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Family Crest - Wax Seal


#1

Good evening (day?) to all, I have a question regarding an old wax (I
think) seal made of an engraved family crest. A client came in with
an old seal… from around the 20’s or 30’s I’m guessing, based on
the box it’d been glued into. I need to duplicate this design, to
create two signet rings for his sons.

My question is this; does anyone know what the material is that they
used back then for this purpose? It is red in color, shiny and
hard…and where the impression is, it has more of a frosted look. I
tried to melt a corner of it with my wax pen, but it barely melted.
Certainly didn’t react to heat like wax would. It is not at all
flexible. Almost feels shellacy when I score the surface with a
scalpel. Next question; the impression is in positive , not a
negative. I had assumed that the hand engravers would make a wax
impression for their clients’ approval but carving design in metal,
warming it and letting it sink into a sheet of wax. Once it cooled,
it would be pulled away, and presto…a negative of what was carved.
Seeing that this is in positive, including letters, I guess I really
don’t know the process. And then; My plan was to invest this "wax"
seal, burn out, cast it in gold, then make a rubber mold of it.
Shoot a couple seals and adhere them to the tops of carved wax
signet rings, then casting in 18ky as he’s requested. Make any
sense?

What would be a better way to do this?? Any help (to all of the
above) would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance,
Jeff R.


#2
    My question is this; does anyone know what the material is
that they used back then for this purpose? It is red in color,
shiny and hard...and where the impression is, it has more of a
frosted look. I tried to melt a corner of it with my wax pen, but
it barely melted. Certainly didn't react to heat like wax would. It
is not at all flexible. Almost feels shellacy when I score the
surface with a scalpel. 

Hard sealing “wax” of the type you are describing is actually more
of a shellac mixtuRe:

The typical formula is 4 parts flake shellac, 1-3 parts Venetian
turpentine, 1 part rosin, and 1part coloring agent (anything from
chinese red, to gold leaf). It’s really a closer cousin to dop wax
than anything else.

    Next question; the impression is in positive ,  not a negative.
I had assumed that the hand engravers would make a wax impression
for their clients' approval but carving design in metal, warming it
and letting it sink into a sheet of wax. Once it cooled, it would
be pulled away, and presto..a negative of what was carved. 

Actually, you heat the sealing wax in an open flame until it is
liquid and apply it to the surface, it will remain soft enough to
take a seal matrix impression for a good 20 to 30 seconds.

Traditional seal matrices are either a straight lost wax casting, or
a casting with engraving work added. A few simple ones were just
engraving.

The sixteenth century goldsmith Cellini described the making of seal
matrices in his Treatises on Goldsmithing. The process likely
stayed pretty much the same until the advent of modern metal working
techniques.

    Seeing that this is in positive, including letters, I guess I
really don't know the process. And then; My plan was to invest this
"wax" seal, burn out, cast it in gold, then make a rubber mold of
it. Shoot a couple seals and adhere them to the tops of carved wax
signet rings, then casting in 18ky as he's requested. Make any
sense? 

If they don’t mind losing the original impression, it’s not a bad
way to go for your stated goal.

Ron Charlotte – Gainesville, FL
@Ron_Charlotte1 OR afn03234@afn.org


#3

Hi Jeff,

 A client came in with an old seal... from around the 20's or 30's
I'm guessing, based on the box it'd been glued into. I need to
duplicate this design, to create two signet rings for his sons.

The material the ‘seal’ is made of is called (oddly enough) ‘sealing
wax’. It’s basically a stick shellac that was melted into a blob on
the pkg. While the wax was still soft, a metal ring or die was
pressed into it to leave the design you see imbeded in the wax.

Probably the best way to make an inpression of the seal is by using
a cold setting material like RTV. That way the original won’t be
damaged & the customer can save it as memento of days gone by.

After the RTV mold is made, follow normal casting procedures.

Dave


#4

Jeff, Sounds like a shellac wax you have there it’s the result of
using a se al, of course, and all seals are made in the negative
form so that they produce a positive wax or shellac seal You CAN
destroy what you have easily, so be careful! If it’s a really good
impression, you might use a room temperature vulcanizing product,
but it COULD adversely affect that seal I would find someone who can
make a 3D scan of the object and produce a negative in CAD From that
a wax or thermoplastic mold can be made and you can cast an
original, which would be the negative, of course This is a great job
for CAD and CAM If you need soemone who can do this, let me know
Alternatively, you can make it from scratch in CAD alone, like
Matrix, from GemVision Corp The latest beta of Matrix has an
incredible signet ring builder tool and class ring builder tool which
would make this pretty easy to accomplish and the quality is
exceptional! Should be a piece of cake

Wayne Emery


#5

Jeff I had the same kind of thing come in last year. An impression
from a seal ring that was in a wax. Sounds like you have an
impression from a seal ring in old fashion sealing wax. My
understanding is a seal ring is one where the coat of arms or signet
is cut in reverse so that when the impression is left in wax it is a
positive. A signet ring the image is cut so that the coat of arms or
signet is correct as is. Anway the method I used was to take a RTV
rubber mold of the impression, shoot a wax and then construct a ring
around the wax injection. Worked great and the customer still has the
original seal. Frank Goss


#6

Hi Jeff, I do a lot of family crest engraving in metal signet rings
and (mostly) carve them in the negative or mirror image so that they
can be used as seals. Clients will have their coat of arms or family
crest on a bookplate or have a copy of some sort which I then scale
down to size and reverse into a negative. This is then carved into
the signet ring or seal fob.

The composition of the client’s wax impression is more than likely a
shellac-based mixture if it is old. Sealing waxes used to come in a
variety of “hardnesses” like our solders. The harder it was, the
higher the melting point.

The way you propose to reproduce the seal will be quite successful
providing, of course, that you get a good clean burn-out. You will
lose a little detail, but you can always touch that up in the metal.

Ideally it would be best if you could get hold of the original ring
or fob that made the impression in the first place. You will get a
much better impression from the original pressed into a contemporary
high definition casting wax. Lotsaluck. Rex Steele Merten


#7

It is a shellac based material, what works well is using dental
impression material which they use inside the mouth to get an
impression for dentures, this wont effect the seal and then you get
2or 3 wax impressions from the mold, it is very temporary, and use
them as normal.