Seal presses use pressure to force a top and bottom set of dies together to create an embossed design on paper or foil. They are still used today by notaries to mark important legal documents, though they have largely been supplanted by inked stamps.
The lion-head lever-type press shown here is more ornate than most of the embossers in the CBP History Collections. Though the plates have worn down over the years, the dies feature the American bald eagle holding a bundle of arrows and an olive branch, under an arch of 13 stars.
The U.S. Customs Service used seal presses in all locations to imprint official documents. This one came from the District of Philadelphia, Deputy Collector of Customs, Tuckerton, New Jersey.
Object ID# 2012.31.1
Cast iron embosser with white enamel paint and embossing plates/dies.