Women In Chains

A silver chatelaine from 1809, with a needle case, a heart-shaped pin box, and a pair of scissors.

We walk around with a smorgasbord of gadgets on our person. An iPhone in our pocket; a pair of chunky Beats headphones, plugged into our ears; an iPod, in another pocket; a lanyard, displaying our work I.D., wrapped around our necks like a noose; a tablet, balanced on our palms. Plus, with a cloudburst of apps, we feel that our needs are better served today than ever before.

Hold that thought.

The chatelaine, an accessory worn by 19th century women, was quite a fine portable device that we could well bring back.

Carried by every member of the society, from mistresses to maids, it was a clasp, with many short chains that affixed to the waist a woman’s dress that bore a litter of little tools. A busy seamstress may keep a sewing kit, a thimble, a measuring tape. A nurse may have a thermometer and safety pins.

Sure, it jangled a lot when a lady moved. But it enabled her to have her gadgets close at hand. We, on the other hand, often can’t find what we need, when we need it.



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