In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "The Purloined Letter", there is this quote in which a seal on a letter is replaced by bread:

D-- rushed to a casement, threw it open, and looked out. In the meantime, I stepped to the card-rack, took the letter, put it in my pocket, and replaced it by a fac-simile, (so far as regards externals,) which I had carefully prepared at my lodgings; imitating the D-- cipher, very readily, by means of a seal formed of bread.

The story is set in Paris, France, sometimes in the mid-1800s. (The story was published in 1845.) Over on Literature.SE, we were able to find out that it was part of an elaborate set of puns, but I'm wondering about the literal usage of bread as a replacement for a wax seal and if this was ever actually practiced.

Are there any records of bread being used as a replacement for a wax seal, even as a forging tactic?

  • 1
    Something similar happens in an earlier work of fiction, Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters (1753). That's all I'm finding so far.
    – Brian Z
    May 5, 2020 at 17:30
  • Another possibility is to use kneaded-up bread paste as a medium to make an impression of the seal, and then, in the back office, use this impression to make a fake seal. Something like this happens in dentists' offices. May 5, 2020 at 22:30


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