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Object Record

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Object Name Case, Seal
Catalog Number 0985.13.00229a
Date April 1864
Description Box: blue leather-covered box, with hinged lid, lined in blue velvet, with a brass escutcheon, lock, and key.

[*** Note: The two leather cases for the Great Seal of the Confederacy appear to have become mixed up over time. One was donated with the Great Seal of the Confederacy (0985.13.229), and the other was donated with its carrying satchel (0985.12.15a), but it is unknown which is which. At time seal was sent from Great Britain, an invoice specified "box with spring lock", which would be this one, 0985.13.229a. While both cases are believed authentic and connected to the seal, it is unknown which case was provided by which donor at what time.]
Made Joseph S. Wyon
Provenance The Great Seal of the Confederacy was intended to be the official governmental seal for all documents generated by the Executive branch of the Confederate States of America. The device of the seal was decided upon on April 30, 1863. Secretary of State Judah Benjamin contacted James Mason, the Confederacy's diplomatic representative in London, England, with the instruction that he commission the seal's manufacture. Joseph S. Wyon, Chief Engraver of Her Majesty's Seals, designed and cast the seal in silver, completing the piece by April 12, 1864. Fearing that the seal might be captured on its route from London to Richmond, Mason waited to receive word from Secretary Benjamin regarding plans for transporting the seal. On July 6, 1864 Lieutenant Robert Chapman of the Confederate States Navy was entrusted with the small box containing the seal to be carried in a leather satchel.
After the evacuation of Richmond the seal, along with other documente relating to the Department of State, were hidden by clerk William J. Bromwell, at the request of the Secretary of State. It was taken to Charlotte, NC (according to one tradition, Mrs. Bromwell hid the seal in her clothing) and stored with other Confederate records in the county court house. After the fall of the Confederacy, attorney John T. Pickett was charged with disposing of the materials; but he retained the Seal as a portion of his fee. Reproductions of the seal were made to raise funds for Southern widows and orphans. In recognition for the contributions of Lt. Thomas Selfridge to that project, Pickett gave him the seal. The whereabouts of the seal were unknown for many years, until determined in 1912 by Gaillard Hunt of the Library of Congress. Three Richmond citizens -- Eppa Hunton, William H. White, and Thomas P. Bryan -- purchased the seal for $3,000, and presented it as a loan to the museum in 1915; the loan was later subsequently converted to a gift.
Search Terms Richmond, Virginia