The Chelsea porcelain toy offered here is a magnificent 3 3/4 inch tall scent bottle in the form of a flower vendor dressed in a white apron, a blue bodice enhanced with a red ribbon, a yellow lined purple flowered jacket, and a turquoise skirt. She is holding an elongated basket of greenery in her right hand, and a large basket of flowers cradled in her left arm. Her hat is adorned with various types of fruit, as is the stopper of the bottle. The concave base has a gilt floral sprig within a dentil border. The stopper mount itself appears to be made out of gold, as was the case with the more expensive examples. A very similar scent bottle, clearly from the same mold, is illustrated in "The Chelsea Porcelain Toys", by G.E. Bryant, published in 1925. This book is the most comprehensive reference work on Chelsea toys.
Because of their small size and delicacy, chipping and heavy wear to the enamels is very typical, and surviving examples are often heavily restored. The scent bottle in this listing is in overall fine condition, with some work done to the underneath of the base and restoration to the fruit at the top of the stopper. A few of the tiny gold teeth on the stopper mount have been broken. These repairs are barely visible to the naked eye, and do not really affect the impact and beauty of the piece. Please keep in mind that the pictures are highly enlarged and any flaws look much worse than in real life.
Of the various types of Chelsea toys, many fewer scent bottles remain today compared to seals and other forms, and command auction prices generally in the $3000 and up area for examples of this type and condition.
Note: 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.
In the 18th century, scent bottles were often carried by wealthier ladies in their coaches and were used on journeys to freshen themselves. They were in shagreen cases, which allowed some of these very delicate and beautifully worked items to survive.