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Wax Seal
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Title: Wax Seal
Identifier: 979.6.890.4
Donor: Geoffrey Sayers
Item Date: 1881
Creation Date: 2011
Location: Benares Historic House

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Description: A metal and bone (? ivory) wax seal. This seal has a shield shape metal end with the letter 'M' engraved in script. The handle has been turned and has variations in colour. The seal is located in 979.6.890.1.

Wax or clay seals were often applied to close letters. The seal would indicate whether the item had been opened or tampered with. The image on the seal would provide proof of who the sender was. Individuals, families, businesses and governments would have their own unique seal which was known to the public. In the 19th century seals were used primarily for private letters and official government documents. Many people would have a seal created with their initials or name which they then used to seal their correspondence.

This seal was located inside the sewing box with writing slope that was a wedding present to Mary Magrath when she married Arthur Harris in September 1881. It accompanied them on their wedding trip to New York. Mary Horatia Magrath Harris (1859-1954) was the granddaughter of Reverend James Magrath (1769- 1851), who was the first rector of St. Peter's Anglican Church in Erindale. Her parents, Christiana (née Sutherland) and William Melchior Magrath, married in 1856. Christiana died after the birth of her third daughter, Isabel, in 1860. Mary and her two sisters were raised by their aunt, Anna Cordelia Magrath, at Erindale Estate. Both the Magraths and Harrises were members of the St. Peter's Anglican Church and the families knew each other well. It was at church that Mary and Arthur Harris first met and later married in 1881. Mary and Arthur had three children, Annie (1882- 1986), Naomi and Margaret (1887). Oral tradition suggests that Mary never fully recovered from the sad loss of her third child and she suffered hearing impairment soon after. Mary was a very generous woman and held in high esteem by all who knew her. She enjoyed polishing silver, crocheting, and gardening. Mary died at the age of 94, January 20th, 1956.
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