Wax jack

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A simple Wax jack (Sheffield plate), circa 1740[1]

A Wax jack (wax-jack, taper-jack[2]) is a device used to hold a taper of sealing wax intended to create sealings on documents.

The wax jack was first introduced in 1700.[3] Before that time a simple taper was used in a loose ball. Despite the resemblance to a candle, they were not used for illumination. Although common in England and Europe, they were not used much in North America.[4]

Most early wax jacks were worked by silversmiths[5], although later models also exist in other metals such as iron, brass or bell metal.


A wax jack was a vertical or horizontal shaft around which a thin beeswax taper was coiled. The top end protruded through a hole in a pan that had a pincer to hold the taper in place. This allowed the taper to be lit and the resulting puddle of wax easily controlled. Some models, called "bougie boxes" had a pierced enclosure around the shaft to protect the taper. They were often used when travelling,[2] and to protect the taper from mice.[6] Others included a snuffer.[4]


  1. ^ "Wax jack - British - The Met". The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Of Wax-Jacks and Bougie-Boxes". The Regency Redingote. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  3. ^ Helaine Fendelman (7 May 2007). "Wax Jack: What Is It? What Is It Worth?". countryliving.com. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Wax Jacks - Internet Antique Gazette". www.internetantiquegazette.com. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  5. ^ George Bernard Hughes (1970). Sheffield Silver Plate. Praeger Publishers. p. 114.
  6. ^ Judith Martin (10 September 1989). "Who, What & Ware For the Table". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 20 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2017 – via HighBeam Research. If you don't mind your bougie being uncovered, you can hang it on a wax jack, but it is well known that bougie boxes keep the mice from nibbling your tapers.

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