Dutch Customs Seals – Catalog

Research Dutch customs seals

Dutch Customs seals are regularly found in the Netherlands and the UK. This research is about the seals that were used at the end of the 18th century until about 1940. Customs seals are seals used to seal goods for import, export and/or transit. At the time this was called plumbing, a reference to “plumbum”, the Latin name for lead.

As early as the 14th century, there was a Convoys & Licenses service in the Northern Netherlands that used a form of sealing. At that time, customs was primarily a maritime matter. Later, from the 16th century, the same service was arranged by the independent provinces (admiralties) within the Republic of the Seven Netherlands. The proceeds mainly benefited the navy. This came to an end in 1795 by the French coup d’état. From that moment on, the proceeds benefit the state. However, many services continued under the same name for the time being, including Convoys and Licenten.

Tax seal of Convoyen and Licenten with generality lion that will later be included in the coat of arms of the Netherlands (before 1795).In 1812, the French tax system temporarily applies to both the Netherlands and Belgium. Between 1813 and 1815, the present-day Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg separate from France. Together, the Netherlands and Belgium formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, ruled by King William I. The Netherlands and Belgium share a common customs and excise duty until 1830 when Belgium became independent.

DOUANE

In 1809, Louis Napoleon placed the Service of Convoys and Licenses under an independent Director-General of Customs. It is then for the first time that the term “doaune” appears. Douane is the Dutch word for customs.

The Departments of General Administration during the period 1798-1907In 1819, the In and Outgoing Duty and Excise service (“in en uitgaande regten”) replaced the Convoys & Licenses service. In 1877, this service changes its name to “Division of direct taxes, import duties and excise duties” because then the last export duty is abolished. In the register of actors of the national archive you can find all (former) services and ministries from 1795 quite easily. Two examples of this are Convooien en Licenten and In en uitgaande rechten.

Customs seals without national coat of arms

From 1795 onwards, “douane” are therefore centrally regulated by the state. They are working towards a new uniform way of registering incoming, outgoing and/or transit goods. From that moment on, goods are sealed with more uniform seals (plombe) with state identification marks. In the Netherlands this is initially the Generality lion and later from about 1815 the new national coat of arms.

During this research, several different customs seals have emerged that do not have a national coat of arms, but were used in the Netherlands and/or Belgium.

Because the borders of the Northern and Southern Netherlands sometimes shifted during this period and because the Netherlands and Belgium merged from 1815 to 1830 in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, it is interesting to map out both countries with regard to the issue of customs seals.

The Netherlands or the Northern Netherlands, the area that until 1795 falls roughly under the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands has to deal with different regimes:

Batavian Republic (1795-1806) – Kingdom of Holland (1806-1810) – Batavian Commonwealth (1801-1806) – First French Empire (1810-1813) – Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands (21 November 1813 – 16 March 1815) – Government General for parts of Limburg (1814-1815 )

Belgium or the Southern Netherlands, the area that was roughly the Austrian Netherlands until 1794, also has to deal with different regimes:

First French Republic (1794-1804) – First French Empire (1804-1813) – Government General (1814-1815)

After this, in the period 1815-1830, both the Netherlands and Belgium fall, so to speak, under the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (Kingdom of the Netherlands and Royaume des Belgiques)

Type BUREAU-AMSTERDAM

Date: First French Empire covering the Netherlands and Belgium (1810-1813)

Because in 1810 the French emperor Napoleon is dissatisfied with the control and the proceeds, 20,000 French customs officers take over the work of the Dutch officials; all colonial goods are then suddenly taxed with a levy of 50%. In 1812, the French tax system became applicable to our country: it is much stricter and has very high taxes.

A customs seal found by Edwin Bode-Wormmeester, of the Amsterdam customs office. Next to it, for comparison, is a lead from the customs office of Marseille from the same period in time.

front: A seated woman looking to the left with the inscription “bureau d’Amsterdam”

back: unknown

Type DOUANE-HENRY-CHAPPELE

Diameter: 33 mm

dating: 1813-1815

front: DOUANES / ROYAUME / DES PAY-BAS

back: PRINCIPALITÉ / DE HENRY / CHAPELLE

This customs seal, most likely from the Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands, was found in Germany by Frank Wenzel and is published on Balgseals.org 

Henry-Chappele, which is now located in Belgium, belonged to the Ourthe department from 1795 to 1814 and was a French department in the Netherlands. It included approximately the current Belgian province of Liège and some parts that are now in Germany. The constitution of 1814 of the Sovereign Principality of the United Netherlands (November 21, 1813 – March 16, 1815) (also) regulated the provincial structure of the principality. The province of Braband then also included Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and parts of the current provinces of Dutch Limburg and Belgian Limburg.

 

Type KL

 

front: generality lion

back: K.L. (Konvooijen Licenten)

Date: probably 1814-1815

On bagseals.org I came across this seal, found by Folkert, with the letters “KL” on it. In the period 1814-1815, the Convoys and Licenten service was often spelled “Konvoyen en Licenten” (see newspaper article). That could explain the “KL”. However, it could also be a lead from the Batavian period or the Kingdom of Holland.

Utrechtsche Courant 1816  

Customs seals with national coat of arms

In 1815 the United Kingdom of the Netherlands came into existence (Kingdom of the Netherlands and Royaume des Belgiques 1815-1830). The area that is now Belgium is then added until the independence of Belgium in 1830. In Belgium, people speak of the Dutch period. The first real national coat of arms is then announced in 1815. This has also been used in Belgium for 15 years. By decree, a new slightly modified coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was definitively adopted on June 24, 1816. (more info see rijkswapen, ‘”coat of arms)

From 1815 the national coat of arms is put on customs seals. This is a shortened version of the full national coat of arms. The two lions that normally hold the coat of arms, containing the Dutch lion, are missing. What remains is a crowned shield with the Dutch lion clawing to the left on a background shaded with horizontal lines with small rectangular blocks on it. Stamps of this shortened coat of arms are sealed in a lead seal. It is striking that over time the coat of arms is slightly different on the different types of customs seals. Sometimes the coat of arms is longer, shorter, thicker, coarser or more detailed. The coat of arms can therefore sometimes be used to identify a customs lead.

Arms type WAPEN-FIJN

The coats of arms on the older Rijksloden are the most refined. This is especially noticeable on the edge of the shield in which the lion stands. It consists of a thin line, while later versions switch to a thicker line. Due to the refined stamp, the prints are actually all of a lower quality. The coat of arms in the example is therefore composed of several images. Perhaps the first stamps were made by people who used to engrave coins.

Arms type WAPEN-DIK

This too is actually quite a refined coat of arms. However, the recognisability of the imprint has been taken into account. The print therefore has more recognizable lines because it probably uses deeper grooves. The shield in which the lion stands also has a much thicker line.

Arms type WAPEN-LANG

This arms type is longer and narrower than all others. It is also striking that there seem to be more rectangular blocks in it. This coat of arms also seems slightly less refined than its predecessor.

Arms type WAPEN-MIDDEL

This arms type sits exactly in between its longer predecessor and shorter successor in style. Again slightly less refined and the cross on the crown also seems to disappear.

Arms type WAPEN-KORT

This print takes into account the smaller size of the seal lead. The coat of arms is now so small that the lion just fits in it. To save space, the cross on top of the crown has also been dropped. Because lines and lion are less refined, it sometimes happens that the mouth of the lion seems extended. This one looks more like a duck or crocodile.

Type SRIJKS-REGTEN


Shape: Round
Diameter: about 25mm
Dated around 1818

Description:

Not much is known about this customs lead. In 1818, the service “In and outgoing rights and excises” was first mentioned, which is why the lead is dated this way.

Obv: Abbreviated coat of arms without text. This weapon appears to be just like its Fine weapon type predecessor.

Rev: Text “’S RIJKS REGTEN” with a simple decorative bar underneath.

Type INUIT

Subtypes: “BASIS”, “FRANS”, “LINKS” and “RECHTS”
Shape: Round
Diameter: 27mm
Dating entire type: ca1818-ca1853 (drop-shaped leads are introduced in 1853, see type RENA)

Description:

This lead is very similar to its predecessor type SRIJKS-REGTEN. On the reverse, however, is the text “IN EN UITAANDE REGTEN EN ACCYNSEN” with a more extensive decorative bar.

On the obverse is the Dutch coat of arms.

Because the service “In and outgoing rights and accynsen” was effectuated in 1818, you can date these types of customs seals from around 1818. Because Belgium was still part of the Netherlands and later continued independently in 1830, it is logical that this seal was no longer used in Belgium after that.

Numbering and dating

The exact dating of this type of lead has not (yet) been found. Based on the amount of INUIT-BASE (and FRENCH) leads you can see that this lead has been in use for a while. For the time being I assume that this is from 1818 to 1830. After this, these leaden are given a registration number on the types INUIT-LINKS (ca 1-229), INUIT-RIGHT (ca 230-345) and NORA (ca 370-620). Literature has shown that in 1853 a new type of lead lead was introduced. Global entry year of INUIT-LEFT will then be 1830, INUIT-right 1838 and NORA 1844. This is an entry date! During the entire period up to 1853, these leads may have been used.

This is also not exactly described, but this can hardly have been anything other than the RENA type. Here they start again with registration number 1 and there has also been an intermediate version RENA-NO that resembles its predecessor NORA in terms of text, but in terms of shape (drop-shaped) to its successor.

Abreviations of province names

 

Subtype INUIT-BASIS

Shape: Round – slightly oval
Diameter: 27mm
Dating subtype: ca1818-ca1830

Description:
This sub-type has been given the name “BASIS”  (base) because this lead is the base of this type. This does not yet has a registration number in position B. The subtypes “LINKS” and “RECHTS” do have a number (with the text “No” in position A).

So far I have only encountered 1 customs lead with the abbreviation “ZH” in position C. 

Subtype INUIT-FRANS

Shape: Round – slightly oval
Diameter: 27mm
Dating subtype: ca1818-ca1830

This is the French version of type INUIT-BASIS

On the reverse is the text “DROITS D’ENTREE ET DE SORTIE ACCISES”.

This lead can be found in the article “Leads from our Dutch Period”, highly recommended

(https://www.academia.edu/46167093/Loodjes_uit_onze_Hollandse_periode)

SubType INUIT-LINKS

Vorm: Rond – licht ovaal
Diameter: 27 mm
Registratienummers: ca 1-229
Datering subtype: invoerdatum ca 1830 (kan gebruikt zijn tot ca 1853)

Omschrijving:

Dit is het eerste type waarbij een douane registratienummer gebruikt wordt. Dit nummer staat LINKSOM. Op positie A links naast het Nederlandse rijkswapen, staat linksom in een sierlijke letter het woordje “No”. Op positie B staat linksom een registratienummer tussen 1 en 227 (zie hieronder). De oriëntatie van het registratienummer op dit type lood is dus LINKS om vandaar ook deze type benaming.

Ik vermoed dat deze loodjes met een registratienummer vanaf 1830 zijn gemaakt omdat ook België toen zijn eigen versie douaneloodjes begon uit te geven, met nummer.

Bij de laagste nummers (i.i.g. bij nummer 84 en 107) lijkt er geëxperimenteerd te zijn met een groter lettertype waarbij het rechte sierbalkje onderaan vervangen is door een kromme versie.

Registratienummers

Na veel turven is het eerste loodje dat ik van dit type ben tegen gekomen nummer 15 en de laatste nummer 227.  Zelf denk ik dat het ooit is begonnen met nummer 1 en is geëindigd met nummer 229. Wellicht duiken deze nummers ooit nog eens op.

Shape: Round – slightly oval
Diameter: 27mm
Registration numbers: ca 1-229
Dating subtype: entry date ca 1830 (may have been used until ca 1853)

Description:

This is the first type where a customs registration number is used. This number is turned LEFT – counterclockwise (LINKS). At position A to the left of the Dutch national coat of arms, the word “No” is written counterclockwise in an elegant letter. At position B counterclockwise is a registration number between 1 and 227 (see below). The orientation of the registration number on this type of lead is LEFT/LINKS, hence this type name.

I think that these seals with a registration number were made from 1830, because Belgium also started issuing its own version of customs seals, with number.

With the lowest numbers (i.e. with numbers 84 and 107) there seems to have been an experiment with a larger font in which the straight decorative bar at the bottom has been replaced by a curved version.

Registration numbers

After a lot of examining, the first lead I have come across of this type is number 15 and the last number 227. I myself think that it once started with number 1 and ended with number 229. Perhaps one day these numbers will pop up.

SubType INUIT-RECHTS

Shape: Round – slightly oval
Diameter: 27mm
Registration numbers: approx. 230-345
Dating subtype: introduction ca 1838 (may have been used until ca 1853)

Description:

This type is very similar to the INUIT-LINKS type and also has a customs registration number. At position A to the left of the Dutch coat of arms, the word “No” is now simply horizontal (from ca 314 it changes from an elegant letter to a straight letter). Position B shows the registration number clockwise from 230 to 345. The orientation of the registration number on this type of lead is therefore turned RIGHT (RECHTS), hence this type designation.

Registration numbers

After much examining, the first lead of this type that I have come across is number 230 and the last number 345. It is striking that this last number also has a drop-shaped lead.

The division of the seals into Customs and Excise duties

While researching customs and excise weights I came across a new seal (left). For the time being I have given it the name “REGTEN”. There is a (hard to read) text on “IN” “UITGAANDE”. Because this text corresponds to the larger type INUIT customs seals (above), this lead is most likely a derivative or predecessor of this seal. 

Earlier I have encountered a excise seal which has been given the type ACCYNSE (right) which is also probably a derivative form or predecessor of the larger INUIT type. If you compare this seal with an INUIT type, the font of the word “accynse” matches and there is also a decorative stripe on this lead. The type ACCYNSE is often found in The Netherlands.

On both small seals is there is no registration number.  This probably implies that the REGTEN seal was made during the period of INUIT BASIS and INUIT FRANS (1818-1830). This is also roughly the period in which the excise seal type ACCYNSE was used.

Type NORA

Shape: Round, slightly oval
Diameter: 27mm
Registration numbers approx. 370 to 620
Dating: date of entry ca 1844 (may have been used until ca 1853)

Description:

NORA is a combination of the text on these customs seals NO and R(echten) A(taxes).

This type is the successor of the INUIT type and is also reasonably round. It appears to be a short-lived intermediate version

On one side is again, just like with all previous round types, the abbreviated Dutch national coat of arms. This is actually the only type where the length of the coat of arms seems to vary. It sometimes resembles Long weapon type, but also Medium weapon type.

On the other side are the lines “No.” “R&A” and the registration number.

I have not found any further references to abbreviations of province names on this type.

Import, export and transit

After the round seals of the NORA type, there is a switch to the teardrop shape.

There are two variants of these teardrop-shaped plumbs, namely the RENA type and the RWA type

By means of indirect clues I have tried to reconstruct when these types were introduced. For this I used two lists of lost sealers and priesers.

The first list (LIJSTA) dates from 1875 and was published in “Weekblad voor de administratie der directe belastingen, in- en uitgaande rechten en accijnzen, jrg 4, 1875. “

The second list (LIJSTB) dates from 1910 and was part of the “REGISTER OP DE VERZAMELING VAN WETTEN, ENZ. BETEEFFENDE DE DIRECTE BELASTINGEN, INVOERRECHTEN EN ACCIJNZEN.”

Then some findings:

From 1877 export duties were no longer levied. This must have had a major impact on the amount of customs leads that were created.
In LISTB, the list of sealing stamps and tongs states that the introduction of these was in 1853
In both LIJSTA and LIJSTB there are “new model” sealing pliers from 1871

The RENA variant is found significantly more in Great Britain than the RWA variant. This actually implies that the RENA variant was probably used at a time when export duties were still levied. In addition, this type connects almost seamlessly to its round predecessor, the NORA type. With this you can almost certainly conclude that the RENA type is the earliest type and was therefore introduced in 1853.

The RWA variant is relatively more common in the Netherlands.

Type RENA-NO

Shape: Drop-shaped
Registration numbers approx. 1 to 21
Date: about 1853

The only seal known to me so far is the pictured lead with number 21.

This is a special seal that I came across on Facebook and was found by Lies Grendel.

It has a number of characteristics of the round NORA type and a number of the drop-shaped RENA type.

Similarities with NORA: the longer coat of arms type, the text “NO R&A 999”
Similarities with RENA: the teardrop shape, partial text “R&A 999” and pearl rim.

Type RENA

Subtypes: “PAREL”, “LIJN”
Shape: drop (length 22mm, width 17mm)
Registration numbers: ca 1-726
Dating entire type: introduction ca 1853-1871

In 1871 the RWA type is introduced. Even after 1871, the old RENA pliers end up on the missing pliers list from both 1875 and 1910. This implies that the RENA pliers and the RWA pliers were used interchangeably.

SubType RENA-PAREL (pearl)

Shape: drop
Registration numbers: ca 1-129
Dating subtype: introduction ca 1853-1858

Description:

On one side we see a shorter coat of arms than before without a cross on the crown (type 2). The coat of arms is inside a pearl wreath. Hence the name RENA-PAREL

On the reverse are the letters R&A within a pearl wreath with the registration number below.

The registration numbers on these leads are in the series 1 to 129. Because this is roughly 1/5 of 726, you can also take 1/5 of the period 1853-1871. You then end up with around 1858 as the final introduction year.

SubType R&A-LIJN (line)

Shape: drop
Registration numbers: ca 151-726
Dating subtype: ca 1858-1871

Description:

On one side we see a shorter coat of arms than before without a cross on the crown. The coat of arms is inside a pearl wreath.

On the reverse are the letters R&A within a line circle with the registration number below.

The registration number follows the previous series and starts at 151 and ends at 726. The issue period is approximately 1858-1871.

Additional information:
There is a pair of pliers of this type in the collection of the Tax and Customs Museum. The description is as follows:

Steel sealing tongs (1800-1899) with slightly curved handles. The number 518 is engraved in one of the two handles. The stamp bears the Dutch coat of arms on one side, the designation R & A 518 on the other side.  https://data.collectienederland.nl/page/aggregation/bendmuseum/02490

 

Type RWA

Shape: drop
Subtypes: “BASIS” base, “STREEP” stripe, “STER” star

Dated around 1871-1940

Registration numbers: ca 1-1920

This is the last lead customs seal. It is therefore not surprising that unused weights of this type are also found together with used ones. I myself own a number of these leads that come from a jar with old buttons.

This type was therefore taken into use in 1871 and served until about 1940. The RWA type replaced the RENA type, but was in circulation at the same time.

RWA stands for R coat of arms (in Dutch Wapen) A.

Description:

On the front, between the letters R and A, the coat of arms type is small. Around this is a circle in a thin line.

The reverse also shows a circle with a hollow inside that takes up about half of the circle. The registration number is shown horizontally below.

Some seals are printed tilted.

Above one of the later unused plumbs. Here you can clearly see that innovations have also been made in the field of weights. Inside the lead is a metal disc visible through which the rope used to seal was pulled before the seal was squeezed shut. As a result, the string was in the middle of the lead and it was virtually impossible to open the seal.

RWA-BASIS

Shape: drop

From number 1000 it is difficult to get the registration number right. They will experiment with the layout, such as a smaller font, turning the number stamp around so that there is more space and adding stripes and stars.

A pair of pliers with number 710 is in the collection of the Tax and Customs Museum

. https://data.collectienederland.nl/page/aggregation/bendmuseum/02496

 

RWA-STREEP

Shape: drop

In this version, the stripes that occur both at the top and at the bottom stand out. These stripes only seem to occur with registration numbers from 1400

RWA-STER

Shape: drop

In this version, the star printed in the cavity stands out. This variant occurs from registration number 1400. Lower numbers are also known, but these seem to me to be errors.

The Customs and Tax Museum owns a pair of pliers with number 1308 and a star.

 

Type U.K.

This is a small (approx. 15mm) customs seal for meat from approx. 1905. This is an export inspection (see article). The lead is often found in Great Britain, which is why it was long thought that UK stood for United Kingdom.

The national coat of arms is on the small lead. However, the lead is so small that only the lion with crown is actually visible. There is variation in what the lion looks like (sometimes looks like a crocodile) and what the crown looks like. Strangely enough, there are also variants with a mirrored coat of arms.

vz: UK – this stands for Uitvoer Keuring (eng. Export Inspection)

kz: national coat of arms

loodje U.K. – 1905 Verzameling publikaties betreffende de uitvoerkeuring van vlees

The end of lead customs seals

In general, most companies stopped applying lead seals around the second world war (1940-1945). I myself think that the government stopped this in 1940. In the collection of the Tax and Customs Museum there is a sealing pliers dated to 1900-1940 that support this reasoning. My estimation is that the German occupier did not use any Dutch state seals between 1940 and 1945 and that sealing therefore stopped in 1940. This is also supported by a pair of sealing pliers in the collection of the Tax and Customs Museum with a swastika stamp on it.

After 1945, they switch to a tin/aluminium seal.

Na 1945 worden dit soort aluminium tags bevestigd

Questions and comments

If you have any questions and/or comments, please email me (info@metaaldetecteren.nl). If you have a new and/or different type, please send photos that are as sharp as possible so that I can include them in the collection. There is also an article on excise seals of The Netherlands.

Sources

A nice article has been written about the Dutch-Belgian period (1815-1830) under King Willem I “Loodjes uit ons Hollandse Periode”, highly recommended (https://www.academia.edu/46167093/Loodjes_uit_onze_Hollandse_periode). In this publication there are references to the book “Van tollenaar tot poortwachter – Geschiedenis van de douane, de oudste rijksdienst van Nederland” by Tom Pfeil. I also consulted them. Other sources are Facebook, PAN (Portable Antiquities Nederland portable-antiquities.nl) , the Dutch Custom House Taxs Seals and of course bagseals.org.

If you want to know more about the French period in the Netherlands and the battles that were decisive for Dutch history, then the article De inval van de Engelsen en de Russen (The invasion of the English and the Russians) is very worthwhile.

Disclaimer

This is also an organic document. It grows as more and more information becomes known. It also contains a number of hypotheses and it will therefore really lead to discussion and change here and there. If you have any errors and/or comments, please let me know.

I have given the utmost care and attention to the data and information. Nevertheless, it is possible that there may be errors and/or imperfections. I accept no liability for damage resulting from this and/or damage as a result of or in connection with the use, reliance on or distribution of the data and information from the website. I reserve the right to change my website at any time without informing third parties or denying third parties access to the website.