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Lorgnettes & Chatelaines

For years, ladies wore necessary and useful implements clasped to the waist of their dresses because clothing was not made with pockets for carrying such items. They were usually worn suspended from a clip or large brooch with chains and hooks to hold the various implements, although later chatelaines could be worn on a finger ring. Fashioned of both precious and non-precious metals, they could be extremely simple or ornamented with embossed work, pierced work and gem stones. They were fashioned in a wide variety of materials: gold, sterling, gold wash, cut steel and enameled and jeweled.

Chatelaines might be comprised of items all used for one task…sewing, for instance… or combined with various items that suited the wearer. Some were matching sets like the cut steel chatelaines and others were compiled over time by the owner, especially the sterling chatelaines. Belt chatelaines or waist hooks were also used to hold a purse, as seen in the vintage photograph above. Most fashionable from about 1870 to World War I, they remain popular with collectors today.

Lorgnettes were made in a wide variety of materials: sterling, karat gold, gold wash, tortoise, ivory, mother-of-pearl and lovely enameling and gem stones. Those with a strong design sense (for example Art Nouveau or Arts & Crafts) are most desirable. Some collectors have their own prescription mounted into an old lorgnette so that they are actually useable.

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