For all you history buffs, here is a brief history of how sealing wax came to be. Before envelopes, there was wax letter seals.
In 2000 BC, the Babylonians wrapped their clay letter tablets in another piece of clay that they then fired. This outer layer had to be broken to be able to read the letter.
When papyri were used we think they were rolled, but were they sealed?
Envelopes as we know them were introduced in the 16th century, a hand-made means for official letters to be sent ‘under cover’.
There was not widespread use of these envelopes from the 16th century to the late 19th century as the hand-made paper was very expensive, unattainable for most of the general population. Seals were first and primarily used by kings and governments. New laws and proclamations required the authoritative stamp of a seal. Every inch of a sheet was utilized, writing across the page and often down the margins. The sheet was then folded and sealed with wax sometimes impressed with a personal picture or design- an initial, a coat of arms or the like. The wax was usually red in colour although sometimes black.
During Medieval times, almost everyone had their own seal, however royalty would possess several seals for their courts and officials and their own ‘Great Seal’.
Another common use of the seal in yesteryear was for proclamations of love. Long ago, betrothals were pre-arranged. True words of love were secretly written and the envelope’s contents were secured by a wax seal, so the recipient could be assured that their passion would be unknown to others. A broken seal implied broken trust….and no person of integrity would tamper with a wax emblem.
Fast forward to present day. Seals and sealing wax have experienced much change in the years and a resurgence of popularity, with use today in innumerable applications.
Wax is trendy – who knew?