Several years ago, in my job as a librarian, I got to catalog a really unusual item: a patent of nobility. Patents of nobility were issued when a person was granted a title, and usually include a coat of arms to go with the title.
The patent I cataloged had been almost forgotten some time before I came to the library, and stored among other old items that had been set aside for careful treatment or further research. In this case the patent was a large “quarto” sized book (each page is a quarter of full sized sheet, in this case that makes the book 37 cm tall), bound in red velvet and with black and yellow ribbons tying it closed. A wooden disc was attached by a gold cord, and when I looked more closely at the disc I realized it had a lid and opened. Inside I found this:
Here’s the book’s cover and the seal:
Here we see his full title: Franz Carl Maydan von Dannenthal. He was apparently an artillery commander of some kind. The text, I assume, explains his genealogy and what he did to earn his title, but the German was beyond me to scan and I could not take the time to try to decipher it all. He had a short entry in a reference book, which I consulted while creating an authority record for his name. Otherwise he is basically forgotten, except perhaps by his descendants.
The coolest part of the book is the coat of arms — rendered in full color, with gold foil decorations. This was painted directly on the page, and the colors were quite brilliant despite the age:
It is signed by Joseph II of Austria and a variety of others (I could not make out their names). It is dated 1781. You can take a look at it in the flesh if you come to Cleveland. (There are many, many more treasures in the Special Collections of Cleveland Public Library too.)