Stamps have been used for millennia, across all cultures and civilisations. Generally stamps served a purpose, to mark and label products and were used by all sectors of society. The Byzantine period was no different and stamps were used by private individuals, as a sign of ownership, for religious purposes and for organising. Most stamps used for liturgical purposes are composed of the letters IC XC NI KA (Jesus Christ Conquers), arranged within the quadrants of a cross. Stamps with phrases such as ZWH (Life) and UYIA (Health) were known as ‘eulogia’, or blessings and could still be used in church ceremony. The bread would be offered to those not yet baptised or as ‘antideron’ bread, which appears after communion. Other stamps that have survived include private names, however it is harder to distinguish their purpose, unless they also include a profession.
Rare Byzantine Bronze Stamp
A rare example of a Byzantine cast bronze stamp featuring a monogram inscription in reverse . The stamp features a crucifix shape and bears an inscription in Greek letters, written in two intersecting lines. The inscription itself is hard to distinguish, most often they are written in short-hand script, due to lack of space. It is most likely a benefaction to Jesus Christ, from an individual. The following letters can be made out: ΠΕΤ ΡΧ ΥΔ, Πέτρος Δοΰλος Χριστοΰ, which translates as Peter, servant of God. There is a large rectangular applied handle to the reverse, used to hold the stamp as it wash pushed into bread.
Condition: Extremely fine, complete and intact.