Up to more modern times, sidewalks and streets were not the cleanest and the gowns of the era often swept the ground. Early examples of these lifters were described as “ to render the skirt, in walking, more manageable” (Cunnington). From the 1860s various styles of dress holders were constructed and these were also called porte-jupes, dress clips, pages, dress suspenders or skirt lifters. One classic style included a waist plaque with tongue to secure it to the skirt or belt with two chains passing to a larger decorative sprung appendage. This is such an example. This piece is rendered more interesting because on the security clip for the fabric is an enamel floral decoration with red and white flowers and green leaves. The remainder of the piece is of greyish metal. An almost identical piece with similar grasping mechanism but without the enamel is illustrated on page 162 of my book, “Chatelaines, Utility to Glorious Extravagance”. The attaching clip functions in very similar manner to a large bulldog clip and has blunt teeth which would have gripped the fabric tightly so that when needed this could be pulled up for apparent easier walking. It is intriguing to note that most of these would not have picked up the whole skirt but only a small section. The back of the clip states Patent 20531. The condition of the piece is very good for age (with just a tiny loss of enamel on the stem) and this would add a more unusual example to a collection of these intriguing fashion accessories. Maximum length 6.25 ins (15.5cm). Weight 48 grams.