A Little History of Wax Seals

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A couple of weeks ago i went to an antique show in Rehoboth. There was a dealer that was selling collections of antique wax seals.I have always loved getting a card from someone that uses one, capsule like a dear customer of mine in Australia. Every so often she sends a lovely letter sealed with a wax seal, along with lots of lovely photographs of her beautiful country, Australia. I always hate to open it because it looks so pretty.

These three seals are from the signet rings of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Jay. These wax seals were used during the signing of the Treaty of Paris in Sept. 1783, ending the war between America and England.

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The first Seal of the United States was created by Ben Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on July 4th, 1776, immediately after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was then that Congress realized the necessity of such a seal for the newly established nation. Important documents in England and the Colonies were authenticated by placing a glob of sealing wax next to the signature and impressing the wax with a signet ring. In these times wills could be easily falsified and the wishes of the descendant ignored, so wills were “sealed” by pressing a signature ring into the soft sealing wax proving that only the possessor of the ring was the true grantee, making bequests to his heirs.

With the introduction of the “gummed” envelope in the 19th century, the need for the seals was gone. It was around this time that the seal was used as a more decorative embellishment.

Today a seal is used as a personal flair to letters, notes and cards, even gift packaging. If you would like to try your own personal seal, try this, use a glue gun. Look around your house and find something personal that you could use as an impression in the hot glue, but first make sure that the item you are using for the impression is cold enough that it will not stick to the hot glue. Put it in the freezer for a while before you try it. So there you have it, your own personal seal. Let me know how you make out.
Happy day
Carole

13 Responses to “A Little History of Wax Seals”

  1. gayle tweed Says:

    Hello Carole–Thanks for visiiting my blog!!!

    I love the idea of sealing wax and writing real letters–rarely do anymore though.

    Enjoy your August…..

    Gayle

  2. Joy Says:

    Carole,
    You always write about the most interesting things! Now I have to do this ~ again. I used wax seals as a teenager when I was fascinated with fancy schmancy stationery and all of its accoutrements. I have a little pewter cookie press from ASL. Do you think this would work?

    ~ Joy

  3. carole holt Says:

    Hi Joy. Thank you for you comment today. I do try to keep things interesting on my blog. I am glad you are going to try it again and yes I think the pewter cookie cutter would certainly work perfectly. I hope you let me know how you make out with it. Wouldn’t it be fun to do this on Christmas cards?
    Carole

  4. Jenny Says:

    Carole, seals certainly add appealing color and texture to old documents, don’t they? And thank you for adding Ken to your prayers!

  5. Rachael Kinnison Says:

    I love these Carole! There is nothing that can replace a nicely written letter~ I collect the early wax stamping seals and my favorite are the multi wheel type. They are all amazing, and I use them on my own letters still!
    xoxoxo rachael

  6. Pear Tree Primitives Says:

    Very interesting, thanks for sharing about this lost art. I’ll have to give this a try.

    Suzanne

  7. Sue Hoad Says:

    Hi Carole

    When my mum passed away she left me some of her jewellery and bits and bobs and one of the items was a wax seal wheel with days of the week on it. Each day uses a different stone and I have never seen anything like it before. I wondered if there was a collector who may be interested in it as I am looking to find a good home for it. Do you have any suggestions.

    Kind regards

    Sue

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