Everyone knows the feeling of importance that comes from receiving a hand written letter– especially when decoratively sealed with a specially chosen seal and wax. In Jane Austen’s time, the wax was even sometimes used to hide a coin to pay the postman (thereby costing the recipient nothing; postage was originally paid by the receiver). Traditionally, sealing wax was used to not only seal the letter against tampering, but also to identify the sender, as people maintained personal and family seals for the purpose. The idea of using a personal seal for identification dates from the earliest civilizations and survives today in the form of rubber stamps and embossers. Still, there is nothing quite like a wax seal for adding a bit of Regency elegance to your notes and letters. A pile of sealed letters. Painting Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts (1665). The Jane Austen Centre giftshop sells personalized sets of seals and sealing wax in the traditional style, a stick of red wax with a wick. When lit, the flame melts the wax, which is then dripped onto the portion of the letter to receive the seal, before stamping in the pattern with a small metal seal. The whole process is, to a novice, a bit tricky and the results are not always quite as perfect as one would hope. The Jane Austen Centre’s seal and wax set is available in the giftshop. I recently received a wedding invitation with just such a seal attached. Considering the tediousness of this exercise (more…)
Become a Jane Austen Member
Membership is completely free….
- A welcome 10% off voucher to spend in our giftshop
- Full access to our online magazine of articles about Jane Austen
- Regular new stories
- Giftshop special offers and new products
- Our very popular an entertaining quiz