...TO TALK OF SEALING-WAX
Having already written about shoes, ships, cabbages and kings, we felt obliged to pen a story about sealing-wax. This is it.
You rarely see a wax-sealed letter these days, but you may spot wax seals on professional certificates proudly displayed in doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms. Whether it is in the waiting room of a dentist South Jersey or a doctor South Jersey, doctors and dentists legally have to display their degrees and certifications. And they're sometimes used to decorate formal wedding invitations.
An unusual website, Medieval Mayhem, in Lake Ronkonkoma, Long Island, New York, says: "The use of wax seals for officiating and securing correspondence can be traced to the origins of the written word."
In 1215, England's King John affixed a large wax seal to indicate he accepted Magna Carta, the document which founded British and American freedom. Historians believe John was illiterate, so could not sign his name. Queen Elizabeth II became the only monarch to sign the charter, in a ceremony at Runnymede in 1965.
The Edinburgh (Scotland) firm Waterstons has been making sealing-wax since 1752. It says:
Times may have changed, but nothing can add a touch of elegance and traditional charm to your gifts and correspondence like a well crafted seal. Still made using age old handcrafted techniques, our wax uses only natural products.I recall watching my father, in the1920s, gingerly melting a stick of red wax about the size of a lipstick over a lighted candle, until the hot wax dripped on to the back of a sealed envelope. He would then press his signet ring on it, leaving a clear impression of his initials.
He may well have been following these instructions which a US website, Pendemonium , says were found in a boxed set of wax seals from the early 1900s:
Pendemonium is a full time writing equipment shop owned by Sam and Frank Fiorella in Fort Madison, Iowa. Its website says "We are one of just a handful of full time writing equipment dealers in the world."
It advertises a 21st century update of time-honoured sealing-wax:
Faux sealing wax is all the rage! Flexible seals can survive mailing far better than old fashioned sealing wax, so if the seal must go on the outside of an envelope, this wax is the one to use. Plus it's simple to use, no flame involved. Just pop a stick in your mini glue gun and squeeze out 6-10 seals per stick.FOOTNOTE. Back in WWII, soldiers and their girlfriends/lovers/wives often sealed their letters not with wax, but by writing SWALK on the back of their envelopes... an acronym for Sealed With A Loving Kiss.