On Seals and Sealing Wax

Little Jackie Paper brought his friend, Puff, the Magic Dragon, sealing wax (and other fancy stuff), so this gentleman thought it appropriate to speak of sealing wax and seals in this space.

Seals and the wax upon which they leave their imprint were invented around 5500 years ago in Mesopotamia. Kings and dignitaries have used them in the intervening six millennia, and we common folk have used them off and on in the past few hundred years or so. Many official government documents and court papers still find the use of wax seals. This practice amongst us common persons was necessitated by the fact that letters themselves often formed the envelope and needed to be closed. Additionally, the earliest envelopes had not gummed surfaces for sealing, and this called for sealing with wax when the contents of the letter demanded privacy. Like letter writing itself, the use of wax to seal an envelope has fallen out of fashion, but, again, like letter writing, sealing letters is making a return to the desk of the gentleperson.

These fine gentlepersons can instruct the neophyte on the use of seals and wax. Some videos on that site offer instruction. The site is offering wax and seals for sale which are adequate to the task, but this gentleman advises one to look around the interwebs before buying and trying.

Please note that the wonderful gentlepersons at the United States Postal Service will humbly ask for a few more coins of the realm than is usual in order to deliver a post with wax on it for the simple reason that the automaton that sorts the various posted items cannot handle the raised wax. Thus, the sealed post message must be hand-cancelled and processed. That small increase in retainer is worth it, in the mind of this gentleman at least, because the gentle recipient who turns over the sealed envelope and discovers a beautiful seal on the closure of the letter feels a thrill run up his or her spine.

This gentleman spent a pittance to obtain a small but swell thistle seal (see the photograph above) and two short lengths of wicked crimson sealing wax. This writer chose the image of a thistle as an homage to his Scots ancestry and because Edinburgh is one of this writer’s favorite places on earth. This writer also enjoys the swirling of the blood red and the black of the burned wick and feels it creates a beautiful palette for the seal itself (Although the purist would say that the presence of the black in the wax is declasse’.).

Certainly, one has every right to say that such an artsy-fartsy practice is reserved for those with more time than common sense, but this gentleman finds the use of a wax seal adds a certain panache to a world growing exponentially obsessed with the mundane.

Carry on.

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