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Fanning family seal

Date: c 1770
Overall: 28 x 20 x 23 mm, 11 g
Medium: Silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Seal
Object No: 00050166

User Terms

    This silver seal with double stirrup-shaped mount with the Fanning family crest would have been used by the Fanning family to secure and identify correspondence and important documents.
    SignificanceEdmund Fanning came from a prominent American colonial family. This background provided education and opportunities that allowed for his success in later life. These seals reflect his family connections.
    HistoryEdmund Fanning (April 24, 1739 – February 28, 1818) had a distinguished career as a colonial governor and British general. He fled, with other Loyalists, to Nova Scotia in 1783 and became lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia in that same year. In 1786, he was appointed governor of St. John's Island (which was later renamed Prince Edward Island) a post which he held for almost 19 years. Prince Edward Island's Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor, is often referred to as "Fanningbank" on the island, though Fanning never dwelt there. He was appointed General of the British Army in 1808. He retired to London and died there in 1818.

    Despite having several children, Fanning had no grandchildren. He had two daughters and also had several prominent nephews, including the like-named explorer Edmund Fanning, the war hero Nathaniel Fanning, and the celebrated attorney John Wickham.

    Edmund Fanning, nephew of the above, was born in Stonington, Connecticutt in 1769. At the age of 14 he first went to sea. He became an active mechant explorer, promoting trade and exploration in the South Seas. In command of a trading vessel, he realized a large profit from an expedition in 1797–98. In the course of the voyage he traded a cargo of trinkets for seal skins in the islands off the coast of Chile and exchanged them for valuable Chinese goods at Guangzhou, returning around the Cape of Good Hope. During the expedition he discovered Fanning Island, Washington Island, and other islands. Convinced of the profits to be made from trade in the South Seas, he became the agent for a group of New York City merchants, supervising over 70 expeditions and participating in some of them. His 'Voyages around the World' published in1833 shed light on some of the little-known parts of the globe. A copy is in the National Maritime Collection. Fanning died in 1841.

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