Sealing the Document

The wax seal is the final part of a replica medieval document and among ways of closing a letter, it is unique. It allows the reader to instantly know whether another has tampered with the letter--indeed, some might say it was the wax seal's function--and the seal itself often bears a distinctive emblem or symbol specific to the sender.

Sealing wax comes in a plethora of colors unavailable to those sending letters in the Middle Ages, including metallics; wax seal stamps have just as many, if not more, designs. Your local craft store should stock both and, if they don't have what you're looking for, a card store such as Hallmark might. Online retailers assuredly will.

If you created a sheet of leathery paper using balsamic vinegar, as the Vinegar Method demonstrates, this guide will show you how to fold it up into a leather envelope in which you may enclose your letter.

You will need:

Without the leather sheet:

  1. Fold the bottom of your letter a quarter of the way up the whole page.
  2. Fold the top of your letter a third of the way down the whole page. The top flap should overlap the bottom flap.
  3. Light the wick on a stick of sealing wax and hold it over the center of where the flaps meet. Keep the flame upraised at a 35-45° angle to avoid sending black, wavy lines through your seal.
  4. Allow the wax to drip onto the center until the glob is about the size of a nickel. The size and shape of this glob will depend on the size and shape of your stamp, but ensure that there will be a small border around the stamp when you press down.
  5. Quickly press the stamp into the center of the seal. Do not twist the stamp or you will mar the imprint.
  6. Hold your letter down with one hand and lift the stamp from the wax with the other hand.
  7. Allow the wax to dry for about 10 seconds.

With the leather sheet:

  1. Fold your letter into thirds.
  2. Place the letter on the center of the leather paper. Make sure the letter has part of the leather paper around all of its sides, as if you were wrapping a gift.
  3. Fold the top and bottom of the leather paper over the sides of the letter. These will be the left and right flaps of the envelope.
  4. Keeping the other flaps against the letter, fold the remaining flaps over the letter, bottom first. The top flap should overlap the bottom and should end at the envelope's center.
  5. Light the wick on a stick of sealing wax and hold it over the center of where the flaps meet. Keep the flame upraised at a 35-45° angle to avoid sending black, wavy lines through your seal.
  6. Allow the wax to drip onto the center until the glob is about the size of a nickel. The size and shape of this glob will depend on the size and shape of your stamp, but ensure that there will be a small border around the stamp when you press down.
  7. Quickly press the stamp into the center of the seal. Do not twist the stamp or you will mar the imprint.
  8. Hold your letter down with one hand and lift the stamp from the wax with the other hand.
  9. Allow the wax to dry for about 10 seconds.
A parchment letter sealed inside a leather envelope, ready for delivery.

Envelope or no, your letter should look authentic and age-worn--a handcrafted gift that will surely impress your lord or lady. Huzzah!

If you get hooked on wax seals, a talented jeweler can even create a custom signet ring to use as your personal seal. They aren't cheap, but it's worth considering.