publisher colophon

Bohemia and Moravia

164. Seals of Beness and Pincas

Dimensions: unknown.

Location: unknown.

Bibliography: Jacobi, 1841, No. 182.

There is little literature on Bohemian and Moravian seals, and certain reference material noted in various sources could not be found in United States libraries. Berthold Bretholz in his history of the Moravian Jews from the eleven to the fifteen hundreds records a statement from a document dated October 22, 1346, between Christian and Jewish interests that, “lacking their own seals” (“propriis carentes sigillis”), the Jews could not seal (1935, p. 31, No. 50). This has been cited as proof that Jews in this area did not have seals, but a careful reading of Bretholz’s text seems to indicate that the Jews in the situation recorded in the document lacked seals, rather than that no Jewish seals were permitted.

The codex of King John of Bohemia, edited by Theodor Jacobi, is a printed compilation from the original Latin of letters involving the reign of that king. No seals are shown. Item 182 is not dated, but from the dating of the surrounding documents, which are numbered chronologically, we see that it comes from the period 1333 to 1340. The translation of the item is as follows:

A judge of Prague admonishes a citizen in that he should redeem his pledges for the money whose debt has been attested to in accordance with recognized Jewish custom by sage men of the Jews and by those of sworn legal authority at Neumburg* in public and open evidence. Beness and Pincas the Small, Jews of Prague, declaring themselves immediately ready to comply as required, offered as evidence of sound collateral the material pledges given previously by Conrad Trautwein, that is, two silver bowls and a helmet and shield, which those responsible men, Jesco and Ramszo of Tzetzelitz, because of a doubt about the value of these same items, have pledged nine large new Prague gulden, which they have to pay off, and which they have promised to pay off, up to which time we are obliged to keep the aforesaid pledges in our power. The true words of which we confirm by signing for the Jewry and to which we have affixed our seals. Given….

Note should be taken that Beness and Pincas sealed not only for themselves but “for the Jewry,” that is, as representatives of the entire Prague Jewry. Here again we see that the collective body of the Jews was involved in these debts, despite their individual nature.

There are certain areas where this writer is certain that additional medieval Jewish seals will be uncovered in the future. Because of its geography and history—and especially a very large and continuous German influence—Bohemia stands in the forefront.


*A note states that this is Nimburg, in the Bunzlauer district.

The Latin reads, “novem fertonibus gr[ossorum] Pragensium.” The Hungarian forint is equivalent to the florin or gulden, and the writer assumes the same for the Prague ferton.

*A note states that this is Nimburg, in the Bunzlauer district.

The Latin reads, “novem fertonibus gr[ossorum] Pragensium.” The Hungarian forint is equivalent to the florin or gulden, and the writer assumes the same for the Prague ferton.

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
308-310
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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