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Châtelaines

A companion for both your pocket watch and your watch fob, châtelaines consisted of one or several chains that extended from a woman’s belt or waistcoat. They were both utilitarian in function and yet unique, as each wearer could infuse her châtelaine with her own personal style.

Derived from the medieval Latin “castellanus,” meaning roughly “the keeper of the castle,” châtelaines appeared as early as the ancient world yet came into great popularity in the 16th century. They were used in part to hold pocket watches but also to keep other essential household tools close at hand.

Over time, the wearing of such chains became a symbol of status and authority, as the keeper of essentials, which grew to include keys to cabinets and doors, was typically relegated to the head master or mistress of the house.


Quick Facts

  • Typical châtelaines suspensions included tools like scissors, thimbles (for mending), or keys. At times these inclusions were more unusual, such as a dangling vial of smelling salts or a whistle
  • Châtelaines were also elegantly adorned, with some decorated with gilding, jewels or porcelain placards. By the late 19th century, most major jewelry houses, from Boucheron to Tiffany, included some sort of châtelaine in their line
  • Though the châtelaine was originally designed to hook on the belt, later versions came equipped with a pin, allowing them to attach to one’s dress similar to a brooch

Recommended Items at Auction

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Chatelaine clips, sewing accessories, etc.
Dec 02, 9:00 AM EST
Chatelaine clips, sewing accessories, etc.
by Pook & Pook Inc.
Est: $140- $240
$1102 Bids
Antique Sterling Silver Chatelaine.
Dec 03, 11:00 AM CST
Antique Sterling Silver Chatelaine.
by Direct Auction Galleries, Inc.
Est: $150- $250
$801 Bid
Museale Miniatur Spieluhr
Dec 16, 10:00 AM CET
Museale Miniatur Spieluhr
by Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen
Est: €1,400- €2,000
€1,4000 Bids
An Edwardian 9 carat gold chatelaine pencil holder, London 1906 by John Collard Vickery
Nov 28, 10:00 AM GMT
An Edwardian 9 carat gold chatelaine pencil holder, London 1906 by John Collard Vickery
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£1600 Bids
2 gilt chatelaines, 19th century, screwed down snap link
Dec 17, 11:00 AM CET
2 gilt chatelaines, 19th century, screwed down snap link
by Henry's Auktionshaus
Est: €200- €400
€800 Bids
IMPORTANT GOLD AND ENAMEL POCKETWATCH CHATELAINE
Nov 28, 4:00 PM GMT
IMPORTANT GOLD AND ENAMEL POCKETWATCH CHATELAINE
by Auction Zero
Est: £3,000- £6,000
£3,0000 Bids
STERLING CHATELAINE SEWING RELATED.
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
STERLING CHATELAINE SEWING RELATED.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids
STERLING CHATELAINE DISCOVERY RELATED.
Dec 07, 10:00 AM EST
STERLING CHATELAINE DISCOVERY RELATED.
by William Smith Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Châtelaines


William Smith Auctions

William Smith Auctions

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen

Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions

Henry's Auktionshaus

Henry's Auktionshaus