18th Century Chatelaines & Equipage

An item worn at the waist, often carrying small sewing tools, watches, and other objects, suspended from chains. The 18th century term seems to be “equipage,” as we see in this description from Town Eclogues: Thursday; the Bassette-Table, by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu:

Behold this equipage by MATHERS wrought
With fifty guineas (a great pen'orth!) bought!
See on the tooth-pick MARS and CUPID strive,
And both the struggling figures seem to liue.
Upon the bottom see the Queen's bright face;
A myrtle foliage round the thimble case;
JOVE, JOVE himself does on the scissars shine,
The metal and the workmanship divine.

However, it should be noted that, while what we call a “chatelaine” seems to be called an “equipage” (at least in the instance above, as well as in some advertisements (Boston News Letter, April 28, 1768), it should be noted that not every reference to an “equipage” is, in fact, what we would call a “chatelaine.” The Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 points out that it was “an umbrella term that was applied to almost any set of APPAREL or equipment. For example, one advertisement was for 'elegant Tea and Coffee equipages, painted after the Dresden manner' [Newspapers (1780)], another by a 'Coach & Harness Maker' was just for 'all sorts of Equipages in the Compleatest manner' [Tradecards (18c.)], leaving it to the reader to deduce what might be included.”

(See also pincushions, sewing kits, tailors & seamstresses, etc.)

  • Met 32.100.316, gold, enamel, and diamonds, British, 18th century
  • Watch on a chatelaine, with a key, decorated with cut diamonds and a spinel, England, c. 1718-1733
  • V&A M.433 to B-1911, England or Germany, c. 1730; “Pinchbeck chatelaine chased with figures probably representing Apollo and Minerva, incorporating scissors and pen” with shagreen case
  • V&A M.275-1975, England, 1730-1735; “Pinchbeck chatelaine incorporating scissors case, needle case, etui and two thimble cases”
  • CW 1952-601, a watch with chatelaine, London, 1740; “Paircase watch; pinchbeck outer case with repousse scene of classical figures; gold inner case; dust cap; verge movement with pierced silver cock, diamond capstone, and squared baluster pillars. Pinchbeck chatelaine with repousse and pierced ornament and two pendants holding watch key and two seals. Survives with shaped, black shagreen case lined with red velvet.”
  • Vininghill 050518, gilt copper, early to mid 18th century; “The chatelaine hook has a cherub face at the top, two different faces decorating the scrolled sides, and a romantic scene in the middle. Attached to the decorated hook by chains are two small containers that are empty, but were probably for thimbles or sweetmeats. The design again is elaborate, and the containers have a push button locking mechanism. The etui hangs from the center of the hook and has similar design work, as well as a seated lady framed by stylized curtains as a central motif. In the etui is a pair of scissors with a wonderful ormolu and steel handle, a writing tablet, a pair of tweezers, a file, a bodkin, an ormolu and steel knife, and a small pencil.”
  • Met 17.190.1450, a watch (made by John Rich) and chatelaine in agate, gold, diamonds, rubies, and enamel, London, c. 1740
  • V&A M.307-1919, a gold chatelaine, England, c. 1740-1760
  • PMA 1964-130-1, a silver chatelaine hook, Philadelphia, 1748
  • Antique-Watch A8162, c. 1750; “cast gilt metal chatelaine with a chased and engraved representations of musical instruments. Gilt clip buckle suspending three further oval cartouches and two short chains. Swivel latches with hinge and threaded safety ring. Suspended from the chains a gilt and rock crystal swivel seal, silver gilt hinged glazed locket and a cast silver Madonna and child.”
  • Fine & Mint 1729, c. 1750; “gilt metal equipage with central fully fitted Etui and two side appendages”; the etui contains a toothpick with ear wax spoon, ivory aide memoire, pencil, knife, and scissors
  • MFA 51.653, equipage (chatelaine) with central etui and two appendages, England, c. 1750; “In this example, the belt hook and dependent plaques are cast in relief and feature Erotes figures and goddesses in Classical garb arranged in asymmetric cartouches. Flanking these elements are hinged, oval boxes made of hammered sheet metal decorated with ornamental swags and shells. Now empty, the boxes may once have held a thimble and thread. The main component of the equipage is the etui which is suspended from a swivel hoop and embellished on both sides. Depicted on the front is a seated woman in an idyllic garden reading a book while Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and patron of the arts, is shown seated in an outdoor setting on reverse. Inside the etui are various gilt-metal implements, including a miniature spoon; a folding knife whose handle is adorned with raised-relief flowers; a pick; and a small scoop. Several utensils are now missing and it is likely that one was a tiny fork.”
  • Met 35.102a-h, gold and moss agate, British, c. 1750-1760
  • V&A E.897:72-1988, design for an enamelled and stone-set chatelaine, c. 1755
  • V&A M.4:1 to 5-2004, gold, chased and embossed, London, 1755-1756; “Gold chatelaine from which are suspended a watch, an étui for snuff containing a spoon and a watchkey, and a further étui … The chatelaine and the watchcase are decorated with figure scenes. On the chatelaine there are scenes from the life of King David as described in the Bible. On the watchcase is a scene of Angelica and Medoro carving their initials in a tree, taken from the epic Orlando Furioso by the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto.”
  • Manchester 1953.357, 1755-1760
  • Antique-Watch A8164, c. 1760; “gilt toy chatelaine and watch. Small gilt watch with chased and engraved back, white enamel dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and hands. Small chased and engrave clip, two short chains supporting the watch and two other chains, one with a key.”
  • Antique-Watch A8165, c. 1760; “cut steel chatelaine with oval enamel portrait. Openwork steel buckle decorated with faceted cut steel pins supporting six cut steel chains. The centre two for the watch and the other four with Accessories. One a gilt filigree owl, a stone set gilt seal and a very unusual small pen knife in the form of a tortoiseshell covered shoe.”
  • PHM A4959, repousse copper finished in gilt, France, c. 1760
  • V&A M.16-1932, a gold watch and chatelaine set with topazes and diamonds, Paris, c. 1760
  • V&A E.897:78-1988, design for the upper section of a chatelaine, Paris, c. 1760 (see also V&A E.897:79-1988 for coordinating watch)
  • Examples at the Musée Hyacinthe Rigaud: 4-2, 6-2, 8-2, 14-2, 15-2, 16-2, 17-2, 18-2, 24-2
  • V&A LOAN:GILBERT.336-2008, a chatelaine and watch with gold and enamel, Vienna, c. 1760; “Suite comprising snuffbox, etui, chatelaine and watch. The oval snuffbox is enamelled en plein with six opaque reserves of flowers painted against a mauve ground, bordered by wreaths of translucent green foliage and blue flowers, all over chased radiating lines and chevrons; a concealed hinge runs across the rear of the cover and the box has a flaring thumbpiece. The etui is of flattened oval section, enamelled en plein with four reserves of fruit, flowers and exotic birds within similar wreaths of translucent green and blue; it contains a knife with one gold and one steel blade, a snuff spoon, a toothpick, an earpick, a propelling pencil, scissors and ivory tablets. The chatelaine is formed as a spray of flowers enamelled in opaque colours with translucent green foliage and tied with translucent blue ribbon in three hinged sections from which hangs a watch painted en suite. Its white enamel dial has Roman hours and Arabic minutes and blued steel hands.”
  • PMA 1975-140-144, chatelaine with etui, enamel on copper, England, c. 1760-1765
  • V&A M.261B-1975, England, 1760-1770; “Gold chatelaine decorated with transluscent dark blue enamel flowers and riveted to pinchbeck”
  • V&A E.897:53-1988, designs for neoclassical chatelaines, Paris, c. 1760-1780
  • Met 24.80.61a-k, nécessaire and châtelaine in enameled copper, Staffordshire, c. 1760-1780
  • V&A E.897:74-1988, a design for chatelaine and étui, Paris, c. 1765
  • Met 49.93.9, a design for an enameled watchcase and chatelaine with mythological figures, c. 1766 (?)
  • V&A C.492:1 to 7-1914, gilt metal with painted enamel, West Midlands, c. 1765-1775; “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.”
  • Met 17.190.1439 a-c, a watch and chatelaine probably by Francis Perigal, London
  • V&A M.61-1962, a steel chatelaine with colored gold decoration, England, c. 1770
  • MoL NN2742, c. 1770-1790
  • PHM 86/1673, and 86/1674, chatelaines with jasper/cut steel mounts, Wedgwood, England, c. 1770-1790
  • Met 32.75.33, a gold watch and chatelaine with agate, diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and carnelian, Regensburg, c. 1775
  • British Museum 1978,1002.414.a, France, c. 1775-1776; “Three coloured gold and silver chatelaine with applied ornament on the hook-plate in the form of symbols of love, Cupid and doves at analtar with a flaming heart, four cartouches decorated with trophies terminating in a suspension hook with a watch, others with watch-keys, a minute compartmented, engraved writing case decorated with baskets of flowers. Inside the case are ivory writing tablets and a discharge mark. The belt-hook and plate are marked fully marked.”
  • British Museum 1978,1002.414.b, a watch and chatelaine, France, 1775-1776
  • MoL, a gold chatelaine and case watch, c. 1776-1800; “The chatelaine has a large gilded brass hook and each of its hangers has a gilded brass backing. In the centre an oval cartouche contains a painted enamel of a bird on a branch with a border of white enamel dots around the outside. Three chains connect to the lower hanger on which is a painted enamel of a child holding a butterfly. From this hang five chains. Two inner ones are vacant and the centre one holds the watch with white enamel dial and gold hands.”
  • British Museum 1979,0101.1, London, c. 1777-1778; “Gold and enamel cased cylinder watch with dumb quarter-repeat and en-suite chatelaine … Chatelaine with medallions of Roman altar scene, head of Hercules, head of Mercury and a swan, all in neo-classical style.”
  • British Museum M&ME 1979,1-1,1, a gold chatelaine and quarter-repeating watch, both with painted enamels; “purchased by the eminent physician Sir James Napier in 1779 for £63.10s”
  • Sotheby’s Sale N07937, Lot 120, a chatelaine hook “engraved with a coronet over an oval engraved with a flaming heart and JE SUIS BLESE and with the poinçons”
  • PMA 1964-130-2, a chatelaine hook, Philadelphia, 1780
  • V&A M.268-1975, silver and gold chatelaine with marcasite and red glass pastes, Switzerland, c. 1780
  • V&A M.60-1962, steel chatelaine with colored gold decorations, Tula, c. 1780
  • Heritage Auctions 2013 May 21, Lot 58338, An. Landwing Augsburg Silver Repousse Verge With Chatelaine, circa 1780
  • V&A 414:1296-1885, cut-steel beads with blue Wedgwood jasperware and glass, Etruria, c. 1780-1800
  • Fine & Mint 2671, cut steel chatelaine, France, late 18th century; “Five matching attachments to the waist plaque. The tools include a disc shaped pin cushion, a button hook, a thimble holder with steel thimble, a folding corkscrew for perfume bottles and a decorative cut steel attachment made of 5 chatelaines. The chatelaine is in excellent condition with no dents or damage and everything matches. The folding corkscrew works properly. The pin cushion has its original velvet interior. Very good condition with few normal pitting and some rust on the steel due to time.”
  • V&A M.25-1969 cut steel chatelaine with jasper plaques, Soho, 1785
  • Met 1984.1175.1 and 1984.1175.4, designs for etuis and chatelaines
  • Antiques & Uncommon Treasure 808gldetui, France, late 18th or early 19th century; “a splendid old Chatelaine complete with the belt hook and the 'necessaire' or etui that holds a charming array of early traveler's items … A snuff spoon, a small knife, a tweezer/toothpick combination tool and a long punch or bodkin-like tool with an ear wax spoon on one end.”
  • SPNEA 1948.128, London, c. 1797; “Gold colored metal (possibly pinchbeck) chatelaine with two miniature paintings on ivory, belt hook is set with an oval miniature depicting a woman in a white dress holding red flowers sitting by an urn and a child or cherub is sitting behind her, the second miniature hangs from three chains from the hook and depicts a woman standing in front of a marble bust on a stand, the second miniature supports four shorter chains (one missing) terminating in loops for the attachment of objects, both miniatures are framed by a row of faceted cut steel beads, cut steel beads are also set on the chains.”
  • Met 2011.580.1, a chatelaine with a calendar, steel and enameled gold, France, probably late 18th century
  • Met 32.75.34 ab, gold, enamel, and steel, Swiss (?), late 18th century
  • British Museum 1978,1002.1167, silver with foiled pastes, England, late 18th century
  • British Museum 1978,1002.1119, cut-steel, England, late 18th century
  • British Museum 1978,1002.404, late 18th century. “Three-coloured gold chatelaine with five suspension hooks bearing needlework implements, a pair of scissors with a sheath on a chain, a thimble in a case, a screw-top lid for a missing needle-case, and two egg-shaped compartments with hinged lids. The hook-plate is decorated in applied coloured gold with a scene of a dog mourning at a tomb. The other elements are decorated with applied flowers and trophies on an engraved ground. Three oak leaves and mark on the hook.”
  • Pook & Pook 1/11/2008, Lot 570, “Pennsylvania silver mounted silk thread covered pin ball with chatelaine and hook, inscribed 'F.G. 1803', together with 3 similar pin balls.”

Depictions of equipage, etc.