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]

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]

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]

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 Jewel History blog have been treated to her weekly (someti… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Beautiful English Antique 1903 Sterling Silver Chatelaine Sewing Scissors & CaseLovely Rare English Antique 1900 Sterling Silver Chatelaine Sewing Tape MeasureAntique Art Nouveau Gilt Brass Chatelaine Notebook Pendant Portland Or SouvenirStunning Rare English Antique 1890 Solid Sterling Silver Chatelaine ChainAntique Child's Gilt Metal Needlework Tool Chatelaine Locket Circa 1750Antique Miniature Cranberry Glass Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle W Chain RingFine Antique Sterling Miniature Chatelaine Perfume Bottle Vesta & PencilAntique Victorian Sterling Silver Chatelaine Pen Pocket Knife ~ Art NouveauBeautiful English Antique C1900 Solid Sterling Silver Chatelaine Thimble HolderStunning Antique Cobalt Blue Enameled Perfume Chatelaine Scent BottleAntique Pulse/hour Glass For Nurse Chatelaine * English * Circa 1900Antique Cigar Cutter Victorian Chatelaine Watch Fob Habana Cuba Enamel SilverC1921 Tiffany & Co. 14k Yellow Gold Pencil Case Chatelaine PendantEnglish Sterling Silver Miniature Button Hook For Chatelaine Adie & Lovekin LtdAntique Victorian Rec Sterling Silver & Mop Repousse Chatelaine Whistle 23gLovely English Antique C1900 Solid Sterling Silver Chatelaine Mesh Coin PurseFine Antique Ep Silver Pierced Spectacles Case With Chatelaine Belt Chain Clasp Antique Victorian Rec Sterling Silver Repousse Chatelaine Matchsafe 10g14k Yellow Gold Retractable Toothpick Fob Chatelaine PendantAntique William Kerr Sterling Silver Scroll Celluloide Dance Cards ChatelaineArt Deco C. Bucherer Sterling Silver Enamel Marcasite Flower Watch ChatelaineVintage Art Deco Solid Silver & Enamel Miniature Compact For Chatelaine!Antique Enamel & Gilt Chatelaine Perfume Scent Bottle C1880Art Deco C. Bucherer Sterling Silver Enamel Rose Flower Bow Watch Pin ChatelaineAide Memoire Chatelaine Art Nouveau Dance Card Note Book Edwardian Pencil Quality Late Victorian Brass Butterfly Design Skirt Lifter For Chatelaine BeltAntique Victorian French Chatelaine Mother Of Pearl Scent Snuff Bottle CharmAntique Sterling Silver Chain Mail Purse Chatelaine Purse .. France Around 1900Antique Hallmarked Sterling Silver Chatelaine / Albert Chain Charoot Holder CaseLot Of 2 X Gilt Metal Watch Chain / Chatelaines With Seals C1890Antique Jewelry Lot Silver 9ct Gold Costume Victorian Acorn Chatelaine NetsukeAntique Edwardian Hm Silver & Enamel Chatelaine Stamp Book Locket.only 99p StartAntique Victorian Silver Chatelaine Pen Pocket Knife ~ Art NouveauAntique Vintage Mechanical Pencil Pen Watch Fob Chatelaine Telescopic Tie Bar"victorian Pinchbeck Chatelaine Propelling Pencil Bloodstone Top" Circa 1880Two 19th C. French .800 Silver Chatelaine Clips, Belt Hooks, Clavet ClavierAntique English Sterling Silver Chased Needle Case For Chatelaine James Swann Antique Sterling Silver Chatelaine Etui Needle Or Pin CaseVictorian Watch Fob Pin/chatelaine ~ Etched Rose Gold FilledSterling Silver Estate Thimble Holder For Chatelaine 16.2gr Heavy No ReserveSilver Vintage/antique Small Propelling Pencil Fob/chatelaineVintage Brass Victorian Chatelaine Charms Pin WowSterling Silver Sewing Needle Holder For Chatelaine Or Chain 2.5" Long 12.7gr Vintage Lot Mens Sterling Lighter, Gold Filled, Chatelaine, Tie Clips, RingsAntique Victorian Miniature Chatelaine Fob Propelling Toothpick Rose Rg.citrine.Antique Victorian Silverplate Filigree Whimsey Chatelaine Floral On Chain OldVintage Urie Mandle Harlequin Music Notes Pin Brooch Chatelaine Earrings SetFabulous Genuine Victorian Antique Chatelaine PurseSigned Kjl Kenneth Jay Lane Airplane Luggage Chatelaine Brooch London Paris RomeEstate Found Vintage Etched Oval Victorian Carnelian Style Chatelaine Fob No RezVictorian Cut Glass Lay Down Chatelaine Perfume Bottle Sterling Silver Cap Unusual Vintage/antique Cased Propelling Pencil Fob Chain/chatelaineAntique Repousse Chatelaine Compact, Coin Purse, Finger Ring Purse Floral Enamel1903 Antique Edwardian Solid Silver Miniature Hand Mirror Chatelaine Dolls HouseAntique Victorian Puffy Heart Shaped Chatelaine Bottle Needle Holder ? OriginalSweet Gold Filled Victorian Ladies Puffy Heart Fob ChatelaineJoan Rivers Crystal Critters Butterfly Brooches With Chatelaine ChainVintage Ketcham & Mcdougall Art Nouveau Pin Chatelaine Retractable Eye GlassesLa Chatelaine Shea Hand Cream Lot Of 11 Tubes