Can Anyone Identify This Document?

relicsguy

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It's a little hard to read. It appears to be some sort of a contract for farm land published in 1828 in Pennsylvania. Is this a deed? What is it called? Are any of the sames in this document known or familiar? Any information would help. Thanks in advance.
 

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UnderMiner

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It says on the back "Article of Agreement". Sounds like Philip is a sharecropper renting some land from John in exchange for 1/3 of the grain he harvested each year on the borrowed fields. Philip also agrees to thrash the grain in John's barn at his own expense. Note the words "yearly rent". It also appears Philip had to pay John $50 for the privilege of doing this.

This isn't a deed but an agreement between a tenant farmer (sharecropper) and a land owner. I like the little seals they made with ink instead of wax, how unusual. This is basically a crude contract meant to cover these two people legally in court should either of them try to renege on the agreement.

I also notice some words that seem to say "horse and africans" in two places in this agreement. "Let onto the said Philip Bishel his horse and africans two fields situated in the township aforesaid..." Maybe Philip owned slaves (strange as slavery was illegal in PA since 1780, maybe he was breaking the law, found a loophole, or maybe they were free working for a wage, but it's still strange as the sentence makes it sound like they are property akin to the horse).
 
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relicsguy

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It says on the back "Article of Agreement". Sounds like Philip is a sharecropper renting some land from John in exchange for 1/3 of the grain he harvested each year on the borrowed fields. Philip also agrees to thrash the grain in John's barn at his own expense. Note the words "yearly rent". It also appears Philip had to pay John $50 for the privilege of doing this.

This isn't a deed but an agreement between a tenant farmer (sharecropper) and a land owner. I like the little seals they made with ink instead of wax, how unusual. This is basically a crude contract meant to cover these two people legally in court should either of them try to renege on the agreement.

I also notice some words that seem to say "horse and africans" in two places in this agreement. "Let onto the said Philip Bishel his horse and africans two fields situated in the township aforesaid..." Maybe Philip owned slaves (strange as slavery was illegal in PA since 1780, maybe he was breaking the law, found a loophole, or maybe they were free working for a wage, but it's still strange as the sentence makes it sound like they are property akin to the horse).
Thanks for reading it through and your analysis. Are these just ordinary citizens? Do any of these names seem familiar?
It says on the back "Article of Agreement". Sounds like Philip is a sharecropper renting some land from John in exchange for 1/3 of the grain he harvested each year on the borrowed fields. Philip also agrees to thrash the grain in John's barn at his own expense. Note the words "yearly rent". It also appears Philip had to pay John $50 for the privilege of doing this.

This isn't a deed but an agreement between a tenant farmer (sharecropper) and a land owner. I like the little seals they made with ink instead of wax, how unusual. This is basically a crude contract meant to cover these two people legally in court should either of them try to renege on the agreement.

I also notice some words that seem to say "horse and africans" in two places in this agreement. "Let onto the said Philip Bishel his horse and africans two fields situated in the township aforesaid..." Maybe Philip owned slaves (strange as slavery was illegal in PA since 1780, maybe he was breaking the law, found a loophole, or maybe they were free working for a wage, but it's still strange as the sentence makes it sound like they are property akin to the horse).

It says on the back "Article of Agreement". Sounds like Philip is a sharecropper renting some land from John in exchange for 1/3 of the grain he harvested each year on the borrowed fields. Philip also agrees to thrash the grain in John's barn at his own expense. Note the words "yearly rent". It also appears Philip had to pay John $50 for the privilege of doing this.

This isn't a deed but an agreement between a tenant farmer (sharecropper) and a land owner. I like the little seals they made with ink instead of wax, how unusual. This is basically a crude contract meant to cover these two people legally in court should either of them try to renege on the agreement.

I also notice some words that seem to say "horse and africans" in two places in this agreement. "Let onto the said Philip Bishel his horse and africans two fields situated in the township aforesaid..." Maybe Philip owned slaves (strange as slavery was illegal in PA since 1780, maybe he was breaking the law, found a loophole, or maybe they were free working for a wage, but it's still strange as the sentence makes it sound like they are property akin to the horse).
That is very interesting. Slavery didn't end in PA until 1847. The 1780 abolition act only gradually but didn't immediately end slavery. It's possible they were slaves.
 

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Thanks for reading it through and your analysis. Are these just ordinary citizens? Do any of these names seem familiar?



That is very interesting. Slavery didn't end in PA until 1847. The 1780 abolition act only gradually but didn't immediately end slavery. It's possible they were slaves.
I regrettably am not too familiar with PA's historic population. I'm sure someone knows who these people are though. My suggestion is to travel to or contact someone curently residing in the location stipulated in the document - Lamar, PA. This town is tiny, only 500 people live there right now. The document indicates that Lamar is in Centre County (founded in 1800), however this was in 1828. In 1839 Clinton County was formed and took over some land from Centre, Lamar was part of this acquisition. So Lamar, Clinton County, PA is where you have to look.
 
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relicsguy

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I regrettably am not too familiar with PA's historic population. I'm sure someone knows who these people are though. My suggestion is to travel to or contact someone curently residing in the location stipulated in the document - Lamar, PA. This town is tiny, only 500 people live there right now. The document indicates that Lamar is in Centre County (founded in 1800), however this was in 1828. In 1839 Clinton County was formed and took over some land from Centre, Lamar was part of this acquisition. So Lamar, Clinton County, PA is where you have to look.
Are these sharecropper agreements considered collectible? I can't find much information on them.
 

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Are these sharecropper agreements considered collectible? I can't find much information on them.
I have no reason to doubt your document is authentic. But you did not state how you obtained it.

Please be aware there are a lot of fakes out there now or there have been, especially on euphemia.. Your document does not appear to contain anything that would warrant making a fake but you never know. Some years back a friend of mine purchased a fake slave document. Those seem to be popular to fake, or at least they were.
Did you examine it with a black light? That is not 100% guarantee but a simple way to test old euphemia and other antique objects.

Thanks for sharing your document. I like those agreements.
 

traveller777

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I have no reason to doubt your document is authentic. But you did not state how you obtained it.

Please be aware there are a lot of fakes out there now or there have been, especially on euphemia.. Your document does not appear to contain anything that would warrant making a fake but you never know. Some years back a friend of mine purchased a fake slave document. Those seem to be popular to fake, or at least they were.
Did you examine it with a black light? That is not 100% guarantee but a simple way to test old euphemia and other antique objects.

Thanks for sharing your document.
Here is an article on using a black light.

 

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Welcome to Tnet.

What an interesting document. I see nothing to suggest it’s anything other than authentic. Here’s a little information that might help you in researching it.

According to the “History of Centre and Clinton Counties”, written by John Blair Linn and published in 1883, the “Lower Bald Eagle” township of 1801 divided in 1817. Part of it changed its name to “Spring”, and the part of it between the Muncy and Nittany Mountains was then erected as a new township called “Lamar”, named in honour of Maj. Marion Lamar, of the Fourth Pennsylvania Line (he was killed at the Battle of Paoli during the American Revolutionary War). When Clinton County was organised in 1839, it embraced the Lamar township plus a number of others that had previously been part of Centre County.

The number of Lamar residents in 1817 was sufficiently small that the men are listed individually by name: 135 of them plus a business in joint names, and 27 “single freemen”. In the 1st June 1830 census, at which time Lamar was still in Centre County, the population was recorded as “1567 Whites and 15 Colored” [sic].

Your document appears to have been written by a notary or someone of authority who was perhaps more literate than the two men entering into the agreement and the bottom signatures may or may not be in the hand of those men. As such, it suffers from the usual problems of unreliable name spellings (as well as the difficulty of reading old fancy handwriting). Imagine the difficulty in getting someone else to write your surname if you, yourself, are illiterate and can’t spell. All they have to go on is the way you pronounce it, and you have no way to verify it’s written correctly if you can’t read. Worse still if you have a foreign surname.

I read the names at the bottom as “John Heglich” and “Philip Rishal” but in the body text the surnames appear to be written as “Haighleg” and “Rishel”. These kinds of inconsistencies are not at all unusual. From the 1817 list of resident males in Lamar, there is a “Philiip Rishel”, but no matches to the other surname, however you spell it. In some cases, occupations are given in that list, but unfortunately not for Philip Rishel and no other details. Alongside him there are also listings for Adam Rishel, John Rishel and William Rishel (again, no other details), but I would presume they are family members.

You might try to track down the census of 1830 I referred to above, if documentation has survived.

Good luck researching it further.
 
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Welcome to Tnet.

What an interesting document. I see nothing to suggest it’s anything other than authentic. Here’s a little information that might help you in researching it.

According to the “History of Centre and Clinton Counties”, written by John Blair Linn and published in 1883, the “Lower Bald Eagle” township of 1801 divided in 1817. Part of it changed its name to “Spring”, and the part of it between the Muncy and Nittany Mountains was then erected as a new township called “Lamar”, named in honour of Maj. Marion Lamar, of the Fourth Pennsylvania Line (he was killed at the Battle of Paoli during the American Revolutionary War). When Clinton County was organised in 1839, it embraced the Lamar township plus a number of others that had previously been part of Centre County.

The number of Lamar residents in 1817 was sufficiently small that the men are listed individually by name: 135 of them plus a business in joint names, and 27 “single freemen”. In the 1st June 1830 census, at which time Lamar was still in Centre County, the population was recorded as “1567 Whites and 15 Colored” [sic].

Your document appears to have written by a notary or someone of authority who was perhaps more literate than the two men entering into the agreement and the bottom signatures may or may not be in the hand of those men. As such, it suffers from the usual problems of unreliable name spellings (as well as the difficulty of reading old fancy handwriting). Imagine the difficulty in getting someone else to write your surname if you, yourself, are illiterate and can’t spell. All they have to go on is the way you pronounce it, and you have no way to verify it’s written correctly if you can’t read. Worse still if you have a foreign surname.

I read the names at the bottom as “John Heglich” and “Philip Rishal” but in the body text the surnames appear to be written as “Haighleg” and “Rishel”. These kinds of inconsistencies are not at all unusual. From the 1817 list of resident males in Lamar, there is a “Philiip Rishel”, but no matches to the other surname, however you spell it. In some cases, occupations are given in that list, but unfortunately not for Philip Rishel and no other details. Alongside him there are also listings for Adam Rishel, John Rishel and William Rishel (again, no other details), but I would presume they are family members.

You might try to track down the census of 1830 I referred to above, if documentation has survived.

Good luck researching it further.
I agree. There is no reason to doubt this document's authenticity. It is not uncommon to find these types of documents preserved in books and other long-lived paper articles. I have found several from this same time period simply by looking in the right places. The fact that the document uses the correct county for the placement of the town for that time period is something a forger would have easily overlooked.
 

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This may be one of your guys.

Rishel.jpg
Picture by Kate McFate on ‘findagrave’.

Philip Rishel: born to Adam and Elizabeth Rishel on 10th September 1792; died 4th December 1862; buried in Mount Bethel United Church of Christ Cemetery in Lamar, PA. His wife Catherine is buried there too (died 10th January 1858). There’s also a Philip F Rishel in the same cemetery, born 9th November 1857 and died as a baby on 13th March 1858. Grandson perhaps?

It just occurred to me that the other guy might be John Haighley, or some spelling variant of that surname. I played around a bit with that possibility, but drew a blank. You might have more luck with a bit of persistence.
 
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relicsguy

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This may be one of your guys.

View attachment 2015704
Picture by Kate McFate on ‘findagrave’.

Philip Rishel: born to Adam and Elizabeth Rishel on 10th September 1792; died 4th December 1862; buried in Mount Bethel United Church of Christ Cemetery in Lamar, PA. His wife Catherine is buried there too (died 10th January 1858). There’s also a Philip F Rishel in the same cemetery, born 9th November 1857 and died as a baby on 13th March 1858. Grandson perhaps?

It just occurred to me that the other guy might be John Haighley, or some spelling variant of that surname. I played around a bit with that possibility, but drew a blank. You might have more luck with a bit of persistence.
Thanks for the work to research this. Are these agreements considered collectable? If these "Africans" mentioned in the document were slaves wouldn't they just be called slaves? How were slaves referred to back in 1828?
 
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Red-Coat

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You're welcome.

Philip Rishel may well have had “Africans” working for him, but they’re unlikely to have been slaves at the time this document was agreed.

By 1820, more than 99% of the black population of Pennsylvania were “free” men. There were only 211 slaves in a black population of over 30,000. By 1840 the number had dropped to 64, and by 1850 all of Pennsylvania’s slaves were “free”. Freed slaves had the option to offer themselves on the labour market if they hadn’t already acquired a piece of land to work for themselves or established themselves in some kind of trade. General labour shortages were progressively addressed mainly by agreements for “indentured servitude”, referred to by various names under a variety of schemes. The term “slave” wasn’t used for indentured servants and fell out of use as the actual number of slaves dropped. Although indentured servitude involved various constraints upon freedom, it also conferred certain rights and benefits and did not give “masters” unlimited authority over their servants.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery_in_Pennsylvania

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servitude_in_Pennsylvania

Yes, these kinds of documents can have collector interest although, from a tiny township and signed by “ordinary folk”, the scope of appeal is likely to be pretty limited. Collector interest is not the same thing as monetary value though. The monetary value is likely to be small and that would be the case for most such documents unless they relate to very prominent individuals or pivotal historical events.

If it were mine, I would see if there is a small provincial museum in the vicinity of Lamar who might like to have it, in return for a “kindly donated by…” notice if they put it on display.
 
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relicsguy

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You're welcome.

Philip Rishel may well have had “Africans” working for him, but they’re unlikely to have been slaves at the time this document was agreed.

By 1820, more than 99% of the black population of Pennsylvania were “free” men. There were only 211 slaves in a black population of over 30,000. By 1840 the number had dropped to 64, and by 1850 all of Pennsylvania’s slaves were “free”. Freed slaves had the option to offer themselves on the labour market if they hadn’t already acquired a piece of land to work for themselves or established themselves in some kind of trade. General labour shortages were progressively addressed mainly by agreements for “indentured servitude”, referred to by various names under a variety of schemes. The term “slave” wasn’t used for indentured servants and fell out of use as the actual number of slaves dropped. Although indentured servitude involved various constraints upon freedom, it also conferred certain rights and benefits and did not give “masters” unlimited authority over their servants.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery_in_Pennsylvania

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servitude_in_Pennsylvania

Yes, these kinds of documents can have collector interest although, from a tiny township and signed by “ordinary folk”, the scope of appeal is likely to be pretty limited. Collector interest is not the same thing as monetary value though. The monetary value is likely to be small and that would be the case for most such documents unless they relate to very prominent individuals or pivotal historical events.

If it were mine, I would see if there is a small provincial museum in the vicinity of Lamar who might like to have it, in return for a “kindly donated by…” notice if they put it on display.
Slave owners were also wealthy. Slaves were expensive. This farmer was a sharecropper. If he was wealthy wouldn't he own his own farmland? It mentions in the document "Africans" plural. How would he afford to own his own slaves?
 

Red-Coat

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Slave owners were also wealthy. Slaves were expensive. This farmer was a sharecropper. If he was wealthy wouldn't he own his own farmland? It mentions in the document "Africans" plural. How would he afford to own his own slaves?

I think you've misunderstood my reply!

I did not say that this guy owned any slaves. I actually said the opposite... that if he had Africans in his employment they were unlikely to be slaves in this time period. Look again at the very small numbers I gave for the slave population in the whole of Pennsylvania. I also said that former slaves who had become "freed-men" (the vast majority of Africans in the State) had the option to become part of the labour pool available to anyone who needed workers. They were usually low-cost unskilled manual workers, sometimes casually or seasonally employed, and sometimes on a longer term contract via an indenture agreement.
 

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Slave owners were also wealthy. Slaves were expensive. This farmer was a sharecropper. If he was wealthy wouldn't he own his own farmland? It mentions in the document "Africans" plural. How would he afford to own his own slaves?
Like he said they probably weren't slaves, but free men working as his employees. The person who wrote the document referred to them as "africans", not as slaves. "Philip Rishel his horse and africans..." This sentence can be interpreted as meaning the Africans are his employees because in the context of the document we know that Philip is not a landowner but a renter and a renter would not be able to afford slaves - but he would potentially have the funds to pay free men.
 
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relicsguy

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It says on the back "Article of Agreement". Sounds like Philip is a sharecropper renting some land from John in exchange for 1/3 of the grain he harvested each year on the borrowed fields. Philip also agrees to thrash the grain in John's barn at his own expense. Note the words "yearly rent". It also appears Philip had to pay John $50 for the privilege of doing this.

This isn't a deed but an agreement between a tenant farmer (sharecropper) and a land owner. I like the little seals they made with ink instead of wax, how unusual. This is basically a crude contract meant to cover these two people legally in court should either of them try to renege on the agreement.

I also notice some words that seem to say "horse and africans" in two places in this agreement. "Let onto the said Philip Bishel his horse and africans two fields situated in the township aforesaid..." Maybe Philip owned slaves (strange as slavery was illegal in PA since 1780, maybe he was breaking the law, found a loophole, or maybe they were free working for a wage, but it's still strange as the sentence makes it sound like they are property akin to the horse).
I was told by someone that it actually reads "heirs and assigns" not horses and Africans. Heirs and assigns would refer to the crop output and money received in case of his passing during the term of the agreement.
 
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relicsguy

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I think you've misunderstood my reply!

I did not say that this guy owned any slaves. I actually said the opposite... that if he had Africans in his employment they were unlikely to be slaves in this time period. Look again at the very small numbers I gave for the slave population in the whole of Pennsylvania. I also said that former slaves who had become "freed-men" (the vast majority of Africans in the State) had the option to become part of the labour pool available to anyone who needed workers. They were usually low-cost unskilled manual workers, sometimes casually or seasonally employed, and sometimes on a longer term contract via an indenture agreement.
No not at all. My intention was to emphasize the possibility that they were not slaves. We are in agreement. But from what I just was told, it's actually written "heirs and assigns" not horses and Africans. This would mean that in case of his passing during the term of the agreement, his yield and money would be given to his heirs.
 

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Yes… sorry, we got some crossed wires there. I’ve looked at the document in more detail and I agree there’s no mention of Africans or horses. My reading is as follows, complete with the numerous spelling errors and the names as I see them

>>>>>
Agreed the twentyfirst of July eighteen hundred and twenty eight between John G? Haighley of the township of Lamarr and the County of Centre and State of Pennsylvania of the onepart and Philip Rishel [the words "farmer in the name" crossed out] of the same place of the other part as follows the said John G? Heaghley doth let unto the said Philip Rishel [the word “farmer” crossed out] his heirs and assigns two feilds situated in the township aforesaid and now occupied by the said Haighley it being a part of his farm for the term of one year from [blank space for commencement date to be inserted] for the yearly rent of one third of all the grain raised on the said fields of said farm to be paid to the said Heighley in the bushel and to be left at any mill in the neighbourhood which he shall direct [uncertain word, perhaps “and”?] is understood that the grain is to be threshed in said Heighleys barn and the straw to remain in the same the manure is also to be hallowed on the said feilds to be farmed in good favourable manner all of the above work to be done at the expense of the said Rishel and for the [uncertain word, perhaps “true”?] performance of all and singular the covenants and agreements aforesaid each of the parties bindeth himself his heirs and assigns in the persnal sum of fifty dollars firmly by there presents in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the day of X year above mentioned

John G? Heglich [SEAL]

Philip Rishal [SEAL]
<<<<<


The reference to Rishel’s “heirs and assigns” simply means that if he dies while the agreement is still in force, his heirs inherit the same rights (and debt) and that both he and his heirs have the ability to assign the rights to third parties or employees rather than actually do the work themselves. The same applies to Haighley with respect to the permissions being given and obligations undertaken since there is a later reference to the heirs and assigns of “each of the parties”.

The document appears to have been drafted, but never agreed. The commencement date is missing (there’s a blank space for it to be written in) and I think the two names at the bottom are not signatures, but simply the written names of the two parties with space for them to add their actual signatures below. The two drawn shapes including the word “seal” are to indicate where seals would have been applied, if/when the terms had actually been agreed.
 
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relicsguy

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Yes… sorry, we got some crossed wires there. I’ve looked at the document in more detail and I agree there’s no mention of Africans or horses. My reading is as follows, complete with the numerous spelling errors and the names as I see them

>>>>>
Agreed the twentyfirst of July eighteen hundred and twenty eight between John G? Haighley of the township of Lamarr and the County of Centre and State of Pennsylvania of the onepart and Philip Rishel [the words "farmer in the name" crossed out] of the same place of the other part as follows the said John G? Heaghley doth let unto the said Philip Rishel [the word “farmer” crossed out] his heirs and assigns two feilds situated in the township aforesaid and now occupied by the said Haighley it being a part of his farm for the term of one year from [blank space for commencement date to be inserted] for the yearly rent of one third of all the grain raised on the said fields of said farm to be paid to the said Heighley in the bushel and to be left at any mill in the neighbourhood which he shall direct [uncertain word, perhaps “and”?] is understood that the grain is to be threshed in said Heighleys barn and the straw to remain in the same the manure is also to be hallowed on the said feilds to be farmed in good favourable manner all of the above work to be done at the expense of the said Rishel and for the [uncertain word, perhaps “true”?] performance of all and singular the covenants and agreements aforesaid each of the parties bindeth himself his heirs and assigns in the persnal sum of fifty dollars firmly by there presents in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals the day of X year above mentioned

John G? Heglich [SEAL]

Philip Rishal [SEAL]
<<<<<


The reference to Rishel’s “heirs and assigns” simply means that if he dies while the agreement is still in force, his heirs inherit the same rights (and debt) and that both he and his heirs have the ability to assign the rights to third parties or employees rather than actually do the work themselves. The same applies to Haighley with respect to the permissions being given and obligations undertaken since there is a later reference to the heirs and assigns of “each of the parties”.

The document appears to have been drafted, but never agreed. The commencement date is missing (there’s a blank space for it to be written in) and I think the two names at the bottom are not signatures, but simply the written names of the two parties with space for them to add their actual signatures below. The two drawn shapes including the word “seal” are to indicate where seals would have been applied, if/when the terms had actually been agreed.
As the first commentator above mentioned which I agree, hand drawn seals look unusual. I have never seen anything like that before. Would you say that was common and or something you have seen before?
 

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As the first commentator above mentioned which I agree, hand drawn seals look unusual. I have never seen anything like that before. Would you say that was common and or something you have seen before?

No, not something I've seen before but, as I said, I don't think think those are hand-drawn seals. Whoever drafted the document is just indicating where wax seals should be applied to authorise it. A bit like the "sign here" indication often seen on proforma agreements.

The document doesn't have a commencement date in the space left for it and, although it has the names of the two parties at the bottom, it isn't yet signed. So, an agreement which has been drafted but not yet authorised.
 

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