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Typical Types of Russian Flax and Hemp Bale Seals



     The purpose of this page.  The following should give you an idea of a typical Archangel seal however do not be fooled into thinking that you can identify them properly. If you have a seal the best way to get a proper identification is to post pictures, front and back, and where found, onto the PeaceHavens Project website at

    Ged Dodd is the foremost authority on these seals and will identify them correctly. He has identified over 7,500 different seals in the last few years. Please appreciate he has lots of enquiries and you may be in  a queue. But you will get the best identification possible.



Archangel (Arkhangelsk)



     Arkhangelsk was Russia's first northern seaport and between 1668 and 1684 a large fortified trading centre, the Gostiny Dvor, was constructed on its riverbank.  The winter weather gave a very short time slot for trading as the port iced over and many ships were lost or abandoned to the crushing ice.

  The founding of St Petersburg in 1702 in the warmer waters of the Baltic,  along with the ports Konigsberg, Kronstadt, Libnau, Memel, Narva, Pernau, Reval, Riga, Tilsit, Windau and others pushed Arkhangelsk out of the limelight. Archangel used flax from Kama, Kostrogna, Tot'ma, Ustyug, Vologda, Vyatka, Yaroslavl where it was usually dew-retted in the fields. Archangel had a reputation for honest bracking whereas the Baltic Ports standards were not as good .. so the English merchants still preferred to buy Archangel flax whenever possible.


  For two centuries after the foundation of St Petersburg in 1703, the British merchant community  exercised a remarkable influence over the city's economic relations with the wider world.  This community operated as a 'City of London' in miniature, and where the merchants led others, diplomats, travellers, soldiers, sailors, engineers, craftsmen and others followed.   To the English in the sixteenth century the idea of a northern route to the Indies had a particular appeal, and in 1553, in search of such a passage, the Edward Bonaventure cast anchor off the southern shore of the White Sea. For England, this venture established a thriving trade with Russia through Archangel; for Russia, it offered the prospect of secure and direct commercial links with Western Europe. The ship's return to England heralded the formation in London of the Muscovy Company, which sent annual cargoes of cloth, silks, tropical and Mediterranean goods in return for pelts, wax, tar and pitch. Finding it more economical to export Russian hemp in a processed form, English merchants set up a rope works near Archangel. It soon enjoyed a high reputation.

Archangel Harbour in the late 18th and early 19th Century

  Facts about Archangel Seals found in the UK.

    Prior to the formation of the PeaceHavens Project a solitary flax seal dated 1813 was the earliest known date from Archangel found in the UK ... the rest being from the mid 1820's to the late 1890's.   Starting in 2013 with a discovery at Bentham Mills of the PeaceHavens Hoard by Ged Dodd, our Project Director, the Project Members Metal Detecting Team subsequently uncovered over 1,400 flax/hemp seals surpassing the total of known seals in Dr John Sullivan's Book ... with a total today on the Project Database of well over 7,500 seals . The Archangel seals found at Bentham Mill were mostly dated in the mid 1820's confirming his findings .... but 2 seals were dated 1810 & 1811 which was surprising as the mills were not in full operation with flax until the mid 1820's ... and then ...    Moving on to the Mills of the Washburn Valley our Director found many more seals at the Aked High Mill, Little Patrick Mill and West House Mill  .. and with the help of the Project Members Metal Detecting Team well over another 1500 more flax/hemp seals were subsequently uncovered there ... with several early Archangel seals dated from 1806 .. along with some more seals being from the mid 1820's onwards. The Crimean War of 1853/56 extended into the Baltic & White Seas & seals from this period are few.

          Types of Archangel Seals found in the UK


 After wet-retting in the fields the flax was bracked into two kinds ..


1) SELECT   (OTБOPHЬII - OTBORNOY) which is soft, silk-like flax.
...  Subdivided into 3 grades

    1"COPTЪ (1st SORT) First grade
    2"COPTЪ (2nd SORT) Second grade
    3"COPTЪ (3rd SORT) Third grade


2) CROWN  (KPONЪ - KRON) which is long fiber, high quality flax.

..  Subdivided into 4 grades

    1"COPTЪ (1st SORT) First grade
    2"COPTЪ (2nd SORT) Second grade
    3"COPTЪ (3rd SORT) Third grade
    4"COPTЪ (4th SORT) Fourth grade



  However the majority of seals were referred to as




  which were all abreviations for ...

  ЛЬНЯНОЕ БPAKOBЩIK  flax which has passed inspection.

  or APX. БP  (ARCH.BR)  passed inspection at Archangel.

  ..  all subdivided into 3 grades

    1"COPTЪ (1st SORT) First grade
    2"COPTЪ (2nd SORT) Second grade
    3"COPTЪ (3rd SORT) Third grade



Lesser quality kinds of flax and hemp from Archangel are ...


      (KУДEЛЬ, KУДѣЛЯ KУДѣЛЬЯ,KУДEЛЬH) (also called Tow)
     is the coarse broken part of flax or hemp after the heckling.

..  Subdivided into 4 grades

    1"COPTЪ (1st SORT) First grade
    2"COPTЪ (2nd SORT) Second grade
    3"COPTЪ (3rd SORT) Third grade


     (known as Cheska) is a low grade heckled flax or hemp.

..  Subdivided into 3 grades
    1"COPTЪ (1st SORT) First grade
    2"COPTЪ (2nd SORT) Second grade
    3"COPTЪ (3rd SORT) Third grade


     (known as Paklya or Scutching Tow) is broken fibres from

      the Scutching and Heckling process and is used for Tow yarns.

..  Subdivided into 3 grades
    1"COPTЪ (1st SORT) First grade
    2"COPTЪ (2nd SORT) Second grade
    3"COPTЪ (3rd SORT) Third grade


     is the lowest grade of flax or hemp

..  Subdivided into 2 grades
    1"COPTЪ (1st SORT) First grade
    2"COPTЪ (2nd SORT) Second grade


   Russian State Arms Custom Seals for Archangel



H 1


Russian State Arms Customs


  TP (agent) HI = post 1     ARXAN = Archangel .

  T = Customs . OT = Department . T = Goods     1862

  TAMOЖHЯ. = Customs .. OTPACЛЬ = Department .. TOBAP = Goods  IDS 725


 Deciphering Archangel Seals ..  example




= ARCH. BRA  Archangel bracked (Quality Inspected).

= DESYAT  Inspector, Quality Control Officer.

= ANDREW   The name of the inspector.



Я. K.



= ARCH. PORT  Archangel Port.

= KUDEL (TOW) Coarse broken hemp after Heckling.

= 1st SORT  The first sorting of the kudel.

= Ya.K.  Initials of the previous Grower/Owner/Agent

= Graded in 1867.


 Notes:- variations are numerous


   The Obverse (Front)

 APX. БPA = Archangel Brack . variations are APX. БP,  APX. БPAK,  APX. БPAKЬ.

 A bracker was a BRAKOVSHCHIK and БPAKOBЩИK was to Pass Inspection

 ДECЯT was a Quality Control Officer selected by the
 brackers themselves who worked under their direct supervision to carry out the inspection and certify on their behalf the bundle to which the seal was fastened.  The variations are  ДЕС, ДЕСЯCK, ДЕСЯТ,  ДЕСЯТC, ДЕСЯТCK, ДЕСЯТH, ДЕСЯТHИKЪ, ДЕСЯТЬHИKЪ,

 Names with Ц  like ДЕСЯЦK,  ДЕСЯЦKO, ДЕСЯЦKOИ are Tsolnery or higher ranking Customs Officers.       We have many hundreds of different inspector names.

  - - - - - - - - -

    The Reverse (Back)

 APX. ПOP = Archangel Port .. variations are A.П (A.P).


  KУДѣЛЯ = KUDEL is the coarse broken part of hemp or flax after the Heckling and Scutching processes. .. variations are KУДEЛЬ & KУДѣЛЬЯ (hemp) KУДEЛЬH (flax)

     This could also be ПAKЛЯ = PAKLYA (Scutching Tow), CODILLA (Broken flax from the first heckling), ЧESKA (CHESKA = lowest grade heckled flax), or ПAKЛЯ ЧECKA (Heckled Codilla) or ZABR, ZABRACK, (ЗAБP, ЗAБPAKЪ) lowest quality, usually hemp.

 1"COPTЪ = 1st SORT (grading) ..could be 2nd, 3rd or even 4th Sort.

 Я. K. = Ya K.   Initials of the previous Grower/Owner/Agent (of which we have hundreds).

 1863 = the date of the grading for this particular seal.              



  Link to ALL OTHER Archangel Seals from the UK


  Link to BENTHAM MILL Collection of Archangel Seals

  Link to WEST HOUSE MILL Collection of Archangel Seals


  Link to FOLLY GHYLL MILL Collection of Archangel Seals