Tag Archives: Letter writing

J. Herbin Wax Seals – Supple Wax and Brass Seals

J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada  J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

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.

J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

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.

J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

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.

J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

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.

J. Herbin Brass Seals

J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

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 hereWe’re hoping to carry a few more colours of the supple wax in the next little while.

J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

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.
  J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Brass Seals at wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada


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.

Inspiration for Letter Writing – Letters of Note

We’ve made it halfway through International Correspondence Writing Month, and in case you needed some inspiration, I thought I would give you a closer look at the marvelous Letters of Note book, compiled by Shaun Usher. Who would’ve thought I’d leave the world of teaching and book reports, only to write my own…


This big beautiful book is really a must-have for any letter writer, snail mailer or lover of the handwritten note. It has funny, tragic, love, inspirational, historical letters of all sorts. I admit, I skipped over a few letters that were pages long, but there’s enough in here to just browse through for hours again and again.

And of course, how you address the envelope before you send it out is critical. It’s the first impression that begs the reader to open this before all the junk mail and bills.

Letters of Note

Agh! What could be more important than a letter to a Top Scientist – and marked Urgent!

I’ve long been trying to convince Jon we need some custom letterhead. For equally long, Jon has been trying to convince me that I should just make up for not having custom letterhead with my words of wisdom. If only we lived in the Life Aquatic, and Bill Murray could hand me a box of my own stationery…

Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher

This AmericanAirlines stationery is enough to make me want to take a trip just to fly on a plane where I can write a letter to someone indicating my altitude and location. Obviously I would be flying to Madagascar or the Galapagos or somewhere exotic.

However, let’s be honest, if I’m going to commission a custom letterhead, I am going to take my inspiration from Annie Oakley. Yes, my letterhead really does need to be half the page.


I guess I have a soft spot for these letters written by kids. They’re hilarious. It’s even more hilarious when the famous folk write back. In all seriousness, especially as e-mail and electronic communication are so pervasive, these letters are so precious.


There is nothing that can beat this letter from Samuel Barber to his mother, explaining that he was not meant to be a footballer, but indeed, a composer. “Don’t ask me to forget this unpleasant thing and go play football”. 


So whether you’re cup-of-tea-and-pen-at-the-ready, or you’re slogging through the month of letters, we’re more than halfway to the end! If you do manage to find a copy of the book at your local library or bookshop, or if you go online and see some of the bloggers and fellow fountain pen users who are taking part in this month of correspondence, I hope you find some inspiration.

InCoWriMo – International Correspondence Writing Month

Calligraphy & Lettering Uppercase Magazine Issue 23

This beautifully addressed envelope is from the Calligraphy and Lettering Issue of Uppercase Magazine

Now that you’ve been inspired by National Handwriting Day (January 23rd) to get writing again, International Correspondence Writing Month is the perfect opportunity to put those chops to good use.

The InCoWriMo challenge is to write a letter a day for the entire month of February. You can find more details here, but the gist of it is to get writing – once a day.

Here are some tips to get you through the month.

1. Get all set up! Find your paper and envelopes and some of your favourite pens or pencils and get it all together on your desk. Consider using some correspondence stationery that shows the thought you’ve put into the letter you’re writing, but some of the world’s most famous letters were scribbled on paper ripped out of a notebook.

photo-282. Check out your local Canada Post or post office for some cool stamps! I am loving these Year of the Ram stamps recently released, but they also have some older releases available that you might like. My favourites include these international stamps and these 63 cent stamps. It’s also nice to say hello to your local post office folks and appreciate what they do.

3. Take the time to create a list of people and collect some addresses before you begin – there’s nothing more frustrating than writing a letter and then spending several minutes (or more!) hunting for an address that you may not find. Having your list handy will mean as soon as you’re done, you can stamp and address your envelope with a sense of satisfaction!

4. Some people to consider writing to include:
– The obvious friends and family
– An old colleague
– A teacher from your childhood or professor from college
– Your local councilman or politician, appreciating what they have done
– Local businesses that you patronize
– Your spouse or significant other, sent to their workplace
– Your favourite (still living) author – try writing to their publisher
– Your local library
– A charity that has meaning to you
– Your favourite bloggers may have an address or PO box listed – sometimes it’s nice for them to receive encouragement since they write and write, but don’t necessarily hear back from their readers!

5. Go to your local bookshop or library and browse through a copy of Letters of Note. This collection of funny, touching, bizarre and historical letters written throughout time will surely inspire. While I love being able to flip through the pages and see the writing and descriptions of the circumstances of each letter, if you can’t get your hands on a physical copy, you can browse through their website, lettersofnote.com, to get some ideas.

Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher

A letter from Elvis to US President Richard Nixon on that excellent American Airlines stationery – you write while on a flight, and you can indicate your altitude and location! From Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher

6. Take it easy and enjoy yourself! Don’t worry if you miss a day or two or more. Even if you end up only writing a few letters, the important part is to connect or re-connect with people who mean something to you, your community or the world in which we all live.

7. Write to us! We are here at:
Wonder Pens – Liz or Jon Chan (preferably me, but Jon says I have to say preferably Jon)
906 Dundas Street W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1W1 Canada

*Fun fact: on our first trip away from Super (the family dog), I wrote him a postcard from Mongolia.