publisher colophon

Poland

174. Seal of Bohadamer Raszcicz

Dimensions: unknown.

Location: unknown.

Bibliography: Chmiel, 1899, 1901.

Apart from material from Breslau (now Wroclaw), which has been reviewed elsewhere, there are no known medieval Jewish Polish seals listed in any literature that the writer has encountered. There are, of course, dual handicaps here: the language and the difficulty of obtaining information from archives in a Communist-dominated country. Adam Chmiel, the only Polish authority this writer knows on the subject, published articles in 1899 and 1901 in a Polish magazine on numismatic archaeology. The first of the two was concerned with later Jewish seals. The second focused on a gold signet ring with a Hebrew inscription, which was dated 1565, but at the end of the article Chmiel mentions another seal:

One of the oldest seals known is from 1524. In the old archives of the city of Krakow, among other promissory notes, there is one dated October 6, 1524. In this note Bohadamer Raszcicz [variant spelling, Raszcius], “the son of a Jew from Ostra,” declares that he owes 133 zlotys to Justowi Glaczowi, the councilor of Krakow. The note ends as follows: “… czu pesserer urkuntt und sicherheyt hab ich meyn gewonlich signett oder peczyr auff dysen pryff gedrucht, der do geben ist am nesten donerstag nach francisci. Im 1524 Jare.”* Unfortunately, the seal is not preserved, and only a small trace of green wax remains on the promissory note on which it was imprinted.

Although we do not know how this seal looked and what its device was, we mention it here because the statement at the end of the promissory note, the corroboration, as well as the trace of wax, indicate that it existed. Today it is the oldest one known [italics added].

Despite the seeming discrepancy between the two statements in italics, it does seem clear that Jewish seals in Poland do not go back beyond the early sixteenth century and hence cannot be considered in our study.

It is rather interesting that the 1524 promissory note cited by Chmiel was written in German by a scribe (whose spelling was not of the best) in Krakow, a city far east of the German border. We know that German immigrants into Poland in this period (as well as into Bohemia and Hungary) formed a large part of the urban population, and this is a small factual proof of that process. Indeed, this may not be a Jewish seal at all. Bohadamer Raszcicz is not a Jewish name, at a time when Jews could be distinguished by name in almost every case. Furthermore, the reference to Bohadamer as “the son of a Jew from Ostra” would seem to indicate that he was a convert: it was an almost invariable custom in that period to add “Ivd.” or “Jew” to the name in documents, and this variation makes one suspect that Bohadamer Raszcicz was the son of a Jew but not Jewish himself.


*“… for better documentation and safety I have impressed my regular seal or imprint on this letter, which has been delivered on the First Thursday after St. Francis’ Day. In the year 1524.”

*“… for better documentation and safety I have impressed my regular seal or imprint on this letter, which has been delivered on the First Thursday after St. Francis’ Day. In the year 1524.”

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814344859
MARC Record
OCLC
1055142843
Pages
364-365
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-02
Open Access
Yes
Creative Commons
CC-BY-NC-SA
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