This indenture measures 15-1/4 inches wide by 9-1/2 inches high, though these measurements are not exact as it was not cut completely straight. The ink seems to be sepia toned. There is some writing in pencil, but it has since been mostly erased or faded.
The back side, as you can see in our 3rd picture, is completely blank except for the red bordering. This means it could be used for your own calligraphy endeavor or other wondrous printings and artwork.
This was once a piece of a much larger indenture. It is not complete - that's what makes it exciting to use in your artwork!
Before computers and even before typewriters, most documents were hand-written. Letters, contracts and notes were all recorded by hand. Contracts have been executed since the days of Charlemagne (742-814) - perhaps even before. Because of the importance of agreement by the two parties involved in a contract, it became quite important to record what the agreement actually was.
An indenture is a legal contract between two parties. Such contracts were generally for indentured labor or servitude, apprenticeships and certain land transactions. At first, such important documents were printed on sheepskin vellum, as paper making had not reached Europe until well into the middle ages. And, many Europeans did not accept paper as worthy, and did not care for its impermanence. Many heads of state refused to honor anything written on paper.
Finally, with the dawn of the printing press around in the 15th century, the use of paper became more widespread. However due to the importance of indentures, and the possibility that the contract might have spanned generations, indentures were executed on vellum through the 19th century, and, in some rare instances, beyond.
The process of writing an indenture was tedious. Two copies of exactly the same terms were written on the same sheet in permanent ink by dip pen. Then the two copies were separated by cutting along a jagged (as if chewed) line. Later, the two parts could easily be identified if the they fit back together along the separation - like puzzle pieces. The jagged, or toothed, edge is called an indenture. In some cases there were 3 pieces, one piece to be kept at the court.
As with all of our Indenture Pieces
it includes beautiful examples of handwriting.