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The most functional jewelry prize goes to...


The beloved, forgotten chatelaine. I adore thee. With scissor and thimble for the seamstress so nimble. With silver key for the manor's lady.

Okay, I remember why I stopped writing poetry in middle school.

Chatelaines were originally fancy key rings for the lady of the house. Spices, linens, even clothes would be kept under lock and key. The master's shirts would often cost more than a chambermaid made in a quarter.

Housekeepers soon added other practical items, and then seamstresses pricked up the trend. Sewing chatelaines could be made with cheap tin for a working girl or be embellished with garnets and filigree for a noblewoman who enjoyed embroidery. Many fancy chatelaines were broken apart, with the top sold as a brooch when the fashions changed.

This lovely example survived because it was steel. Can you guess what everything is?

Below is a vintage Victorian chatelaine for dancing. There is a dance card, pencil holder, mirror and book-shaped holder for smelling salts or perfume. Best of all, it's for sale.


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