When someone dies their ID card and on-line banking code-dongle are destroyed to prevent identity theft. Their signature dies with them, so that’s not a problem. In the past, people with a bit of money and influence had seal matrices filling the function of all these things. They “signed” documents by affixing wax seals to them, stamped with their unique design. And when the owner of a seal died, the matrix was generally destroyed and then molten for scrap or buried with him.
For this reason, Medieval seal matrices are rare finds, and when they do turn up they tend to be in pieces. But recently, a 15th or early-16th century matrix was found at a farmstead near Linköping in Östergötland, Sweden — in pristine shape, hardly even corroded. It’s now in the County Museum where I saw it back in the spring.
The image on the seal shows a knight in armour with a heavy sword over his shoulder and something round in front that I can’t identify. (Sorry about the crappy photograph.) So far my enquiries into who the owner of the seal may have been, and whether any documents sealed with it survive, have been unsuccessful. But we’re clearly dealing with someone in the nobility.