Today we had the pleasure of having some judges and law professors from Tomsk, Russia visit the registry of deeds. They’ve spent the week in Massachusetts, visiting various courts and government offices. Since hearing about the registry of deeds can get a bit tedious even for listeners who are fluent in English and have some background in American property law, we highlighted some of the unique features of this place, especially our electronic recording system and our website. While they seemed suitably impressed when we recorded a discharge electronically (the image and data was submitted by a remote user), they seemed astounded at the amount we charge to record documents (a justifiable and boundary-less response to our high recording fees). There were also several questions about the risk of fraudulent documents being recorded and what we can (and can’t) do to prevent it. Everyone also crowded around one of our oldest record books to see a 1640 deed from several Indian tribes. The locus was a 50 mile wide swath of what is now northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, extending from the eastward bend in the Merrimack River in Lowell all the way to the Atlantic Coast at what is now Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Oh, and the purchase price for this sale was “a wagon load of winter coats and the love and affection we have for our English king.” A buyer’s market, I suppose. What made this document particularly interesting was the manner in which the tribal chiefs signed it, not with signatures, but with uniquely individual pictographs – small stick figures, each slightly different in appearance, each representing a different chief. Finally, we used the Google Earth program to demonstrate how we plan to link overhead photographs and maps of the property in our district to the documents recorded here at the registry.