield on which are superimposed letters in the three corners and in the center. At the upper left is IA, at the upper right C; in the center the letter O is formed by a crescent moon to the right with what seems to be a face to the left set into the curve of the crescent; below is a B. These spell the name IACOB in a very unusual design. Round the shield is a rather free-style lineal representation of another shield. In the space between this line and the inner rim line is the remnant of the Latin legend. Between beaded lines circling the rim are the remains of a Hebrew legend: now all that can be read is the single word Yaakob.

Document B153 is an adjustment on a debt obligation owed to Jacob son of Daniel the Older, a Jew at Trier, dated 1326. Jacob is the only Jew involved, and the only seal attached must belong to him. However, the seal clearly states in Hebrew “Jacob son of Nathanael.” Documents B166 and B167, both from 1345, refer to Jacob son of Daniel as one of the parties. B166, illustrated in No. 112 above, states in Latin Iacobi Ivdei and in Hebrew “Jacob son of Master Nathanael,” though the seal is not the same as B153, illustrated in No. 106 above. B167 refers to Jacob son of Daniel from Trier as well as to another Jacob also from Trier, with the German nickname Screber, surely referring to his profession of scribe or copyist. It thus is clear that there are two different Jews from Trier named Jacob, identified in both cases by the standard Latin phrase Iacobi Ivdei on their seals.

It is also apparent that Jacob son of Daniel had two different seals. Dr. van den Brincken believes that the earlier one, whose last letters of the Hebrew legend, if correctly read, indicate that the seal owner’s father is still alive, was no longer applicable after the father’s death, and thus a new seal was ordered with the appropriate pious phrase for the altered circumstances. This supposition is logical, particularly because of the number of years elapsed between the use of the two seals.*

This extant document concerning Jacob son of Daniel and Vivelin the Red is an important one, giving us a picture of the economic power of German Jews for a brief time in the late medieval period. A summary follows. Vivelin of Strassburg [Strasbourg] assigns to Archbishop Baldwin of Trier a claim for 1,090 pounds heller, which Lord Walram, Count of Zweibrücken, owes to the issuer (Vivelin) and to the Trier Jew Jacob son of Daniel; he waives all rights to the said sum. He also waives the 750 gulden which the Jew Vogelin of Strassburg has lent to the archbishop and wishes to assign to the issuer.

Again, we see not only that this small group of Jewish plutocrats were on intimate terms with the head of state and the high nobility, but that they arranged their financial affairs as well. It is clear that Jacob son of Daniel is the same “Jacob Daniels” who from 1341 to 1347 directed the financial affairs of the ecclesiastical court at Trier either directly or through his son-in-law Michel. We thus have here the actual seal, or, to be precise, two seals, of the Jewish treasurer of Archbishop Baldwin, brother of Emperor Henry VII, rivaling in interest the seals of Jacob of London, Rabbi Samson son of Samson, Rabbi Kalonymos son of Todros, Todros son of Samuel Halevi, and Nachmanides.


*Jacob son of Daniel also sealed a fourth document dated December 3, 1341, whether with the earlier or later seal we do not know because the document is lost. See Stengel, 1930, Nos. 697–99.

*Jacob son of Daniel also sealed a fourth document dated December 3, 1341, whether with the earlier or later seal we do not know because the document is lost. See Stengel, 1930, Nos. 697–99.

It is also apparent that Jacob son of Daniel had two different seals. Dr. van den Brincken believes that the earlier one, whose last letters of the Hebrew legend, if correctly read, indicate that the seal owner’s father is still alive, was no longer applicable after the father’s death, and thus a new seal was ordered with the appropriate pious phrase for the altered circumstances. This supposition is logical, particularly because of the number of years elapsed between the use of the two seals.*

Next Chapter

115. Seal of Joseph

Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
222-223
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Language
English
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.