Before women carried purses, they often relied on chatelaines to keep an array of miniature accessories close at hand. Named after “La Chatelaine,” or the female head of a French household who was responsible for an estate’s keys, chatelaines became a practical accessory for women at a time when pockets were tiny or nonexistent.

During the 16th century, it was common to hang such tools near the waist with a cord or ribbon, but in the 18th century, stylish European chatelaines took over. These chatelaines generally featured a central medallion mounted on a hook or pinback brooch to be attached directly onto a dress. Dangling from this central point could be anywhere from one to 20 chains, each attached to a small trinket or tool.

Many chatelaines included a symbolic key, referencing their original namesake, as well as useful objects like needlework tools, coin purses, notebooks and pencils, or tiny perfume bottles. Often these accessories were produced and sold as a complete set, in styles ranging from utilitarian steel to exquisitely detailed varieties of precious stones and metals. While some of the most stylish versions were simply designed to showcase an expensive watch, others were tailored to specific pursuits, like painting or archery.

As purses grew in size and fashions shifted, chatelaines became less popular, gradually disappearing altogether in the early 20th century. Today, it is rare to find a complete chatelaine with all its original accessories, thus these are the most desirable among collectors.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Scrap Album

The Scrap Album

Malcolm Warrington’s The Scrap Album is a handsomely organized site, as you’d expect from an articulate champio… [read review or visit site]

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Ventagli.org

Ventagli.org

Anna Checcoli's homage to the beauty and art of hand fans ('ventagli,' in Italian). Use the left-hand nav to browse… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Stevengraphs Bookmarks and Postcards

Malcolm Roebuck's tribute to the ornate silk picture bookmarks and postcards ('Stevengraphs') produced by Thomas St… [read review or visit site]

Antiquespectacles.com

Antiquespectacles.com

Dr. David Fleishman's comprehensive spectacles site (over 3500 images), in collaboration with museums around the wo… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s JewelHistory blog have been treated to her weekly (sometim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Ancien Chaine Montre Gousset Argent Massif Micro MosaBeautiful Antique Sterling Silver ChatelaineA Rare Victorian Miniature Pomander / Vinaigrette For Chatelaine Scent Bottle Antique Solid Silver Chatelaine ClipAntique Sterling Silver Hallmarked Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle Birm 1890Antique Victorian Sterling Silver Eagle Stamp Vesta Match Safe Case ChatelaineTiny Jeweled Enameled French Chatelaine Pendant Cased Perfume, Scent Vial, EtuiAntique American Victorian Mechanical Propelling Pencil Silver Chatelaine HicksAntique Lorgnette Glasses Fancy Tortoise Shell Chatelaine Beautiful Antique Sterling Silver Chatelaine Scissors With CherubsLovely Antique Hallmarked Sterling Silver Chatelaine No ReserveAntique Victorian Mother Of Pearl Shell Chatelaine Chain Perfume Scent BottleAntique Vintage Victorian Silver Gold Stone Pocket Watch Albert Chain ChatelaineAntique Lorgnette Glasses Tortoise Shell Chatelaine Attractive Antique Glass Scent Bottle/ Vinaigrette-chatelaineArt Nouveau Sterling Silver Hallmarked Belt Buckle Chatelaine Chain London 19031900 French Mistletoe Art Nouveau Silver Ladies Chatelaine Hand Mirror Christmas1903 Arthur Downing Hallmarked Sterling Silver Chatelaine Pencil HolderAntique Conical Porcelain Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle Jewelled Lid C1880Fabulous Antique Gold Filled Chatelaine Compact - Garnet & Pearl Lorgnette ChainRare Solid Silver Handled Combined Chatelaine Button Hook & Tools. C.1894Victorian 14k Yellow Gold Enameled Floral Orchid Diamond Chatelaine Holder PinDoll’s Chatelaine, C1910-20.Antique Victorian Chatelaine PincushionAntique 19c Persian Islamic Middle Eastern Silver Chatelaine Tool / HolderAntique Lorgnette Glasses Mother Of Pearl Chatelaine Antique Gold Filled Pocket Watch Holder Pin Brooch Chatelaine Horseshoe WishboneAntique Sterling Silver Perfume Bottle Pendant Necklace ChatelaineStunning Victorian Chatelaine Sterling Heart Memo Pad Fob Celluloid Pages RareAntique French Red Leather Doll Purse W/ Chatelaine, French German Bisque DollsAntique Sterling Silver Hallmarked Chatelaine Mesh Sovereign Purse London 1902Antique Victorian 9ct Gold Glass Shell Miniature Chatelaine Perfume Scent/bottleAmazing Antique Ss & Mother Of Pearl Chatelaine Perfume Bottle Necklace OrnateAntique Chatelaine Watch Chain Brooch Pin Fleur De Lis Gilt Blue Cobalt EnamelAntique Cut Glass Sterling Repousse Lid Perfume Bottle Chatelaine Finger RingDavid Yurman Turquoise Chatelaine Earrings! GorgeousDavid Yurman Chatelaine Earrings With AmethystSampson Mordan 9ct Gold Propelling Pencil /stirrup Cased/lon.1904/fob/chatelaineMiniature Photo Picture Album Book Chatelaine Fob Charm Pendant LocketAntique Solid Silver Chatelaine Tooth Pick, Birm 1903, By F Webb.Antique Victorian Cut Glass Ornate Brass Top Scent Perfume Bottle ChatelaineAntique Chatelaine Sterling Silver Flat Pencil - Ornate Engraved Case W/box -dnTiny Antique Tested Gold Pocket Watch Key Hearts.winder Chatelaine.fob CharmFine Sterling Silver Propelling Pencil Chatelaine 1800s Australian?Beautiful Sterling (numbered B5285) Silver Conch Shell Chatelaine Pill BoxAntique Chatelaine Enamel Mesh Tiny Purse Minty ConditionVintage Large 1940s Sandor Gold Chatelaine Style Pin Fob Drops Rare Estate FindBijoux Ancien Grand Sautoir, Chatelaine, 160 Cm De Long Argent Massif Et Pierre Unusual Vintage 3 Pencil Chatelaine Compendium.Antique Solid Silver Edwardian Chatelaine Glove Button Hook 1904 Adie & LovekinLot 10 Antique Vintage Silver Plated Nurses Buckles Chatelaine Belt Links RepairAntique Victorian Sterling Silver Chatelaine Chain Watch Fob 48" Necklace -dnChatelaine Watch And Belt Attachment Niello Enamel French Silver ?Stunning Rare Antique Silver Chatelaine Belt Clip Complete London 1899 Ref 448Antique Victorian Chatelaine Old Green Watch Pin Fob Unsigned Free ShipVintage Chatelaine Mini Hart Bottle Perfume Pin Brooch Filigree France ParisNear Mint 2 Mechanical Pencils Twist Ferrules 1.1mm Lead Chatelaine GoldAntique Victorian Fully Hallmarked Sterling Silver Chatelaine Glove Button Hook Antique Chatelaine Purse - Silver Plated Steel Cut Beads - As IsFancy Antique Victorian Engraved Sterling Silver Needle Spin Case For Chatelaine