Wikipedia 10K Redux by Reagle from Starling archive. Bugs abound!!!

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Seal

A wax or other item used to close an item to indicate whether or not the item has been opened since the seal was applied.

A letter writer would compose the letter, fold it over, pour wax over the joint formed by the top of the page of paper, and then impress a ring or other symbol to:

* Seal the document to prevent tampering
* Provide proof that the document is actually from the sender and is not a forgery