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29 March, 1696. A Vast, Visually Dramatic William III Document, With Original Pendant Seal in Pristine Condition. 495 x 705 mm (19 1/2 x 27 3/4"). 19 lines in a professional scribe's notarial hand. UPPER LEFT CORNER WITH A VERY LARGE ENGRAVED PORTRAIT OF THE KING (measuring approximately 240 x 220 mm., including its calligraphic surround), the first words of the document ("Gulielmus Tertius Dei") in large, bold, calligraphic letters across the full length of the document, and WITH A LOVELY SWIRLING ENGRAVED INHABITED ACANTHUS BORDER IN THE TOP MARGIN, incorporating a pheasant, a rampant lion, an eagle, a stork, and a unicorn. WITH THE LARGE ROYAL SEAL, measuring slightly more than 100 mm. in diameter, on its vellum thong at the bottom, the seal ENCASED IN ITS ORIGINAL PAPER WRAPPER (now adhering to the wax and fitting around its contours). The border decoration at the top and the final word of the first line of text trimmed off at the right (though the rest of the text intact), a bit of abrasion along folds and four small holes where folds intersect, very slight soiling, otherwise IN FINE CONDITION, the engraved decoration and written text rich and clear, the vellum bright and fresh, and the seal perfectly preserved. This superb royal document is an exemplification of recovery, a document used in the transfer of title to land. A "common recovery" was in essence a fake lawsuit in which all parties colluded to break entails, those conditions or stipulations that restricted the inheritance or transfer of a particular piece of land to certain individuals.The judgment of the court (usually the Court of Common Pleas) could be used to transfer the property as the parties wished. The exemplification, always a very attractive document featuring a portait of the monarch and the Great Seal, was an official copy of the court record that could be used to prove the title to the land. Until the mid-18th century, these documents were written in Latin using an archaic, and almost indecipherable, court hand. This exemplification concerns the recovery of lands in Beguildy, a small village seven miles northwest of Knighton in Radnorshire, South Wales; the principals involved are Hugh Lewis, Michael Taylor, and Morgan Vaughan. In addition to the Great Seal, our document sports a blue paper seal with an embossed version of the royal seal, most likely a revenue stamp denoting fees paid when the property was transferred. Because the paper wrapping around the royal seal now takes the shape of the contours of the impressions in the wax, we can see that the recto depicts a rampant lion and unicorn flanking a shield, with a crown above and a stylized "W" beneath, and the verso shows the monarch seated on a prancing horse, with the "W" floating behind his back. This appears to be the second seal of the king, used after Mary II died in 1694. It is difficult to find any large antiquarian royal wax seal in fine condition, and to encounter it, as here, encased in its original wrapper, is extraordinarily lucky.
      [Bookseller: Phillip J. Pirages Fine Books and Mediev]
Last Found On: 2013-08-01           Check availability:      Biblio    


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