Thursday, March 1, 2012
Lead Bale Seal from Fort de Chartres
This is a lead bale seal found during our 2011 work at Fort de Chartres III. The seal was probably used during the 1740s or early 1750s. While we usually assume lead seals found in 18th century French contexts were part of the fur trade (used to bind together furs for export), the few that have been recovered in Illinois are often associated with bales of French goods (cloth or clothing) that were being imported into the colony. I have a hunch that is what this one was affiliated with, but we haven't been able to decipher it....
On that topic, below are two lead seals found at the nearby Ghost Horse site, occupied between 1735 and 1770. At least one of these was actually attached to a bale of men's hosiery. Better yet, there is evidence that the house was occupied by Pierre Laclede, who wintered at the village of Chartres in 1763, just prior to founding the city St. Louis.
(The Ghost Horse site is described in the new book At Home in the Illinois Country - see sidebar link.)