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And Then I Fell Into a Cauldron of Sealing Wax

When I was a kid, my Big Sis™ had a sealing wax kit. It was this Hallmark affair with one color of wax—red—one handle, and 40 or so stamps. It had one for each letter, one each for the Zodiac symbols, and maybe numbers, too. I don’t remember for sure.

I coveted it. In fact—and don’t tell my sister—I plotted how to convert it from “her sealing wax kit” to “my sealing wax kit.” The joke was on me, however, because I’m fairly certain it was sacrificed in one of mom’s periodic purges-of-everyone-else’s-stuff.

I went looking for an example for this article, but only found individual letters like the letter H below.

Hallmark Letter H Wax Seal Stamp on Ebay
Hallmark Letter H Wax Seal Stamp on Ebay

Past is Prologue

Here’s the thing: in this age of instant communications and social media there’s a renaissance happening with sealing wax. From hand-written letters to packages to wedding invitations, sealing wax is a thing.

I got dragged into this when my friend Nik Pang—a calligrapher and fountain pen enthusiast—got me into fountain pens a few months ago. The fucker started with a dip pen and then showed me this gorgeous Parker 50 fountain pen from the 1960s.

So, I did what any man would do and wrote my girl a letter with the dip pen. And, having this letter, why not seal it with wax? And then before I can even so much as say how-do-you-do, I’m all completely obsessed with sealing wax and stamps.

Thanks, Nik. Fucker.

Folks Seem to Like Sealing Wax

And it turns out I’m not the only one, not by a long shot. This lovely calligrapher named Moya has hundreds of thousands of views on some of her sealing wax videos on Instagram, like this gorgeous video with 292,000 views. There are so many more on Instagram, too. Check out #sealingwax and #sealingwaxstamp.

It made me want to post my own, so I played around with this amazing spiral stamp from Jax Classix (website, Instagram). I love their resin handles, and their spiral (below) really speaks to me. They also make their own wax—it looks great, but I haven’t tested it yet.

A few of my favorite things: Parker 50, #waxseal and #waxsealstamp from @jaxclassics, and a letter.

A post shared by Bryan Chaffin (@geektells) on

Then I found a Hong Kong company called Back to Zero (website, Instagram). They make wax and a huge array of stamps—initials, patterns, animals, symbols, and everything else under the sun. Just compare that Hallmark stamp from the ~1970s to anything Back to Zero is doing.

Here’s a love letter L from their Linen & Leaf calligraphy series. It’s a night and day comparison. The quality of Back to Zero’s machining is nothing less than outstanding.

Letter L Wax Seal Stamp from Back to Zero.
Letter L Wax Seal Stamp from Back to Zero.

My Own Wax Steal Stamps

Once again, I reacted like any red blooded American male and ordered a bunch of wax and a proper melting spoon from the company.

Yeah…I may have a problem. ? New #sealingwax from @backtozeroco.

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Funny thing, though. That girl I mentioned? She sent me a letter B and some Metallic Blue wax I like even more than the gorgeous waxes I chose above. And then I saw that pros like Moya brush metallic ink and/or paint on their designs. Like any other red blooded American male, I marched down to the art store and got myself a couple of paint pens.

Lots of test stamps later like the ones at the top of this blog post—and you wouldn’t believe how I folded this letter—and I was made this video:

That one really took off for me, blowing up my Instagram notifications with more than 22,000 views and bringing me a ton of followers. Which, I have to to say, it super awesome fun.

Anachronisms and Hand-Written Letters

I’ve always loved anachronisms. Fountain pens (come on, and dip pens!) and sealing wax are merely the most recent anachronisms I’ve grabbed hold of. From archaic words, to 2-stroke Vespas, to mechanical watches, to stories from the depths of history, I just love things with little relevance to modern life.

And the best thing is that it has me writing letters. Real letters. With those pens and some lovely parchment stationary. There’s something magical about real letters, and if the desire to seal them is what gets me writing, giddy up. I even wrote a letter to my mom. Hi, mom. 🙂

One last note: I showed a bunch of family and friends some of my seals. It’s kind of what I do when I get obsessed. I was surprised by how many of them indicated their own interest, and then went on to actually order some stuff. There’s something satisfying and captivating about wax seals, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

7 Responses

  1. Ooh, thank you for the links! Time to go shopping. (I found you through Inkophile as well.)

    I have used an ink pad to stamp the seal on first, before pressing it into the hot wax. I’ve never thought about paining the finished seal, though! Neat idea.

  2. Nicole, I’ve seen ink pads brushed on after the pressing, and applied to the stamp beforehand, too. Using a paint pen seemed a tad easier and offered more control, too. Sort of, at least—I’ve had some splotches in my testing. 🙂

    Either way, thanks for stopping by, and thanks doubly for leaving a note.

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