Victorian-era multitool for women: the chatelaine

Ben Marks of Collectors Weekly says: "Our Senior Victorian Accessories Correspondent, Hunter Oatman-Stanford, has just written a piece about the chatelaine, which was the killer hands-free device for women back in the Victorian era. For his article, he interviewed author Genevieve Cummins."

Like a customized Swiss Army knife, a chatelaine provided its wearer with exactly the tools she needed closest at hand. For an avid seamstress, that might include a needle case, thimble, and tape measure, while for an active nurse it might mean a thermometer and safety pins. Inspired by the complex key rings carried by “la chatelaine,” the female head of a grand French estate, these beautiful little contraptions were as fashionable as they were practical. In fact, their design was sometimes so trendy that style trumped usefulness.

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