Fob Seal, Girl-in-a-Swing (Charles Gouyn, St James's), c.1750-59


This charming fob seal is modelled as a pug dog sitting on its hind-quarters and wearing a pink collar. The base is inscribed with the motto JE SUIS FIDELLE (I am faithful) in red. The gilt metal mount, probably gold, is set with a carnelian seal matrix engraved with a swan on water.

The St James's manufactory excelled at the production of miniature items, or so-called toys. These tiny porcelain scent-bottles and fob seals, often richly decorated and mounted in gold were clearly made for wealthy aristocrats to give as gifts and love tokens.

The General Advertiser of 29 January 1750-51 acknowledges the Huguenot jeweller, Charles Gouyn, as 'late Proprietor and Chief Manager of the Chelsea-House'. Certainly, Gouyn had been involved with the Chelsea porcelain factory from its foundation, c.1743-45, most likely in a financial capacity, however by 1750, he was established in the fashionable St James's area of London, from where he was retailing porcelain of his own manufacture. Rent documents suggest that the premises and land used for the production of porcelain was situated to the north and west of St James's, in the area known today as Mayfair.

Condition: Excellent - no damage, just minor wear to the enamels. The ring attachment is lacking.

Dimensions: Height 2 cm

The Chelsea Porcelain Toys: Scent-bottles, Bonbonnieres, Etuis, Seals and Statuettes, made at the Chelsea Factory, 1745-1769 & Derby Chelsea, 1770-1784, G.E. Bryant (The Medici Society, 1925).

Chelsea Porcelain, Elizabeth Adams (The British Museum Press, 2001).


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