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The History of Wax Seals and Sealing Wax

The History of Wax Seals and Sealing Wax

Posted by ARTISAIRE on 2020 Oct 16th

Wax seals add an undeniably elegant touch to your letters, cards, and other written correspondence. These seals evoke images of regal kings and beautiful handwritten letters. While these figures are certainly a part of the evolution of wax seals, there’s a lot more you can learn about these tools. From authenticating clay tablets in the Bronze Age to putting the final touches on your craft projects today, here’s a rundown of the history of wax seals and sealing wax.

Pre-Pen and Paper

The original version of wax seals dates back to early civilizations in the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia—meaning they’re even older than pen and paper! These early seals didn’t actually use wax. Instead, people used rings or cylinders to press their seals into clay tablets. However, these seals still created a touch of authenticity and authority for the writings they accompanied.

The Introduction of Wax

Wax seals as we know them became more common in the Middle Ages. This is when monarchs, bishops, and other significant figures began using wax to press their seal onto documents to authenticate them. These seals came in the form of handheld signets or specially made rings that were unique to the bearer. Over time, wax seals became more commonplace as aristocrats and even common folk started using them. Illiteracy was common during this time, so many people used wax seals in place of a signature. In addition to authenticating a document, these seals also ensured the security of your writing. If one received a letter with a broken seal, they would know someone had read or tampered with the document.

Postage Costs

Wax seals saw another boost in popularity in the mid-19th century, when postage services began charging for the number of papers sent rather than just the letter’s weight. As a result, it was cheaper to seal a letter and send it as-is instead of putting it in an envelope. This lasted until the mid-20th century, when postal reform and pre-gummed envelopes made it cheaper and easier to send letters without a wax seal.

Today, the history of wax seals and sealing wax lives on in handwritten letters, formal invitations, and other forms of correspondence that call for a touch of something extra. You can add your own personal calling card on the notes you send by purchasing a beautiful wax seal from Artisaire. Whether you want your document to stand out or you just want to add a little fun to the lost art of letter writing, wax seals make the perfect addition to any messages you send.