The Chatelaine--An Antique Multitool for Women

A busy woman needs the tools of her work accessible. This was a challenge when fashions did not include many pockets. The chatelaine was a popular solution in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries:

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.


(Images: Genevieve Cummins)

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