Half-A-Century-Old Typo

When we think about old cultures, we often idealize their achievements. Ancient symbols engraved in stone or glyphs drawn on parchment arouse our imagination. We tend to forget that they were created by people like us – human beings who are prone to make things up or to make mistakes.

A nice example of this is the story behind the old seal of the medieval city of Stochulm (Stockholm). The words around the symbol are misspelled: They read “Stochum” instead of Stochulm, and “cicicum” instead of civium (council). There is no hidden meaning, no mystery to be solved; it’s just a simple typo. What is more, it took almost 50 years to be corrected! The first mention of the seal in wax was in 1281 (the oldest visual is dated to 1296), but the new seal with the correct spelling didn’t appear until 1326. Apparently all for a lack of funds.

Obviously, back then spell-checking was a big deal. Think about that next time you're mad at your smart phone’s autocorrect.