Trad­ing Post

Tales and Trea­sures from the rich legacy of the Hud­son’s Bay Com­pany

Canada's History - - CONTENTS -

Bale seals were crimped to fur bun­dles ready for sale.

Bale seals were crimped to fur bun­dles that had been sorted and pre­pared for ex­hi­bi­tion to po­ten­tial buy­ers. The ear­li­est seals were made from lead, but these twen­ti­eth-cen­tury seals were made from pro­cessed sheet iron that had been pro­tected from cor­ro­sion with some kind of lac­quered fin­ish. The HBC Collection at the Man­i­toba Mu­seum has a few late-nine­teenth- and early twen­ti­eth­cen­tury va­ri­eties but no ex­am­ples of ear­lier lead seals. How did the seals work? Furs were wrapped in forty-kilo­gram burlap bun­dles, and a rope or cord was tied around the exterior. The burlap was sten­cilled with im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the point of ori­gin and own­er­ship, and the seals were likely crimped around the cord. Bale seals are one of the most com­monly forged Hud­son’s Bay Com­pany ar­ti­facts on the mar­ket, with many crude ex­am­ples of flat metal pieces with con­joined HBC and beaver iconog­ra­phy mis­tak­enly listed as bale seals.

— Amelia Fay, cu­ra­tor of the HBC Collection at the Man­i­toba Mu­seum

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