Elegant bone and silver-mounted desk seal, c. 1682, the handle in the form of a sphere unscrewing at its equator with a compartment for wafers, the intaglio quartz matrix (1 cm) with the arms of Narcissus Luttrell and his wife Sarah, dexter: Luttrell and Mapowder (his mother, heiress with her sister of the Mapowder estate) and, sinister: Baker for his wife Sarah, 7 cm long, small chip to matrix edge.
A rare 17th century example of a fine desk seal with an important book collecting association. Narcissus Luttrell (1657 – 1732) was a member of Parliament, annalist and book collector, whose chronicles of contemporary events and parliamentary diary are particularly valuable. His very extensive library of books and manuscripts, especially political and poetical works, was dispersed piecemeal by Luttrell’s descendants and many items are no longer traceable. A substantial number of the printed works were eventually acquired by the British Library, and a large number of manuscripts found their way to the Codrington Library in 1786, while more recently many items were donated to the Beinecke Library of Yale University. Luttrell married Sarah, daughter of Daniel Baker (a prosperous London merchant), in February 1682 and this seal is likely to have been made close after that date. Luttrell’s silver penner with the same arms on the top is held by the Victoria & Albert Museum (Ref. M. 298 – 1975).