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Sealing Wax, Wafers, & Folding

Sealing letters using wax, seal, and wafer

Postage was determined by letter weight and distance travelled, so crosswriting kept letters to one sheet. Envelopes weren’t used until the Victorian era, so letters of the Georgian era were folded and sealed.

There were several folding methods, each requiring the letter be tucked into itself to maintain its integrity (and privacy) during travel. Once folded, two ways to seal the letter were wax or wafer.

Wax was expensive, but the most secure method and displayed the identity of the sender. To seal with wax, light the stick and angle it over the letter’s fold to allow the melting wax to drip. Let it drip in a circle since the stamp is circular. It takes time for the wax to drip, so be patient. In my experience, it takes about 6-10 drips.

Immediately press the stamp into the wax, and let it sit for 20 seconds. Tug free the stamp, and everything is ready! The wax dries quite quickly. Our heroes would have used their signet ring to press into the wax rather than a stamp. The signet ring was as powerful as one’s signature, so a hero would never let it out of his sight or off his finger.

The wafer was the “cheap” option. This was NOT a sticker. This was a circular paste that became adhesive if wet. It was made primarily of flour, eggs, and yeast.

Interestingly, a wafer would be used to seal a letter by being adhered from under the letter flap rather than over the flap, as is the case with wax. The majority of letters written in the Georgian era would have had wafers for seal. Only the hoity toity would have used wax.

This is a fantastic follow-along folding guide. Not to be missed!

Note and Wish: Regency Era Letter Folding Tutorial, Jane Austen Style

Jane Austen UK: Sealing Your Letters Like a Georgian

Her Reputation for Accomplishment: Sealing with Wafers

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