a 2021 #Inktober Challenge

cover photo: Dean Spencer 


October means new art coming to light as people all over the world work their way through Inktober. In previous years, many used Gentleman Jack as inspiration, and we've asked you to join our Lister Art Challenge

This year we want to explore Anne Lister's collection of wax seals by inviting everyone to sketch their imagination or re-creation of seals of Lister and her correspondents. Our Wax Seals & Stamps page hosts several descriptions of wax seals; some by Anne herself, and others by researchers examining examples that remain on letters in archives.

The Challenge

For your daily sketching, you can pick any item in the tracker, but if you want more constraints, you can follow the daily prompts below. 


Day 1: to the moon! "new moon rising over the sea, motto 'je ne change qu’en appearance" from Lou and Anne Belcombe

Day 2: Remembrance "A black seal with a cherub and the words 'not lost but gone before' (mourning seal)."

Day 3:  a fancy seal "a fancy seal (a violet and il faut me chercher)"

Day 4: a bird? "black wax, bordered symbol that appears to be two birds perched on a bowl with L’amitie above it"

Day 5: a memento from a lover "wrote the other end & under the seal & finished my letter (began yesterday) to M- account for not sealing with the pelican" 

Day 6: think of me Red wax, "Pensez à moi" surrounded by a border

Day 7: a mother's gift (a pelican feeding her young with the blood from her breast)...that it had broken off from my seal-ring & was lost forever. My mother gave me this seal when I was a child. 

Day 8: what time is it? Tib used a seal w/ a clock face with the motto “Cheto fuor commoto dentro” [quiet without, active within] often when writing to Anne. 

Day 9: you have to look for me "took a stroll along Coventry Street, Halfhide and Co., #7. Will cut me a seal w/ a motto e.g. a violet under a hedge with the motto il faut me chercher, for a guinea."

Day 10: Bird's Head Black wax, Shield with X (cross) and a bird's head with motto on scroll, Letter from William Duffin, York to Anne  Lister, Shibden Hall

Day 11: Vulgar Miss Vallance "seals with an arrow aimed at an apple – motto – Tell et liberté – I do not much like this image & superscription, at least when used by an English lady in England"

Day 12: Eliza Profile bust of man's head with curly hair and headband, facing left, Letter from M Crawford

Day 13: Parisian Amethyst Seal "enclosed the amethyst seal I got cut for my friend by Mellerio (rue de la paix, Paris) a violet flower among a tuft of grass – motto, “Il faut me chercher"

Day 14: Indistinguishable A black seal with indistinguishable carvings, Letter from Captain Sutherland to William Priestley. 

Day 15: Sib 'if you ever honour me by making use of it' - 'tis a thistle beautifully cut with the encircling motto 'Dinna forget' - I have looked at it with many a feeling of interest and regard'

Day 16: the key A key surrounded by a border, Letter from Maria Barlow, Paris, to Anne Lister, Shibden Hall 

Day 17: mother of pearl 7 seals fixed on a wheel with a nacre [mother-of-pearl] handle

Day 18:  kitty kitty The Sutherland cat surrounded by the words "Sans Peur" (the Clan's motto).

Day 19: Faith "Foi est tout” [Faith is everything] in block letters on a scroll, carved in bloodstone

Day 20: a Patronum? A black seal adorned with what seems to be a stag jumping

Day 21: #poorNantz Cupid in a boat guided by a star, motto "Si je te perds, je suis perdu” [“If I lose you I am lost”]  from Anne Belcombe 

Day 22: My Precious "Waste not one regret on the cutting of the seal. It is more precious to me than you have an idea of" - AW to AL, 3 Nov. 1832

Day 23: the wolf Red seal, Lawton coat of arms

Day 24: leaf Red wax, leaf with inscription

Day 25: that curly hair again Black wax, left-facing profile of man with curly hair and beard

Day 26: forever "toi pour toujours" [to you forever] 

Day 27: AW A.W. in black

Day 28: #poorTib Black wax, "Isabella"

Day 29: motifs A red seal with undistinguishable motifs, Letter from Lady Stuart de Rothesay, Whitehall, to Anne Lister, Shibden Hall

Day 30: pineapple vibes red wax, diamond pattern, Letter from Miss Marsh, York, to Anne Lister, Langton

Day 31: RIP Mariana Red seal, Lawton arms, Bond between C Lawton, W Lawton & E Darvall & H.S. Belcombe before the marriage



Special thanks to the #AnneListerCodeBreakers who's invaluable work makes these excerpts for the challenge possible. More thanks to everyone who participated in our 2021 challenge for #Inktober!