Originally, a “chatelaine” was a woman who owned or controlled a castle or large house, a European station in life that was usually brought about when a wealthy woman was widowed. The keys to this kingdom were often kept on a belt and consequently the term “chatelaine” transferred to that accessory. For Victorian women, the chatelaine became a de rigueur ornament attached to a belt and used in a variety of venues from the sewing room to the ballroom. It included multiple metal chains onto which different implements could be attached. By the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, the invention of celluloid allowed the heavier metal links to be replaced with light, celluloid rings threaded with ribbon to create the chain.
At 24”, this 20th century ribbon chatelaine is almost long enough to be its own woman’s belt. More likely, with its comfortable celluloid rings, it was hung around a lady’s neck while she worked in her sewing room. In addition to its links, the chatelaine’s tools-- a thimble and an awl-- are also made of celluloid. The thimble is a large one—5/8” in diameter—and the awl is 3” long. There is also a ¾” white linen strawberry emery embroidered with red “seeds”. All three items are attached to the chatelaine with red silk ribbons that match the ribbon of the chatelaine.
The chatelaine is in excellent condition. Please examine the photos and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. While you are here, do enjoy the other sewing items I have for sale at this time. Thank you for visiting my shop today.
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Early 20thc Ribbon Chatelaine with Celluloid Tools