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The seal consists of a wooden handle and a brass seal matrix. The handle is made of wood, painted dark. The seal presses the coat of arms of the Austria-Hungary Empire, the so-called small version of coat of arms, which was in force from 1815 until 1915. It is surrounded by an inscription: “IMPERIAL AND ROYAL (C.K.) DISTRICT STAROST K.K. BEZIRKSHAUPTMANN WADOWICE” in a sealing wax.

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The seal consists of a wooden handle and a brass seal matrix. The handle is made of wood, painted dark. The seal presses the coat of arms of the Austria-Hungary Empire, the so-called small version of coat of arms, which was in force from 1815 until 1915. It is surrounded by an inscription: “IMPERIAL AND ROYAL (C.K.) DISTRICT STAROST K.K. BEZIRKSHAUPTMANN WADOWICE” in a sealing wax.
It was a sign of recognition of the Wadowice District established by virtue of the minister of state’s regulation from 1867 (in the time of the Austrian Partition). Earlier, since 1819, Wadowice was the seat of the cyrkuł (an administrative unit), one of 19, which Galicia had been divided into. It covered the area of the town and the Biała River. Since then, and until now, Wadowice has been the centre of administration, judiciary and other institutions important for social life in the country. Back then the Wadowice Starosty covered four judicial districts — Andrychów, Kalwaria, Wadowice and Zator. Districts were governed by starosts nominated by a governor. They were the lowest government authority. Autonomous power was exercised by the district council in Wadowice as a local government unit. In connection with the introduction of a new administrative unit in Wadowice–cyrkuł, prohibition against the Jews’ settlement, that is the rule “de non tolerandis iudaeis”, which had been valid since 1754, was abolished.
The seal is kept in the museum archive. It is an exhibit which invokes the history of Wadowice in the time of the Austrian Partition when the important development of the town was dated. In those days a powerful garrison had its base here; that is why a barracks, a hospital, and a town-hall were built. Significant development of education and culture took place. A lower secondary school was established and a separate building was built for this purpose. A circuit court with a separate building was organised, the Carmelites monastery together with a church on the Górnica Hill and a building for the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth came into being. The origin of the Wadowice industry arose at the turn of the century.
The seal can be a starting point to discuss the political system and functioning of the municipal authority in the time of the Austrian Partition. It can also initiate reflection on sigillography, which refers to the study and history of seals. Many seals from different periods of the town’s history can be found in the museum’s collection.

Elaborated by City Museum in Wadowice, © all rights reserved

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What is sigillography and the secret language of stamps?

Kazimierz Stronczyński, who was for some time in possession of the valuable Włocławek reliquary (Kruszwica reliquary) presented on the website, was a distinguished cataloguer of historical items, a creator of numismatics and an inestimable expert and researcher of seals...

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Kazimierz Stronczyński, who was for some time in possession of the valuable Włocławek reliquary (Kruszwica reliquary) presented on the website, was a distinguished cataloguer of historical items, a creator of numismatics and an inestimable expert and researcher of seals.
Sigillography is the science focused on the history, meaning and secret language of stamps.
In the past, when paper correspondence was the main channel for transferring information, there was a whole language of signs.
Private letters were always sealed with white wax. The shades of white had their significance: snow white was reserved for the most distinguished figures, off-white was used to seal letters addressed to persons of a lower rank.
Red wax, which can also be bought today, was intended for postal correspondence.
Anyone who has contact with official documents knows how important it is to press the stamp of a person signing a document in a legible and straight way. Or is this approach just an indication of the care for details and respect for the addressee and nothing else?
Perhaps it was the trace of practice and custom of the times when correspondence was art (text written in calligraphy, properly selected paper, signature and stamp became the equivalent elements of a message).
In the world of these codes and symbols, a lopsided stamp was interpreted in a straightforward way of breaking all contacts with the addressee, even if the contents of the letter did not suggest such a decisive move...

Elaborated by Editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See seals from the collection of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums:
Wax seal of the imperial and royal (C.K.) District Starost (head of district)
Stamp of the drapers’ guild
Seal of Koszyce

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Wax seal of the imperial and royal (C.K.) District Starost (head of district)

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Pieczęć lakowa C.K. Starosty Powiatu Wadowickiego [audiodeskrypcja] Tells: Fundacja na Rzecz Rozwoju Audiodeskrypcji KATARYNKA
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Pieczęć lakowa C.K. Starosty Powiatu Wadowickiego Tells: Marcin Witkowski
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