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What is a Wax Jack?

The Wax Jack

First introduced in 1700, the wax jack was an alternative to using larger, more expensive methods of getting wax seals for letters. Wax jacks feature a vertical or horizontal shaft, with a thin beeswax taper, typically only around ¼ in diameter. The top end of the taper stuck out through a hole in a flat pan at the top of the wax jack, where a pincer held it in place. The user lights the end of the taper that is held by the pincer, and the wax forms a puddle that is contained within the pan. A standard candle is capable of achieving the same purpose, but it was a more expensive means than the wax jack

Designed to stand on a desk, most wax jacks have rounded bases, though some have stylised legs also. Wax jacks require strong bases in order to have the necessary stability to allow the wax to burn in an upright position. The wax jack was produced in a wide variety of forms and crafted in different materials such as silver, brass, wrought iron, or bell metal.

Wax Jack

Wax Jack Taper

Where was it used?

These days, wax jacks are most commonly found in England and on the Continent. They are known to have been used in the American colonies, despite being thought of as rarities. Originally, wax jacks would have been used by a relatively small number of individuals in the colonies, such as senior governmental officials or individuals with a substantial amount of correspondence.

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2 Responses

  1. jim johnson
    jim johnson January 1, 2015 at 9:06 pm | | Reply

    I have a wax jack of my great grandparents. I have no idea what it is worth and just doing some research.

    1. AC Silver
      AC Silver January 29, 2015 at 3:52 pm | | Reply

      Hi Jim, The first thing you need to do is get a valuation. You can call into a local auction house to get a valuation. If you share with me your location I can provide you with some local houses.

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Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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