All Finished Young Ladies Have Chatelaines the Carte de Bal (Finishing School Special Extras)

One of the tools Sophronia and her friends often wear in my Finishing School series is the chatelaine, Fashionable Reader.

I used it as a kind of Swiss Army knife for my delightfully deadly young ladies. (Much as I do with the parasol in the Parasol Protectorate and Custard Protocol series.)

Chatelain artemis2apollo-tumblr
edwardian-time-machine-tumblr Silver Chatelaine, 1892

From Wikipedia: A Victorian Lady’s finishing touch ~ the chatelaine.

A chatelaine is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it.

Each chain is mounted with a useful household appendage such as scissors, thimble, watch, key, vinaigrette, household seal, etc.

Chatelaines were worn by many housekeepers in the 19th century and in the 16th century Dutch Republic, where they were typically used as watch chains for the wealthy. Similar jewellery was also worn by Anglo Saxon women, as seen from the burial record, but its function is uncertain.

The name chatelaine derives from the French term châtelaine. 

same source as above


Sterling silver Victorian chatelaine (seamstress)


I love looking at these and thinking about what a female spy would carry instead. Poisons or defensive fluids instead of perfume (or as well as) for example…

Chatelaine c 1895 (typical)


shewhoworshipscarlin-tumblr  Chatelaine with calendar, late 1700s, France.


Specifically mentioned in the final Finishing School book, Manners & Mutiny, is the Carte de Bal. Essentially, the Carte de Bal is a Chatelaine specifically designed to go to a dance.


French fashion doll 1865 carte de bal


CarteDeBalArtNeauvuChateline ebay sale
same as above
Carte de Bal  1890s  Sotheby’s

Let’s play Spot That Chatelaine…

Lace (via Dennis A. Waters Fine Daguerreotypes)

(via Standing Women Dressed Alike | Photograph | Wisconsin Historical Society)

c. early 1900s


More on the history of the chatelaine: Show & Tell: A 19th Century Chatelaine

Chatelaine (USA), ca. 1860; silver, gold wash, ivory, enamel, glass. Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian Institution


In addition to the chatelaine Sophronia utilizes a number of hair ribbons in the final Finishing School book. I found these two quotes to go with…

“High-coloured ribbons, flowered or figured, are decidedly vulgar.”

~ The Ladies’ Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie’s Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

“Low-priced ribbons, for instance, are generally flimsy, tawdry, of ugly figures, and vulgar colours,—soon fading, and soon “getting into a string.”

~ The Ladies’ Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners or, Miss Leslie’s Behaviour Book by Eliza Leslie (American 1864)

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This post originally appeared on Retro Rack.

Yours in dangly goodness,

Miss Gail

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