Here is a fabulous antique seal that dates from the 1870's, that is so unique and so wonderfully tactile and will look perfect on a desk as a seal, or around the neck on a chain where it will no doubt always be admired.
To begin with, the seal is made from pique which is a material that is no longer available making this alone very special, but finding a seal made of pique is as rare as they come.
Click here to read an article on pique jewellery. https://www.kalmarantiques.com.au/articles/history-of-pique-jewellery/
The beautiful and elegant twist design really captivates the eye and set with an orb on the top adds to the charm and character of an already very special piece. The base measures 24.9mm by 25.3mm, and 45.3mm from the bottom to top.
And then the seal has a wonderful intaglio of a Scottish thistle and a loose Scottish translation of a Latin motto of the Order of the Thistle which translates in English to "No one provokes me with impunity".
This is such a fabulous antique seal that is truly like no other.
Rare antique pique seal with the Order of the Thistle intaglio
Rare antique pique seal dating from the 1870's.
No one provokes me with impunity’
What is pique jewellery?
Pique jewellery is a style and type of jewellery all unto itself and one that cannot be reproduced today and is so unique and spectacular. Made most popular during the Victorian era, it can be found as far back as the 18th Century and was popular throughout most parts of Europe but mostly in Italy and England.
Pique (pronounced pee-kay) is gold or silver, or sometimes a combination of both, inlayed into another material. Quite often the material was tortoiseshell (from the Hawksbill tortoise which was also used for the making of other tortoiseshell material such as boxes etc) and sometimes even from elephant ivory.
The tortoiseshell seemed to be the most popular, probably because of its light weight and being easy to mould into other shapes. Tortoiseshell is a natural thermoplastic , meaning that it is quite malleable when heated/warmed. Very fine gold or silver would be fashioned into either fine rod or leaf designs. These were then pressed into the already warmed tortoiseshell. After the gold and silver was set, the shell was left to cool down which would then contract to hold the metal in place.
Prior to 1870, the metals were cut by hand allowing for very fine and intricate detail. After 1870, machines started to do the work resulting in more straight and angular designs. The attention to detail no matter the age is always something that never ceases to amaze people especially when you consider that these pieces were often made well over 140 years ago and still look superb today.
Pique jewellery can most commonly be found in earrings and pendants, and the designs and colouring are amazing to admire.
This form of jewellery making is now a lost art as both the elephant and Hawksbill turtle are protected species. This means that pique jewellery will become harder and harder to find as the years go by.
What are seals used for?
Going back as far as Roman times, after a letter was sealed with wax, the writer would stamp the still warm wax with his or her seal to prevent the wrong person from opening the letter, as once broken, the wax seal could not be used again.
Click here to see more antique pique jewellery that is currently in store:
Click here to see a small selection of more antique seals that are currently instore:
A link to the beautiful Victoria & Albert museum in London: