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Signed, sealed, and delivered

Posted by Lewis on March 31, 2006

In Reply to: Signed, sealed, and delivered posted by David FG on March 28, 2006

: : what is the origin of the phrase "signed, sealed, and delivered"

: Under English law (and the law of other states which are based upon it) certain contracts - particularly those dealing with land (real property) required (and still require) greater formality than those for other property. Among these are the need to have contracts for the sale of land to be signed, impressed with a seal, and personally delivered to the other party. Hence, signed, sealed and delivered: done fully and with proper formality.


these days the wording is usually "Signed as a Deed by" rather than "signed, sealed and delivered by".

Tt was called a Deed because a deed is a completed act and only exists once completed. the seals on deeds were often replaced by the letters "l.s." - locus sigili - the place of the seal, even though when I started out a little red sticker was being used in place of the old wax seals.

I used to deal with public land that had sometimes not changed ownership in over an hundred years - I used to handle paper with the old wax seals of a century past.

IMO at the time, wax seals were a better guarantee of authenticity and could 'seal' a document in the sense of making it tamper-resistent, but times change and Deeds are less important than in the days before public records of ownership. in England the "Deeds" of a house or other property are now simply an entry in the Government's Land Registry computer.

the next challenge is for digital signatures to be as secure as complex wax seals once were.