Aug. 22, 2021

37. Wax Seals Revisited

37. Wax Seals Revisited

In today’s episode, we will be talking all about the newest postal bulletin and wax seals


Evan - SLC 2002 Olympic Fountain Pen

NPR’s Life Kit did an episode on writing a letter

New regional postmarks, including one in PR

J.Herbin Wax seal ink pads

Global Solutions Metallic White Shimmer Stamp Pad

Stick wax

Glue gun wax - especially clear wax

Wax beads -Melting spoons - Melting furnaces

DexterRings -from the UK

Regnas - from Thailand

Support the show (



37 Wax Seals Revisited

[00:00:00] John: Welcome to episode 37 of stationery orbit, where we're all here to learn more about creative letter writing. I'm your host John West, and I'm joined by our cohost Evan Harris. And in today's episode, we'll be talking about the newest postal bulletin and wax seals. So it, good morning, Evan. I understand you've got a new acquisition.

[00:00:16] Evan: That I do, as many people know, I now live in a place basically only accessible by ski and posts. However, within skiing distance are some of the locations for the 2002 Olympics. 

[00:00:28] John: Yep.

[00:00:29] Evan: And I found on eBay that they made 2002 Olympic fountain pens. So for a quite reasonable price, I managed to get one of these pens.

And so it's a rather light pen, but along the body there's a metal kind of barrel on the outside. And in that. 

[00:00:46] John: They have the various logos for the events. 

[00:00:49] Evan: Yeah.

the various pictographs for the events and the low doses, salt lake, 2001. 

[00:00:55] John: Nice. Any idea who the maker is?

[00:00:58] Evan: I have no who the maker is. It came with [00:01:00] both a roller ball tip and a fountain pen section.

The nib is an Iridium point, Germany nib, which the only accurate part of that is that there is a point. The I'm not sure if it's the number five or six. Somebody sent me a spare nib they had a, so that I should find out today. Later today, hopefully I'll have a nice nib cause this really cheap steel nip on this really neat body doesn't work.

If it is?

a number sits, I have plenty of options for nibs to get. 

[00:01:27] John: Is that a Jowo style nib. 

[00:01:29] Evan: It's friction fit. 

[00:01:30] John: Okay. 

[00:01:30] Evan: That's one of the ones where it's not quite circular feed, there's a flat section on the bottom, but 

[00:01:37] John: Best of luck with that. Yeah, that's a neat looking pen. It'll be nice. If you can get a good nib in it.

[00:01:43] Evan: Yeah. I'm a big fan of the Olympics. So when I saw that for the ones that live closest to. 

[00:01:49] John: The 2002 Olympics was definitely an interesting event coming up on 20 years. 

[00:01:55] Evan: That's correct. 

[00:01:56] John: And you said you found that on eBay?

[00:01:59] Evan: I found that on [00:02:00] eBay, there's a lot of Olympic stuff on eBay?

You can find real metals as well. 

[00:02:05] John: Oh, that's not good. anyway you had in the show notes here that you had seen something on NPRs life kit.

[00:02:12] Evan: That's right. So is life kit.

As another podcast and they did an episode on how to write letters. 

[00:02:20] John: Nice. Any good information? 

[00:02:22] Evan: Not, I'm not just hitting, we haven't really discussed . 

[00:02:25] John: We've got a new postal bulletin out and the Order in this, one's a little bit different because they've got a great big semi-annual index at the end of it. The postmark information is back in under organizational information and a little bit different spot than I think most of us are used to seeing it in.

And they've got some new black and white postmarks in there that are regional postmarks, including one for Ginny Fest out of Burbank, California. One for the Centro unite station and that's in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which [00:03:00] I don't think I've ever seen a Puerto Rican post. 

[00:03:02] Evan: I want to say I have once maybe before, but they're not that common. And based on my monoglottal model, use of Google translate I believe it is for the hundred 30th anniversary of them.

[00:03:14] John: Okay. Yeah. It seems to be for the, that particular station with a 230th anniversary, but yeah, it's definitely neat to see something coming out of Puerto Rico and then , for all of the kids that wanted to grow up to be firefighters, there is one out of Yurik Missouri, and it's got a firetruck on it. What was that last one? It's a Alaska state fair, but it almost looks like a Yeti. 

[00:03:43] Evan: I do think that is a big footer, a Yeti on the Alaska state fair, a full station postmark presented by the Anchorage society.

[00:03:54] John: Somebody with a sense of humor up there. All right. Good to know. [00:04:00] All right. 

[00:04:02] Evan: All there is one new color postmarked by the way 

[00:04:05] John: Oh, really? Okay. 

[00:04:06] Evan: it is for the first day of issue message monster stamps. 

[00:04:10] John: Oh 

[00:04:10] Evan: small postmark cute. We've discussed these stamps in the past and think that they really should have had, Hey Matthew design.

[00:04:18] John: absolutely. Yeah. And his monsters are definitely the best. 

[00:04:23] Evan: Yeah, but starting September 24th, you can get these stamps in the post.

[00:04:28] John: Excellent. Yeah.

And so one of the big things that we want to talk about in today's episode are wax seals and some of the different varieties of stuff. I did a wax seal primer as I was launching stationery orbit, and I had some really basic information in there, but in the year, Plus since I started the podcast, there's definitely been some different stuff.

That's come out some different stuff. That's definitely coming to my attention, different applications, styles, different wax styles that I was not really [00:05:00] aware of when I did the wax seal primer. So wanted to go over that again and talk about how we use wax seals and some of the new wax seals that are out on the market or some new vendors that I was not aware of before. So I understand the Evan that you've got to wax seals. 

[00:05:18] Evan: Oh, that's right. I've got one custom designed. One that I got from one of the people in the show notes back to zero . That is my personally assumed coat of arms because what seals and heraldry the study of coat of arms are intrinsically linked through history, in my opinion and the others just.

[00:05:36] John: it's not a matter of opinion. This was something that it was a sign of your station in a lot of cases to the point where when a king died or the Pope died, their chancellors or their their court would go and find their wax seal, the signet ring and destroy it so that someone else couldn't use it. 

[00:05:58] Evan: they still do that for the Pope [00:06:00] last night. 

[00:06:02] John: Yeah. I think that they, I think that they just strike it through the, instead of fully destroying it, but,

yeah, they do deface it. 

[00:06:08] Evan: But theoretically wet seals were started before wax and before writing in prehistory and Mesopotamia and the Indus valley using designs into clay. But heraldry itself didn't really start till the middle ages. That's right. They are separate, but they are very linked

[00:06:27] John: Yeah. Just because, when you were dealing with heraldry, you're dealing with noble families and they had to make sure that everyone knew where their station was higher than your station down in the dirt. 

[00:06:40] Evan: correct.

[00:06:42] John: Yep. Very important. As Evan pointed out one of the big things that really has gotten onto my radar since I started the podcast is custom wax seals.

And a lot of this is because the wax seal makers in the past ended up having to use. [00:07:00] Forms and like sand forms and those kinds of things. And they were actually pouring brass into the wax forms. And now they've actually got Laser etching systems on these, where it is so much easier to create these custom wax seals. 

[00:07:16] Evan: Laser etching and CNC engraving as well.

[00:07:18] John: Okay. And CNC engraving yeah. And I know that for Jonathan Brooks and I've got a link in the show notes for Jonathan's custom seal ordering, and I know that he's doing his with a laser etching device, 

but do you have any idea how back to zero does 

[00:07:35] Evan: I think back to zero uses CNC engraving. 

So a very small CNC mill basically.

[00:07:42] John: Yep. And so yeah, you've got those that are out there now for the wax seals. To me, it was an interesting little. Event when I had my wax seal done is when I had the logo made for stationery orbit. I wanted it to be basic [00:08:00] enough that when it showed up in one of the little icons like up in the web browser, that it would be recognizable.

And it turned out that particular design decision. Works really well for when you're talking about putting it into a wax seal, you want to make sure that it is big enough and recognizable at a lower resolution because the wax seal isn't going to capture really close detail. It's just the way that particular thing works.

But yeah, it was the wax seal turned out really nice. For mine. And that was part of that was because Jonathan put a lot of time into it. 

[00:08:39] Evan: Yeah. You can get, they're very intricate, wax seals, but to get them done properly requires a lot of time and effort in manufacturing. The seal itself.

[00:08:50] John: Yep. And so one of the links that I put in the show notes is another thing that I've found since the. I believe since the wax [00:09:00] primer is these metallic ink pads that you can use when you're doing the seal, you actually have the seal cold and you dip it into one of the. Ink pads that has a metallic ink on it. And then you seal the wax and it actually creates a metallic surface on the flattened portion. And then the intaglio portion, the actual engraving takes the wax color to it. And it's a really neat way to do a wax seal.

So I actually found I know J. Herbin had a wow. Seal ink pad. And it turns out that Vanness pens has a new vendor called global solutions and they do a lot of different seal stuff and they also have a metallic wax seal, pad for that

[00:09:56] Evan: So I've actually tried doing this with not using a little [00:10:00] pad. I've tried doing this and didn't work quite as well with a like a metallic marker pen. So I drew on the seal and then stamped and uh, worked decently, but not incredibly well.

[00:10:12] John: Yeah, I actually think when you do that, it ends up being a reverse. Of what you'd get with the ink pad. 

[00:10:21] Evan: that's effectively. Correct. Which is part of why? I think he didn't like it as much. I think I should go with the get some of these ink pads.

[00:10:28] John: Yeah. The ink pads.

are neat. You do have to be, like I said, you gotta be careful that the wax seal is completely Cold when you apply it. But yeah, it does work very

[00:10:38] Evan: Cold wet using a cold wet seal will help you get a better impression anyway, as well as a better removal.

[00:10:46] John: Correct. Yeah. You want it to be able to sit there for just long enough for the wax to set up and then be able to pull it and not pull the wax up with it. 

[00:10:56] Evan: And that's part of why it's brass. Both because brass is an easy to work with [00:11:00] material and it has very good thermal conduct too. So that it will pull the heat out. The thermodynamics. This may get mad at me, but we'll pull the heat out of the wax and let the wet set quickly so that you maintain the shape you want and also is low porosity so that you're not getting wax seeping into the brass seal.

[00:11:22] John: right.. And you would take a look at the different kind of designs that are out there that are on the market. You had mentioned that you'd gotten a custom seal from back to zero and looking through their website. Oh goodness. They've got a different Zodiacs. They've got a tarot style.

They've got something that I had not seen a lot before, but they have signet pin necklaces. And 

that was 

[00:11:50] Evan: those, I think are pretty new Back to Zero is always adding new ways to do wax seals, but they also recently added cuff links, I love the idea of. 

I [00:12:00] might have to get some of those.

[00:12:02] John: yeah. I have seen cufflinks before. I had not seen necklaces before. And then of course, signet rings are an established tradition. For that. And it looks like a lot of the stuff that they do on their custom stuff ends up being like custom lettering, custom calligraphy, but you can also do custom designs, like what you had done with your heraldry.

There we 

[00:12:26] Evan: yeah. Exactly. They do a lot of great stuff. The only hesitation I'd have with , working with them right now is that they're based in Hong Kong and global shipping is a slow.

[00:12:40] John: Okay. Yeah. And to fix that at least partially Jonathan Brooks, if you want a custom seal, he's based out of South Carolina and then there's also letter seals and they're based out of Washington and they will also do custom seals. 

[00:12:56] Evan: Yeah, I, you've worked with Jonathan Brooks. I know he does tons of great [00:13:00] stuff. But I've not worked as far as wax seals go with either. But everything I've heard from both of them.

[00:13:07] John: Yeah. A letter seals. I did not get a custom seal from them, but I did get some different sealing supplies and that actually gets us into the next part of what I wanted to talk about is the various kinds of. Wax that you can get for doing the wax seals. And a lot of them.

are the newer material, the newer wax instead of the older shellacs style wax it's the newer, flexible stuff. The traditional stuff is going to be your stick wax. A lot of the stuff that is coming out on the market now are the wax beads and that you use melting spoons with or melting furnaces with. And then the newest version of it are the glue gun wax sticks. And the reason why I wanted to really note those is because if you wanted to do a clear impression.

For a wax seal. If you [00:14:00] wanted to do a wax seal over a flower or a wax seal over something else that you wanted to be able to see below it, the glue gun sticks are the only way I am aware of that. You can do Clear Wax. 

[00:14:11] Evan: I think I may have seen some translucent beads once, but I've never been able to find them for purchase.

[00:14:18] John: Yeah. And I've seen translucent beads used on some of the Instagram stuff, but I'm pretty sure that they cut down glue

sticks for that. 

[00:14:27] Evan: Very well. Maybe. I tend to use a the beads and the melting furnace , Cause I also let's see, get a marbled seal, which I like to look up.

[00:14:37] John: Yeah. And I've done that a few times and it's definitely a new way to do it. The thing I like about the melting furnaces is at least for me just cause I'm clumsy and I forget some things. Sometimes it's a lot safer for me than trying to number one, hold the spoon over the fire. And number two, it gives me somewhere to put the spoon back down so that I'm not [00:15:00] sitting at all.

A surface and burning it or picking it up.

Where you're not on the wooden handle or something like that and burning yourself, which I've done all of those things previous to getting a melting furnace. So highly recommend a melting furnace. And I'll put a link in the show notes to a couple of different varieties of melting furnaces in case you're interested in those. 

[00:15:21] Evan: Yeah, those are I would suggest them for basically the same reason.

[00:15:24] John: Yep. And actually one of the things I want to talk about in terms of the overseas stuff is one of the vendors that I put in my show notes for the wax seal primer is a Catherine Craft supply on Etsy. And I believe she is also out of Hong Kong in China and. One of the big things that I've had his feedback since then is how much intellectual property theft there is in China and even in Hong Kong.

And just [00:16:00] as a perfect example of that, I pulled up the Catherine Craft supply Etsy page. I was part of my prep for this today and they have one of these wax seals in here and it's called puppy wax seal stamp. And it's a perfect replication of Snoopy. 

[00:16:14] Evan: Yeah.

[00:16:15] John: I'm really torn by this dichotomy that.

You, you can go to overseas vendors in China and get really unique wax seals that you couldn't possibly get in the United States. But the reason why you couldn't possibly get them in the United States is that no one could possibly want. A Snoopy wax seal pay for the licensing deal with all of their lawyers and be able to make it at a, anything like an affordable cost.

I'm really torn. But between that of, do you want a really cool wax seal or do you want to enforce intellectual property law, which is so onerous in the Western state? 

[00:16:56] Evan: Yeah. From a personal standpoint, I would be more wary of getting Snoopy [00:17:00] where the Charles Schultz company it means it's large, but it is not owned by the mouse. And you can get unauthorized star wars and Harry Potter stamps on Amazon. And, but there are a lot of intellectual property, things like that are that are gray area dilemmas effectively.

[00:17:19] John: Okay. 

[00:17:21] Evan: Because I see a lot of like death star in Hogwarts seals that are for the prices are clearly not authorized.

[00:17:28] John: Yeah or you just end up seeing you'll see something that's authorized. And I've seen this exact example of a Deathstar design that is a licensed product that is not as good of an image as the one that is a gray market. One out of China and it, then you end up having to ask yourself what do I want to do here?

Do I want the cool version of this? Or do I want the legal version of this? And it's really hard hard thing to get your [00:18:00] head wrapped around. 

[00:18:01] Evan: no I would fully agree on that.

[00:18:03] John: Yeah, but you can go to the, Hong Kong vendors, you can go to the Chinese vendors and you will definitely find their selection is easily 10 times that of almost any American vendor because of that exact issue where they're able to produce images that no American vendor could probably produce.

So that's just the state. 

[00:18:27] Evan: Yeah. Exactly.

[00:18:28] John: One additional thing I did want to mention there are two different signet ring makers that I've seen and one of them. On Etsy out of Thailand. And I don't think you have to worry about any of the intellectual property issues. I think it's just a matter of where the signet rings are produced.

There's a signet ring producer in Thailand that is quite a bit cheaper than the one that is in England. The one in England I'd imagine. , probably decades of [00:19:00] history or possibly even centuries of history of that tradition of creating signet rings over there. I don't know exactly.

the background of the gentlemen in Thailand, but I'll make sure that I get links into the show notes for both of those signet ring makers.

And you can see for yourself the differences in the kind of materials that they work with, the kind of imagery that they create, but most starkly the difference in prices between the two 

[00:19:27] Evan: Yeah, one other thing I will say about signet rings. Having learned of this mistake from a friend who has one. Take it off before you try and make a seal.

[00:19:38] John: oh no wax burns. 

[00:19:40] Evan: Yes. Avoid wax burns wearing it on your finger. When you make a seal.

[00:19:46] John: Yeah. Yeah. I don't think I've ever seen anyone make that particular mistake in movies or reenactments. Yes.

Please follow the lead of the the Pope and take the ring off before you seal something with it.

[00:19:59] Evan: [00:20:00] Yes.

[00:20:00] John: That is everything we had to talk about today. We will be working on.

More letter locking stuff and more hopefully more interviews. I'm going to be going to the Colorado Penn posy meetup here this afternoon. So we'll see what we get out of that. And everyone have a nice two weeks.