A short story of the imagery of royal seals
In heraldry the left side is the right.
And the right side is the left. It is all from the bearer's point of view. Imagine that you are carrying the shield (often called an eschutcheon). It will set things right.
To simplify things left is called "sinister" and right is called "dexter". But, of course, there is yet another thing. As the seal is engraved as a mirror image and the heraldic image is shown from the bearer's point of view it makes left left and right right. Right?
The various symbols surrounding the escutcheon is also enlightening when reading a seal. This is a Swedish royal crown, indicating that the owner is a Queen or a King.
And in this case there are two additional crowns, because the seal belonged to a regent of a dual kingdom, Sweden-Norway.
The Norwegian axe wielding lion on the escutcheon is on the sinister side (and we all know what that means by now). The Swedish three crowns and crowned lion is on the dexter side.
The inescutcheon shows the impaled image of Pontecorvo (sinister) and the House of Vasa (dexter). Bearing in mind that the seals owner, King Oscar I, once was Prince heir of Pontecorvo it is a token of respect and continuity to display the forebearers' shield to the right.
Below the escutcheon we find all five Swedish Royal Orders, displayed by rank with the highest below. From the bottom: The Royal Order of the Seraphim, the Order of the Sword, the Order of the Polar Star, The Order of Vasa and the Order of Charles XIII.
The creatures holding the escutcheon are called supporters and could be fashioned in many ways. Lions are quite usual.
National Historical Museums
Text: G. Sandell
Photo: H. Bonnevier