Late Victorian Gunmetal Chatelaine
An excellent antique chatelaine complete with three appendages: a triple pencil with three retractable coloured ends, an aide memoire (or carnet du bal, dance card), and a black and red double pencil. The piece is build in gunmetal with gold plated accents turquoise studs. The colours of the pencils denoted by coloured paste gemstones.
A chatelaine is a decorative belt hook worn at the waist with a series of chains hanging from it, each one ready to attach some useful household tool: watches, thimbles, keys, scissors, powder compacts, coin purses, smelling salts, etc. Women in ancient Rome wore them, with ear scoops, tweezers, and nail cleaners, and the remnants of chatelaine bags have been found amongst the grave-goods of 7th and 8th century Anglo Saxon burials.
The term itself derives from the French word for the mistress of the chateau, who would suspend the keys of the house from her belt. A tradition that continued, and was taken to the extreme, during the course of the 19th century: the woman in charge of the various keys to desks, chests, drawers, pantries, cabinets, storage boxes, etc. was known as "the woman of the household", and held total authority over who had access to what, charged with directing the servants, housemaids, cooks and delivery servicemen, and safeguarding the valuables of the household.
In this case, the main object is an aide memoire - a little notepad with paper leaves featuring gilded edges for making notes, keeping lists, secret love letters, or, potentially, to be used as a carnet du bal so would-be suitors can book themselves in for a dance. It dangles, along with the two pencils, from a thick wire-work heart comprising two scroll motifs and a ball at the top.
Era: Victorian, circa 1900
Aide Memoire: 7.3cm by 3.6cm
Chains: 11cm, 6cm, and 4.5cm (including dog clips)
Clip: 4.6cm by 2.5cm
Stones: Turquoise and paste
Marks: ENGL PAT 8771 (patent number)
Condition: Good antique condition. The pencils all have their original lead, and the notepad has around half of its original leaves. Light wear consistent with age including some minor scuffs and scratches, wear to the gold plating, etc.
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Gemstones are tested by an accredited gemmologist (Cert GA, Gemmological Association of Great Britain)
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We offer detailed and accurate condition reports on each listing. These pieces are antique, vintage, or pre-loved, often over 100 years old so they're going to have lived a life. A healthy patina and the odd scuff/scrape are quite normal... it's part of their charm! Everything we present has been checked over by our jeweller and should be good for wear for many years to come (unless otherwise stated) but please remember to treat them with appropriate care and consideration for their age.
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