Leslie Antiques: English Georgian Glass, Porcelain, Miniature Painting Leslie Antiques Ltd.

Chelsea Toy Seal of a Hurdy Gurdy Player c1760

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Ceramics: English: Porcelain: Pre 1800: Item # 796986

Please refer to our stock # p1089 when inquiring.
Leslie Antiques Ltd.
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New York, New York 10128

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The group of small porcelain items known as "toys" is composed of scent bottles, bonbonnieres, etuis, and seals. These were produced from the early years of Chelsea through to the Chelsea-Derby period. (The most comprehensive work on these items is The Chelsea Porcelain Toys, by G.E. Bryant, published in 1925.)

Seals were carried by members of the upper class and used to imprint a uniquely identifiable mark in the wax used to sign or secure documents or letters. They were generally 1" to 1 3/8" in height. The toy offered here is a 1 3/8" tall seal in the form of a man wearing a black cloth cap and playing a hurdy-gurdy. A hurdy gurdy (also known as a "wheel fiddle") is a stringed musical instrument in which the strings are sounded by means of a wheel which the strings of the instrument pass over. This wheel, turned with a crank, functions much like a violin bow, making the instrument essentially a mechanical violin. A very similar seal is illustrated in the Bryant book referenced above.

Because of their small size and heavy usage, chipping and heavy wear to the enamels is very typical. Loss of the ring mount and/or base mount is also common, and is not considered a major problem. The seal in this listing is in overall superb condition, with just the smallest amount of light wear to the enamels in some spots. Please keep in mind that these are highly enlarged pictures and any flaws look much worse than in real life. The ring mount is present, as is the base mount. Further, the matrix (the portion that actually impresses the seal markings) is a beautiful multi-colored semi-precious stone of some type.