The treasures of the State Record Office. Part I

Reggio Emilia State Record Office, corso Cairoli n. 6

6 May - 30 June 2017 - Exhibitions


Monday – Friday 09:30-14:30

   Special opening times:

   Saturday 6 May 17:00-20:00

   Sunday 7 May 10:00-13:00




The rooms of the State Record Office Museum

Sigillo del Comune

The Reggio Emilia State Record Office Museum was set up as soon as the institute itself was founded.

There were many reasons for this approach. First of all, the old archive of the Municipality of Reggio also included objects such as seals, cases, Cassetta ribaltabileballot boxes and document cases. Other material from Opere Pie and professional associations was soon added, as were many seal matrices belonging to suppressed bodies and state offices. Most important of all was the series of notarial matrices, which were sent by the district notary archive in 1912.

There were plenty of acquisitions and donations too, including a donation made by Ippolito Malaguzzi Valeri in 1899 containing seal matrices belonging to private citizens, military offices and other defunct institutions. 

  Museo_2017:Mess Epif    

Over time, the layout of the museum has naturally mirrored the development of the archival institute, which has undergone several reorganisations in order to rationalise the spaces, boost capacity and improve the condition of the deposits.

Forcibly shut down for years, the State Record Office Museum has now responded with a new display that, despite the limited space, still makes it possible to showcase the most significant material in the city’s history.

Museo_2017:Bossolo dipThe objects are accompanied by a caption and, where necessary, the catalogue contains historical notes.

 The seals and coins deserve to be examined in their own right, with the best collection undoubtedly represented by the notary seals.

It is made up of 258 pieces belonging to notaries who operated between 1645 and 1859 and came from a variety of areas. The majority lived in Reggio Emilia, but there were some from Montecchio, Scandiano, Guastalla and the Bassa Reggiana, a few from the mountains and fewer still from Novellara.

You could almost say that each seal represents the notaries themselves. Those few centimetres of metal encapsulate Sigillo Caprarithe centuries of history, of legal practice, of social change – a complex journey leading to the moment in which a piece of paper is given publica fides on account of the precise manner in which it has been drawn up and the fact that the seal belongs to one notary only. If the same piece of paper was without the signum, it would be completely worthless.

The importance of the notary seal was such that, when its owner ceased to provide the professional service, the seal was voided using a file.

Without straying too far into the realm of fantasy, we can safely say that not only does the notary seal embody its owner Sigillo Malavasifrom a professional perspective, but often encapsulates their personal side too. The design of the seal was chosen by the notary themselves and thus in some way represented their personality, because from that moment forth, both professionally and therefore socially, the notary was to be known by that design.

Some chose family coats of arms, either because they were eminent or to indicate the continuation of a family profession. Others opted for complex floral designs interwoven with their initials, or explored themes alluded to by their surnames, or stuck with simple designs featuring only their initials. As a rule, the seals became more complex as time went on, with much variety and freedom of shaping, illustrations and dimensions, until this was brought to an abrupt end by the modern state. The end of the seal as a free representation of oneself came with the “Regulation on Notaries”, Napoleonic Decree No. 109 of 17 June 1806.Sigillo napoleonico

Notary seals, therefore, speak just like any other document, yet their language is different and at times somewhat cryptic. They thus require more attention and skill than usualAnd while research has already been carried out into notary seals, there is still work to do on coins and other seals. However, given the lengthy nature of this project, the decision has been taken to reopen the museum to the public with the many precious pieces already suitable for display..

Sigillo Donelli

               The rest will come…






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