- Sealing wax
Sealing wax is a material which, after melting, quickly hardens (to paper, parchment, ribbons and wire, and other material) forming a bond that cannot be separated without noticeable tampering. Wax is used to verify something such as a document is unopened, to verify the sender's identity, for example with a signet ring, and as decoration. Sealing wax can be used to take impressions of other seals. It can be used to create a
hermetic sealon containers. Wax was used to seal " letters close" and later (from about the 16th century) envelopes. (Before sealing wax, the Romans used bitumenfor this purpose.)
Recipes vary, but there is a major shift after European trade with the Indies opened. In the
Middle Agessealing wax was typically made of beeswaxand "Venice turpentine", a greenish-yellow resinous extract of the European Larchtree. The earliest such wax was uncoloured, somewhat later the wax was coloured red with vermilion. From the 16th century it instead was compounded from a mixture of various proportions of shellac, turpentine, resin, chalkor plaster, and colouring matter (often still vermilion, or else red lead), but not necessarily beeswax. The proportion of chalk varied; coarser grades are used to seal wine bottles and preserves, finer grades for documents. In some situations, such as large seals on public documents, beeswax was actually used. On occasion, sealing wax has historically been perfumed by ambergris, musk and other scents. [cite book|author=Tomlinson, C., ed.|title= Tomlinson's Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts|year=1866|publisher=Virtue & Co|location=London Vol II, page 495.]
By 1866 many colors were available: gold (using mica), blue (using
smaltor verditer), black (using lamp black), white (using lead white), yellow (using trupeth mineral), green (using verdigris) and so on. Some users such as the British Crown assigned different colours to different types of documents. Today a range of synthetic colours is available.
Sealing wax is available in the form of sticks, sometimes with a wick, or as granules. The stick is melted at one end (but not ignited or blackened), or the granules heated in a spoon, normally using a flame, and then placed where required, usually on the flap of an envelope. While the wax is still soft, the seal (being preferably at the same temperature as the wax, for the best impression) should be quickly pressed into it and released. [cite book|author=Tomlinson, C., ed.|title=
Tomlinson's Cyclopaedia of Useful Arts|year=1866|publisher=Virtue & Co|location=London Vol II, page 495.]
Modern day has brought sealing wax to a new level of use and application.
There are traditional sealing wax candles still produced in France and Scotland, using similar formulas as those in the days of hand-carried correspondence.
Since the advent of a postal system, the use of sealing wax has become more for ceremony than security.
Modern times have required new styles of wax to be created, allowing for mailing of the seal without damage or removal.
These new waxes are flexible for mailing and are referred to as glue gun sealing wax, faux sealing wax, and flexible sealing wax.
* [http://letterseals.com/HowtouseSealingWax.aspx LetterSeals.com] Quoted source for modern sealing waxes.
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