NEWS Section

    History of Seals

    The origin of seals dates back at least the days of Pharaohs and Kings when official seals were carved in stone, metals or wood. The “seal” was pressed into melted wax, used to close letters and documents while in transit by messengers. The impression of the seal in wax, if disturbed, or replaced with forgery, would indicate to the receiver that the document had been opened or tampered. It could also be applied to seams of boxes or other items. The job of inspecting these seals often fell to a scribe or servant who knew the seal intimately and could visually detect tampering or forgery. (The modern security seals serve essentially the same purpose.)

    In late 19th and early 20th century Railways, Utilities and Banks needed devices to detect pilfering of their assets being transported, or metered for delivery. Several companies introduced various mechanical seals to secure Rail Wagons, Meters and Bank or Postal/Courier bags.

    Originally there were only a few seal types (mainly made of LEAD or tinplate steel), with some variations, though in the last century uses and number of seal types has proliferated into the hundreds. Growth in trucking and over-the-road delivery spawned many more seals and seal uses. Expansion and modernization of utility distribution and metering also brought more seal types and broader use. Meanwhile, growing rail transit, shipping and ocean containers caused development of an entire new seal category of very heavy bolt and cable devices. Now plastic, heavy metal, cable and wire are used to make mechanical seals ranging from simple and small lightweight clips and tags, to large iron and steel devices serving as one-time locks to detect unauthorized opening.

    Recent developments include advanced electronic devices with multiple monitoring functions, remote reading, tracking and more. There are also adhesive labels and tapes, holographic images, thermal activated inks, and high-tech printed adhesives that leave an impression and/or destroy a printed pattern if the tape is removed.