What does the town seal of Arkham, Massachusetts look like?
That's a thought that's been occupying my brain since I began thinking of doing some Arkham municipal documents. Realistically, the city should have a distinctive seal for official documents and property just like the real small cities that fill Massachusetts. Given that, the best source of inspiration for my fictional seal would be the ones used by cities of comparable size and history to Lovecraft's legend-haunted creation.
Every town and city in Massachusetts has an official seal to serve as an authenticity marking for the various forms of official paper that governments produce in abundance. Some of them date back to designs that existed before the United States was brought into existence, but the the majority were created after independence as settlements expanded and eventually incorporated. That process reached a crescendo in 1899, when the Commonwealth legislated that every municipality was required to have one within a year.
So where do we find pictures of the hundreds of seals in use over the years? Luckily, history obsessed antiquarians are more than the protagonists of Mythos fiction. The best record of the various seals in use is probably Town and City Seals of Massachusetts, a two volume set of books by Allan Forbes and Ralph M. Eastman published by the State Street Trust Company, a regional bank, in the 1950's. Back in those bygone days the books were given away as civic-minded premiums to potential customers of the bank, so it's easy to find single copies and complete sets on Ebay and Amazon.
Tomorrow I'll have some scans of interesting and inspirational examples for the Arkham seal project.