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Thread: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

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    Senior Member jbb's Avatar
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    Default Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    I found a box of Victorian era paste, wafer seals! They were made of flour, water and pigments, dried into discs, and used to seal letters before the ultra-modern invention of gummed envelopes. You'd wet them and press them between the flaps of your letters. Often a waffle-pattern seal was used to press them together.

    Anybody have more information?

    Antique wafer seals by JBBJBB, on Flickr
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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Are they tasty?

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    I thought they were communion wafers for St. Valentine's Day.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Do they still work?
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Do they still work?
    Yes. They became sticky and spongy after I wet them with a drop of water. (I did not lick them, some of the pigments they might have used were toxic.) I put the wet wafer between two pieces of paper and then used my waffle seal to press the pages together. When they dried they made quite a strong seal.

    Wait for sale between two pieces of paper by JBBJBB, on Flickr

    Sealing wax seal with wafer pattern by JBBJBB, on Flickr
    Last edited by jbb; August 28th, 2021 at 05:07 AM.
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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    I actually think they are a brilliant idea. From the above photos, I can imagine how they could be used in place of a wax seal and effectively emboss an envelope.

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    ... I can imagine how they could be used in place of a wax seal and effectively emboss an envelope.
    And therefore more postal sorting machinery friendly.

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Exactly!

    And with that, it may be a product someone or some company might want to explore for a niche market. Etsy anyone?

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    ... I can imagine how they could be used in place of a wax seal and effectively emboss an envelope.
    And therefore more postal sorting machinery friendly.
    Exactly what I was thinking. It might actually arrive still in place on an envelope and that doesn't happen here with wax seals.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    I can't imagine that these would be difficult or expensive to make.

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    I can't imagine that these would be difficult or expensive to make.
    There are instructions in this book: Sealing-waxes, wafers, & other adhesives: for the household, office, workshop, and factory Hardcover – January 1, 1902
    by H. C. Standage (Author). https://www.amazon.com/Sealing-waxes.../dp/B000ZDMO7O
    JBBPensPaper an Etsy store

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    I can't imagine that these would be difficult or expensive to make.
    There are instructions in this book: Sealing-waxes, wafers, & other adhesives: for the household, office, workshop, and factory Hardcover – January 1, 1902
    by H. C. Standage (Author). https://www.amazon.com/Sealing-waxes.../dp/B000ZDMO7O
    Listed as unavailable.

    At a a guess, one could mix up some water. flour, and food colour spread and shape a thin layer on waxed paper to dry out if motivated to try making a batch.

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jbb View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    I can't imagine that these would be difficult or expensive to make.
    There are instructions in this book: Sealing-waxes, wafers, & other adhesives: for the household, office, workshop, and factory Hardcover – January 1, 1902
    by H. C. Standage (Author). https://www.amazon.com/Sealing-waxes.../dp/B000ZDMO7O
    Listed as unavailable.

    At a a guess, one could mix up some water. flour, and food colour spread and shape a thin layer on waxed paper to dry out if motivated to try making a batch.
    paperback is available: https://www.amazon.com/Sealing-waxes...s=books&sr=1-1
    JBBPensPaper an Etsy store

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    Default Re: Paste Wafer Seals - Victorian era letter sealing

    I have to admit that this topic fascinates me. I don't know why, but it does.

    Anyhow, I found this:
    How Wafers Were Made
    These are sort of like a predecessor to a sticker. Wafers were made from wheat flour which was mixed with water so as to form a thin smooth paste. The paste was then pressed between two thin polished iron plates, so joined as to form, when closed, a pair of “wafer tongs”. The plates didn’t quite touch each other but are separated by a space as thick as the wafers are required. The iron plates when used are slightly warmed and greased, filled with the paste, closed and held for a few moments over a charcoal fire. The heat sets the paste and on separating the tongs a thin sheet of polished dry brittle wafer will come out. Several of these are stacked and then cut into small circular wafers by means of a punch. If made only with flour then they are white, but they are oftentimes colored by mixing lamp black, gamboge, Indigo, Vermilion, and Red Lead. Transparent wafers were made of fine glue, or isinglass. After the introduction of gumming, some fancy wafers were cut from gilt or silver paper, gummed on the lower surface and usually embossed.

    How to Apply A Wafer
    To use a wafer to fasten papers and letters depends on the wafer becoming soft and adhesive when it is moistened. In this state it is placed between two pieces of paper, and the latter pressed together. The wafer adheres to both pieces of paper and when it dries unites them the same way as glue would.

    Source: https://www.victorianpassage.com/200...teries_of_sea/

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