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Seals and Sealing Waxes

Perry says:

>root says:
>> This is the same problem that arose with the original idea of seals once
>> the skills of metalworking became commen enough. By the 1500's it was
>> nearly impossible to keep a seal confidential more than a few weeks until
>> somebody got a impression and built a copy.
>Seals were duplicatable from the start. You just needed clay and a
>seal made with the oritinal if you wanted to forge them -- fairly
>common stuff. Signatures have been duplicatable from the start, too.

"All crypto is economics," and this is what made seals and sealing wax so
useful for so long. Saying "seals were duplicatable from the start" does
not mean this feat was easy, even if technically possible.

In fact, the fine details produced by a good seal are hard to exactly
emulate with a copy. Even on a two-dimensional surface. And with the advent
of three-dimensional surfaces, which sealing wax made possible, the fine
detail of a good seal was in fact very hard to forge.

Not impossible, but very costly with the technology of the day. Or even the
technology of _today_. After all, paper currency is largely based on seal
technology, with various embossing, printing, etc. methods used (on special
paper) that remain fairly hard to duplicate.

(Not impossible, and counterfeiting flourishes. It's all about economics,
and I'm only disputing the claims of easiness. As an added note,
transactions in the Far East are still often "sealed" with "chop marks,"
carved stamps that are uniquely associated with persons or groups.)

>Signatures and seals are NOT truly authenticating technologies. They
>are just a legal mechanism for an entity to demonstrate that it has
>read and agreed to the terms on a document. It was always assumed that
>someone might forge a signature, which is why if you had a document
>where you cared that people might disclaim their signature, you got
>people who could testify to the signature to witness the signing.

I think this understates the importance of signatures and seals in these
earlier times.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^859433 | Public Key: PGP and MailSafe available.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."