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J. Herbin Brass Seal and Supple Wax

When my Canadian friend sent me a handwritten letter and requested I reciprocate, I knew, like it or not, I would have to take the final step to complete this trilogy of words. I was already knee-deep in ink and pens, so stationary was not far behind.

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I recently ordered some ink from Goulet Pens and was impressed with the personalized letter he included and, in particular, the wax seal. There’s something just so romantic about the idea I knew I had to have it too. I ordered a J. Herbin brass seal, wooden handle, and four supple waxes to start off with.

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The delivery was quick and the items were packed well. The brass seal itself looks to be of average quality. There were no obvious fit or finish issues though the adhesive gum they used to attach it to the paper was not of the “easy-to-remove” variety. In fact, I still have half the residue on my seal. This is not a big concern because it’s hidden by the handle.

Ah yes, the handle. It is terrible. The fit and finish are horrendous and it just looks and feels cheap. I cannot believe it cost as much as it does. The finish (literally, the stain/sealant on the wood) is not smooth and goopy in parts. The worst is the brass wring at the bottom near the threaded post is the wrong size and it looks like they used hot glue to attach it. I guess this is a moot point once you screw the handle onto the seal, but I was expecting more.

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The wax is great. It’s really easy to heat up using a propane torch (demonstrated here by Brian). You only need to count to three, or wait until you see it dripping, before it’s ready. Compared to Brian’s seals, I need a lot more practice. I haven’t been able to get a consistent thickness plus I don’t think I’ve laid enough down. If you decide to go this route, I would recommend getting the individual sticks so you aren’t stuck with a four-pack of the same color.

At a little over $25 for the handle and seal, plus $4.50 per stick of wax, this is not a cheap venture. However, I think it’s worth the cost and should last me a while considering I rarely send letters. I don’t have much experience with seals so I don’t know what a reasonable quality to expect is but I suspect J. Herbin seals (the brass, not the wax) are probably at the bottom of the totem.

| More pictures on Flickr |

1 Response to “J. Herbin Brass Seal and Supple Wax”


  • Great review here, and thank you for linking to my site! One thing of note is that the seal you have is an ‘older’ version of the brass seals. J. Herbin has updated the seals a bit and they’re just a tad different. The ‘less common’ letters like your ‘V’, the ‘Q’, ‘X’, and a couple of others still have some of the ‘older’ type. The only real noticeable difference is that the outer ring on the bottom of the seal is slightly thinner on the new ones, and the gum that’s used to hold the seal in the packaging is much different. You don’t have the problem with it sticking to the brass like you have with this one. They’re a tad shinier too, if that matters.

    I have an affinity for wax seals, I’ve been obsessed with them and have done around 1,000 of them in the last 6 months since I started. Practice makes perfect! As far as the quality of the brass seals go, they’re somewhere in the middle….considered of good quality for the price. A really nice high-end custom seal can cost you well over $100 for just the brass, so $12.50 isn’t too bad!

    The sample sticks are fun, it makes it so you can try different colors without spending more than you have to. At $14.50 a pack, trying different colors with full packs REALLY adds up!

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