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Waxing Eloquent: Introducing the New Parvum Opus Wax Seal Stamp Box

Wax Seal Stamp Box by Parvum Opus

It's my great pleasure to introduce the newest addition to the Parvum Opus collection of interesting objects, the Wax Seal Stamp Box. This piece has been designed and created in our atelier, and I couldn't be happier with the result. Some of you may recall that I built a limited edition of seal-encrusted pieces a few years ago, which was a labor of love, truly. In the intervening period, I've continued making wax seal-encrusted convex mirrors and boxes by request, but this new stamp box will be the first wax seal piece that's available to order as part of the website's permanent collection.

Wax Seal Stamp Box by Parvum Opus

This new design is a two-part wooden box of quadrate form, built in-house, of course, which has been painstakingly encrusted with wax seal impressions from my collection of antique fobs and desk seals. If you're unfamiliar with how wax seal impressions are made, this is a meticulous process where a small puddle of a specially-formulated wax is dripped onto the box surface, and then the seal matrix is pressed into the wax until it solidifies, leaving its intricate impression. Each seal impression takes several minutes to create, and working with the molten wax yields a unique outcome every time.

One of my prized possessions: an important antique carnelian seal of Sir Isaac Newton with Halley's comet in the background. At right, some of the carved seals in my collection, including a bee and squirrel, both created for me by master gem carver, Lala Ragimov.

Inside the stamp box you'll find an interior beautifully lined with hand-marbled paper, and English brass bun feet elevate the base. It's quite a special little thing, about 4 inches square, and its scale makes it handy for more than just postage stamps: this would be a handsome home for keys, or other daily necessities, and with the addition of an optional velvet pad, it's ideal for a favorite piece of jewelry or watch. Stamp boxes will be available to order in three colors: deep Prussian blue (as seen here), racing green or claret red.

The Parvum Opus wax seal stamp box with velvet lining for jewelry

Wax Seal Stamp Box by Parvum Opus

It's captivating to work with antique fobs and desk seals. These everyday tools carry the memory of their previous owners and bring to mind the romance of handwritten letters, which seems particularly meaningful in our digital era. In my own collection, I have several examples featuring monograms, family crests, and personal mottos, and I've even commissioned a couple of my own, which I enjoy using for my own correspondence as well as for wax seal projects in the studio.

Interestingly, the use of seal stamps began in Mesopotamia about 6000 BCE, when images were carved into stone and impressed into clay or wax to mark property or authenticate documents. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures at the University of Chicago with my younger son, and among the impressive and varied collections, we found ourselves fascinated with their collection of ancient seals.

Above, just a few of the ancient seals we admired at the University of Chicago's ISAC.

I'm obviously not alone in my interest in wax seals, and beginning in the Regency era, decorative objects encrusted with seal impressions were created as souvenirs. From what I understand, these were produced mostly in England and Italy, and they are coveted by collectors and decorative arts enthusiasts even today.

A few examples of antique wax seal souvenir objects, including a pair of obelisks and a hexagonal box, both from Mario Buatta's private collection, which was auctioned with great fanfare by Sotheby's in 2020.

These curiosities are an inspiration to me and I've enjoyed interpreting them through this new facet of my studio practice. My modern works are obviously not designed or intended to be mistaken for antique pieces: I enjoy reimagining old craft tools and techniques to build new objects for daily use. To me, working with this material is a way of inviting something old to a new life and purpose.

A couple of pieces from my first limited edition collection of wax seal pieces: an obelisk in lavender and a hexagonal box in mustard yellow.
A couple of pieces from my first limited edition collection of wax seal pieces: an obelisk in lavender and a hexagonal box in mustard yellow, along with a framed assortment of antique seal impressions that inspired them.

A convex mirror with a frame encrusted in wax seal impressions
One of the wax seal convex mirrors created in my studio.

The Parvum Opus Wax Seal Stamp Box

I hope you've enjoyed this excursion into the inspiration for our new wax seal stamp box. I've dedicated myself to continually expand the range of materials we employ and the types of objects we create at Parvum Opus, always with an eye to the artistic and distinctive. Rather than focusing on what's commercial or easy to produce, I always lean towards creating objects that capture my imagination, that I enjoy building and that I'd like to live with and use for a long time. The wax seal stamp box aligns nicely with that model, I think. I'll be investigating this and other materials further as the scope of my work expands. Thank you for joining me-- there's more to come!

the artist's signature

Souvenir is the blog for Parvum Opus, an artist-run studio specializing in artistic decorative objects and home furnishings. We welcome your thoughts! Comment below to join the conversation, and if you enjoyed this, don't forget to subscribe to receive an email when we publish new posts.



Jul 08

Thank you for your post, Erika! I have loved wax seals for a long time and enjoyed learning about their history.

You are a treasure!

Wendy Mills

Jul 09
Replying to

Thank you, Wendy- You're much too kind. I'm so glad you enjoyed this post. 🌻

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