The personal seal of Francisk von Rafenstain

by Charles Francisk von Rafenstain

The History
It took about seven years to find the seal of Sir Francisks, among the many archives and numerous documents found in Bozen and Innsbruck. The first person who recorded a document with the seal of the knights, was Adelheid Zallinger in 1978 when she wrote her contribution about Rafenstain castle and its history in Count Oswald von Trapp’s book “Tiroler Burg Buch”. However, a relocation of various historical documents from Bolzano to Innsbruck had been carried out, and there was an error of cataloging during the transfer of the documents. The result was that Rafenstains only sealed document was “lost” in a sea of ​​several other documents of the same time.


The reconstruction was performed by Nina Rucinska a trained bronzesmith in Poland. Nina received a high definition digital image of the seal (which you can see at the bottom next to the reconstruction ) , and began a very thorough research. As the very first, Nina searched for other original seal stamps from the same period which is still preserved today. There was then selected 1 of 3 different seal stamps from the period 1370-1380 and this was reconstructed in wax at a scale of 1:1. Then Nina started to engrave the picture. It shows Rafenstains crest surrounded by laurels and around it a written ribbon with the words: S(igillum) Francisk the Rafe(nstain). If you look exactly at the coat of arms you will notice that the original has a blemish: The geometric partitioning shows a field to much at the top, not three horizontal ” bars “, but 4. We chose, of course, to transfer the same flaws to our reconstruction.

After the seal in wax was finished, Nina sent it to the bronze foundry where the final seal stamp was created. As the final step Nina had a bronze chain made, so it could hang on the belt of the knight.
To reproduce the seal, beeswax was used to form the ” bowl” of the seal. In the bowl a round disc was eroded, which were then filled with red beeswax. Between these two layers is the parchmentstrip attached. The process ends with the seal as we all know it.


In the year 2006, the medieval archaeologist Armin Torggler, succeded in mastering an advanced research in the country archive of Innsbruck, and with a great deal of luck, to find the document again. The original document was presented by my visit to Innsbruck, where I for the first time got to see and touch the document. It was an indescribable feeling, after so many years of searching, finally standing there with a piece of the knight’s life in the hand. Besides his handwriting, I had the opportunity to study the seal and decided to reconstruct this.
-Trapp Oswald: Tiroler Burg Buch Band V-Sarn Valley, (Article Zallinger Adelheid p.221-248)
Athesia Verlag 1978 re-moved 1981.
-Zaccaria Armida: Siegel und Macht, mittelaterliche Siegel aus dem Stadtarrkiv Bozen, Nicolodi Verlag 2002.
-Tiroler Lander Archive: Ukunde II 1064, 1374-V of 25.
URL: http://www.ukdfddata/showrecords.php?product=6717&sort=2&cat=44 … Quoted 12.11.2007