Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sometimes wax seals don't even survive inside the envelope

Wax seal crumbled inside envelope

This letter made a rattling sound when I took it out of my mailbox. It sounded like it was filled with little sprinkles, or large confetti. So I used caution when I opened it (note: I LOATHE loose glitter that goes all over everywhere! My cats try to eat it and that's really bad for them), and discovered that the wax seal inside the envelope had crumbled.

Even inside the envelope, this wax seal didn't survive

In case you can't tell, in these photos I'm holding open the envelope after just opening it. I wanted to photograph the little wax bits before I dumped them down the trash. I guess this seal was of the more brittle sort of wax. I'm sure it was very pretty there on the ribbon... but sadly ironic that a seal put inside the envelope, to keep it safe during mailing, still didn't make it intact.


  1. It's time for us to invent a new postal sorting machine with soft foam (Tempurpedic?) rollers. I even get plain-old postcards that are all torn up by the machines, so I'm not surprised that sealing wax doesn't make it through.

  2. I've seen this too many times :( I haven't seen a brittle wax seal yet that'll survive the modern mail machines. A good rule of thumb, if you're mailing it, use supple wax! Otherwise you're just going to leave a mess for your recipient (case and point!). It's sad because I'm sure it was very pretty before it was mailed.

  3. The USPS machinable mail guidelines say that items have to survive being wrapped around an 11 inch diameter cylinder with 40 lbs. of pressure; like Brian I've yet to see a brittle wax that will make it through that ordeal.

    On certain types of postcards (including, unfortunately, the ones given out for free by my favorite bar) there's evidence of the card being gripped on the right side of the address, and the paper peels off in horizontal strips to the left across the address. I've been experimenting with running a thin bead of PVA down that edge to see whether that makes them more machine-resistant.

  4. I once sent a sealed letter to a friend, in double envelopes like the one you received. He told me later he had just been reading about ancient funerary rites when he got my letter, so when he saw what seemed to be (powdered) red ochre in the bottom of the envelope, he caught himself wondering if the letter would tell him someone had died.