Chatelaine thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery

This object consists of 8 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Chatelaine

1765-1775 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This type of waist-hung ornament is commonly called a chatelaine, but this term was adopted only in the early 19th century. It refers to a medieval châtelaine, or lady of the castle, and by extension, her bunch of keys and other useful items. The 18th-century name for this item was 'equipage', and its main component was normally an étui (a container for small tools), or sometimes a watch.

Ownership & Use
The main element of this chatelaine is an étui, a container fitted with a penknife, a bodkin for threading ribbon through lace, a combined nail-file and tweezers, and a combined toothpick and earscoop. Because these items are a selection from a fairly standard list of étui equipment, it is possible to tell from the shape of the remaining empty slot that this étui once also contained a hinged pair of ivory memorandum leaves (these could be written on, using a pencil). The small egg-shaped screw-top containers known as breloques may have been for small breath-freshening sweets. Chatelaines were not just attractive ornaments for ladies; their contents were useful too, and not unlike today's manicure sets, sewing kits and Swiss army knives.

Materials & Making
Mid-18th-century chatelaines were usually made from gilt metal, an alloy such as pinchbeck, or silver and gold. They were often ornately embossed with Rococo scrolling and sometimes had mother of pearl or agate panels. Enamelled chatelaines are comparatively unusual. They were quite complex to assemble, and few West Midlands workshops, except enterprises as large as that of Boulton & Fothergill of Birmingham, were capable of producing all the components, including mounts and enamelled parts. This is therefore the product of a larger factory, or if from a small workshop, a composite of parts bought in.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 8 parts.

  • Chatelaine
  • Part
  • Part
  • Instrument
  • Tweezers
  • Instrument
  • Knife (Cutting Tool)
  • Box
Materials and Techniques
Painted enamel on copper, with gilt-metal mounts and attachments
Brief Description
E



E



E



E



E



E



E
Physical Description
CHATELAINE (or set of accessories)
Dimensions
  • Depth: 22.86cm
Dimensions checked: Registered Description; 07/11/1999 by JD
Gallery Label
British Galleries: The enamel on this chatelaine uses decorative motifs from contemporary German porcelain but its mounts are typical of the West Midlands. They were made from one of the many varieties of brass-like base metals imitating gold. The most famous was 'pinchbeck', a brass-like alloy made to imitate gold, that was invented by Christopher Pinchbeck.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Myles Burton Kennedy, Esq.
Object history
Made in the West Midlands
Summary
Object Type
This type of waist-hung ornament is commonly called a chatelaine, but this term was adopted only in the early 19th century. It refers to a medieval châtelaine, or lady of the castle, and by extension, her bunch of keys and other useful items. The 18th-century name for this item was 'equipage', and its main component was normally an étui (a container for small tools), or sometimes a watch.

Ownership & Use
The main element of this chatelaine is an étui, a container fitted with a penknife, a bodkin for threading ribbon through lace, a combined nail-file and tweezers, and a combined toothpick and earscoop. Because these items are a selection from a fairly standard list of étui equipment, it is possible to tell from the shape of the remaining empty slot that this étui once also contained a hinged pair of ivory memorandum leaves (these could be written on, using a pencil). The small egg-shaped screw-top containers known as breloques may have been for small breath-freshening sweets. Chatelaines were not just attractive ornaments for ladies; their contents were useful too, and not unlike today's manicure sets, sewing kits and Swiss army knives.

Materials & Making
Mid-18th-century chatelaines were usually made from gilt metal, an alloy such as pinchbeck, or silver and gold. They were often ornately embossed with Rococo scrolling and sometimes had mother of pearl or agate panels. Enamelled chatelaines are comparatively unusual. They were quite complex to assemble, and few West Midlands workshops, except enterprises as large as that of Boulton & Fothergill of Birmingham, were capable of producing all the components, including mounts and enamelled parts. This is therefore the product of a larger factory, or if from a small workshop, a composite of parts bought in.
Collection
Accession Number
C.492:1 to 7-1914

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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