Wax Seals - An Important Part of Envelope History

Way before envelopes were sealed with that unpleasant tasting glue, there were wax seals. Letter writers would seal their envelopes by melting wax onto the flap of the envelope and stamping a seal into the hot wax. When dry, the wax would ensure that the contents of the envelope were sealed inside and that only the intended recipient could break the seal and retrieve the letter. The seal imprinted in the wax acts as a sort of verification as to who sent the letter.


The origins of using a seal to stamp documents dates back way before the invention of paper. Cylinder seals were used in areas of the world like Mesopotamia to sign clay tablets as a form of authentication. Fast forward a couple hundred years to the Middle Ages when paper was available. People in positions of power like royals, monarchs and bishops were all instilled with an official seal. They would sign contracts, agreements and letters with this seal; which many times could be in place of someone's actual signature. [caption id="attachment_3425" align="aligncenter" width="400"]81 wax seals attached letter sent by English noblemen to Pope Clement VII 81 wax seals attached letter sent by English noblemen to Pope Clement VII[/caption]

Seals for Letter Writing

During the Middle Ages, the need to grow and expand was at its peek. New colonies and civilizations were established, and written communication was done solely through letter writing. Wax seals were used for keeping communication confidential. If a seal was broken by the time the letter arrived to its destination, the recipient would know it was tampered with. Wax seals were also practical too. Way before the invention of pre-gummed envelopes, wax seals were the only way to properly close a letter to keep its contents secure.

Present Day

In this day and age wax seals are used for more of a decorative accent to invitations than they are for royal documents. Wedding invitations can be sealed with a decorative wax seal to give them a unique and classic appearance. While the traditional wax used was red or black, they now come in a wide array of colors and textures.

Bronze colored wax seal on a black envelope

Although some may have  an authentic seal with a family crest past down to them as a family heirloom, today wax seals are often sold as prepackaged kits with decorative letters as the seal. Check out our selection of wax seal kits. They are available in every letter of the alphabet and have seven different wax stick colors to choose from.Home wax seal kit


Copyrights © 2023, Jam Paper & Envelope. All rights reserved.