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Could it be the Black Spread Eagle? According to GoogleBooks, this was a sign on King Street in 1703. Just search for "Black Spread Eagle King Street" in the following record (without the quotation marks): London Topographical RecordBy London Topographical SocietyPublished by London Topographical Society, 1907Item notes: v.4 (1907)Original from Harvard UniversityDigitized Aug 1, 2007
2d March London: 27: Octob: 1704I promise to pay to Mr. John. Winter or order [fower [perhaps four??] months after date one hundred pounds value real.100–– Thomas [Citkin?] 3791/3 [different hand, different pen]3 Black spread egel in King streett [in yet another hand]Polly Kimmitt
So it would be "spred egel"? Great! Thanks for your help. I'm working on a paper on the bankruptcy of the signator, Thomas Pitkin. I know that he had his shop in King's Street, so this must have been the exact location.
Great idea. I'm going to have to post some letters of Felix Frankfurter's.
Though it does not apply in this case, for future reference, photographing illegible documents with infrared film can render faded ink visible and, even with digital photography, skillful use of Photoshop filters can raise submerged detail and help one decipher text. Credit: Susan Weld who about 15 years ago gave a fascinating talk at Harvard on how she upended long-running paleographical debates over 2,000 year old bamboo strips from the Han dynasty of China using these tools.
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