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Subject: Wax seals

Wax seals

From: Richard Aitken <richard>
Date: Wednesday, November 21, 2001
Kirsten Elliott <loopyla8 [at] yahoo__co__uk> writes

>I am working on a printed document from England in 1786 which has a
>red wax seal applied to one corner. Does anybody know what type or
>nature of red pigments may have been used in wax seals around this
>date? From the literature I have found it seems that it could be a
>beeswax seal or a mixture of beeswax and mineral wax, is this

An instant thought to the type of red wax used is shellac, a hard
resinous substance, shiny, used as a seal on envelopes, letters,
etc, instead of stamps. This is excrement from an insect called
Tachardia Lacca, found in South east Asian trees.

Otherwise if the seal feels waxy, dull in colour, it will be a mix
of beeswax and colophony resin (used to harden the seal) and dye
called vermillion which contains mercury. Highly toxic to living
organisms, so should be in fairly good condition.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:39
                Distributed: Tuesday, November 27, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-15-39-003
Received on Wednesday, 21 November, 2001

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