Sealed with a sailboat

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Do not begin by thrusting the end of the wax into the flame and conveying it in a flaming spatter to your envelope. Take plenty of time and hold the wax above the flame of the candle, but not near enough to burn; a burnt wax makes a streaky seal and is hard to manage. When the wax has gradually softened, apply it with a circular movement upon the place to be sealed, rub it around and down until you have a circle of proper size and thickness and apply the seal. The result should be a clear-cut impression.

— From a wax seal boxed set from the early 1900’s, via

Karen found some leftover J. Herbin sealing wax and a little sailboat stamp in the stockroom the other day, so I’ve been trying out my hand at using them. It’s been years since I sat down and wrote an actual letter, but I figured I could practice stamping the seal on some plain old notebook paper to see how well it worked.

I began with the classic King’s Wax (originally manufactured for King Louis XIV of France), and I daresay that my first attempts didn’t work out too well. I didn’t have any candles, so I held the wax above a lighted match and did my best to follow the instructions above. But it was hard to heat the wax without spilling little drops onto the paper, and the match would often burn out before the wax was thoroughly warm.

I then went out, bought a candle, and tried again. This time, I could heat the wax just fine, but the stick would get stuck on the page whenever I tried to apply it with a circular movement. Back to Google. Turns out, other websites recommend heating the wax in such a way that it drips straight onto the page (rather than, as I’d been doing, heating it first and them smearing it).

Unfortunately, the candle I’d bought was too thick to be able to do that, and that’s when I decided to cheat. J. Herbin also makes a wax that has its very own wick all you have to do is light the wick, wait for the wax to heat up, and let it drip onto the page voila, success! I’ve posted the picture above; it’s hardly the best looking seal (nor, for that matter, the greatest photograph), but that doesn’t make me any less proud of it.

Guess I’m going to have to start writing real letters again¦

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