The Stenzel Family’s Compelling Collection

15 June – 12 September 2021

Curator of the exhibition: Artur Hryniewicz

In 1913, the Silesian Museum of Art Industry and Antiquities purchased from Augusta Stenzel, a Wroclaw resident, two early modern parchment documents and 62 medieval and early modern pendent wax seals that were cut off in the 19th century from the documents they certified. This collection was particularly extraordinary, as it contained only original artifacts, while almost every 19th century sigillography collection was based mainly on plaster casts.

What is more, the rank of many pieces was extremely exceptional, as they included unique imperial, royal, ducal, ecclesiastical, and chivalry seals, as well as municipal seals of the Holy Roman Empire. All dated from the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 17th century.

Provenance of the collection is a great mystery. Augusta Stenzel was married to a biologist, Karol Gustaw Stenzel (1826–1905) who was the eldest son of professor Gustaw Adolf Harold Stenzel (1792–1854) – historian and long term director of the Archives of the Silesian Province in Wroclaw. It is plausible that this incredibly interesting collection was compiled by professor Stenzel for his son and after he died, Augusta Stenzel decided to sell them for 200 German marks.