Original eighteenth century Chelsea Seal in the form of a grotesque figure of a black masked man with 3 cornered ("tri-corn") hat. The tri-cornered hat was a popular hat worn in the 18th century by both aristocracy and commoners, as it was designed to better reveal one's highly fashionable wig. Our male figure is in black breeches, standing on a white base with the motto "Tou jour gay" ("always happy"). "Tou Jour gay" was used often as a motto as were many of the mottos seen on Chelsea Seals ( so known because they were made at the Chelsea Porcelain factory). Our figure has its original metal bottom which would have been added by the jeweler after the hand-painted Seal left the factory. Some of the enamel has worn off over the years. The term grotesque originated from the Gothic period and describes a human or animal figure made to look fantastical or absurd with exaggerated features.
The seals were made sometime between 1750-1780 by the Chelsea factory and were given as love tokens by the aristocracy. They were known as "toys" and worn as watch fobs or pendants on a chain about the neck.
Much information can be found in the book THE CHELSEA PORCELAIN TOYS, published by the Medici Society in London and Boston and described by GE Bryant. A page of Plates showing the original designs in watercolor of various Chelsea toys show similar versions ( though not the exact Seal).