Ansonia has a new city seal that replaced a “dated and crude” image of its namesake and founder, Anson G. Phelps.
The design was unveiled at an Aldermen’s meeting Tuesday (May 8).
The update — and the description of the previous design — comes courtesy of Rich DiCarlo, an artist and Derby resident who serves as president of the Valley Arts Council in Derby.
DiCarlo said he spent 42 hours updating the frowning, cartoon-like image of Phelps previously depicted on the seal. He did not charge the city for the work.
But it “was not as easy as just drawing a smile on his sour puss,” DiCarlo said in an announcement.
DiCarlo said he found portraits of Phelps that were used to create the original city seal, and used features from them “to recreate Anson’s likeness in a positive, respectful way.”
The new seal adds more features to Phelps’ image while retaining a Latin caption — “SIGILL CIVITAT ANSONIA IN REPUBLICA CONNECTICUTENSI” — which roughly translates to “seal of the city of Ansonia in the state of Connecticut.”
It also includes the year Phelps founded the industrial village of Ansonia — 1844 — as well as 1893, the year of the city’s official incorporation as a city.
According to a post on the Electronic Valley, Phelps was born in Simsbury in 1781, and invested in Derby after establishing a thriving business in New York dealing in copper, tin, and brass.
“Thwarted in his efforts to expand his business farther north, he instead settled on the east bank of the Naugatuck River in what is now downtown Ansonia,” the post says. “That area might have become ‘Phelpsville,’ except that there was apparently another town by that name, so the new industrial village came to be called Ansonia.”
Click here for more background about the saga from the Derby Historical Society.
Phelps died in 1853.
The re-design was prompted by “several complaints from the community and members of (Cassetti’s) administration,” DiCarlo said, like Patrick Henri, a former Sixth Ward Alderman who had raised the issue about three years ago.
He said some suggested replacing Phelps on the seal altogether, “but, who else would be better suited to represent the city than its namesake?”