We’ve occasionally had thoughts about bringing in sealing wax and supplies from J. Herbin, but we’ve never actually pulled the trigger. So many letters and symbols for the seals, so many colours and types of wax! In the last few weeks, however, we had a customer special order some sealing wax (Hi, Shannon!), and we figured no time like the present. I’ve been working on responding to a few of the letters we’ve received over InCoWriMo, and seeing some of the beautiful wax seals coming in didn’t hurt either.
We’ve now got a few colours of supple sealing wax from J. Herbin in the shop and online.
Sealing wax has a wonderful history in securing letters to prevent spies and nosy mother-in-laws (just kidding!) from pouring over your deepest thoughts. It was also used to authenticate or certify things like proclamations – kind of like how you get an embossed seal from a notary public if you need something certified. In ye old days, it was coloured with vermilion, making it waxy and red, which is why red or burgundy is usually the traditional colour we see even today on certificates and wedding invitations.
Nowadays, thanks to the swift and unstoppable Canada Post (and federal laws), wax seals are a bit of a non-issue, and most used for ceremony – again on things like certificates or sending hand written letters.
The original stuff was meant to crack and break when the letter was opened, and actually today, it’s still available in its earliest formula as “traditional” “Cire Banque” sealing wax from J. Herbin. The boxes have an irresistible vintage flair to them (so irresistible, I had to get a box myself…), but it’s a big box – it comes with ten sticks, each as long as the box. This traditional wax won’t make it through the postal system, so it’s good for hand delivered items, certificates or just decoratively.
For letters going through the mail, you’ll want to use supple sealing wax or flexible sealing wax. This stuff is a bit bendier, so it doesn’t break. I think the postal system uses a lot of rollers to pass envelopes through in sorting, which is why there’s a different rate for letters/papers going through flat, and a big jump to envelopes (parcels) that contain 3D objects, even if they are quite flat, since they can’t be processed mechanically.
I waffled quite a bit about which seal I wanted. C for Chan? W for Wonder Pens? S for Super?? I ended up with the Anchor. Jon said it’s very reminiscent of the Sailor logo, which is …an anchor, but there’s just something about the romance of something coming from afar and oceans away (even though 95% of my letters are within Canada).
J. Herbin sells the brass seal with the symbol or the letter separately from the handle. If you’re interested special ordering either a brass seal (15$) or handle (14$). Send us an email (info at wonderpens.ca) if you are interested in special ordering one of the seals below.
Getting it onto the page is a little bit of trial and error and common sense – you can use a lighter or match to melt the end of the stick as it drips onto the page, or you can hold the wax stick over a candle while rotating wax stick so the melted wax doesn’t drip in, then rub the melty part onto the page. I’ll try to do a how-to post over the next bit, but it does come down to a little practice, getting a feel for how much wax you need, and how long to wait before pressing in the seal.
In the colours of supple sealing wax, we are currently offering this midnight blue (my favourite!), burgundy, ivory and gold. You can purchase an individual stick or a full box of four here. We’re hoping to carry a few more colours of the supple wax in the next little while.
In my current daily life involving diapers, mashing bits of food that apparently aren’t tasty, and trying to keep the dog from licking the baby, playing around with sealing wax was one of the highlights of my day. Here is one of many possible combinations of mixed wax – ivory and gold.
This is just another way to add a bit of old world to your letter writing, a bit of flourish and thoughtfulness. To take the time to write to a friend, to create a wax seal, to take a walk to the post office – this is just a way to pause in our lives and say hello.