My lovely Mum collected thimbles – over 400 in all – in sizes from child to man-size, all materials from leather to silver to serpentine, all types from sewing to sailors’ and from wherever she and Dad travelled. She displayed them on the walls in old print drawers. Her collection is wonderful and unique and I still have it. We tried to offer it to the Royal Cornwall Museum but they weren’t interested! Not enough of the thimbles were Cornish.
Among the thimbles are several thimble holders but today I want to focus, not on the thimbles themselves, but on the beautiful and unique Chatelaine that is amongst this treasure trove.
A Chatelaine, according to Wikipedia, 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.”
As you can see, ours has the belt clasp with five chains hanging from it. Each of the items is detachable with a little spring hook holding them in place. From left to right here are – a sheath for a tiny pair of scissors, a notebook, a pencil, a tiny bucket to hold a thimble and a pin / needle cushion. The little buckets are lined with dark blue velvet and the edge of the pin cushion in the same fabric. The metal is silvery in colour and beautifully tooled. Each of the links of the chain is like a little leaf and the clasp has a tiny five petalled flower in the middle. Do click on the gallery photos to see all the glorious detail.
The name Chatelaine comes from the French, chatelaine meaning Lady of the Manor. Chatelaine came to mean this gorgeous ‘tool belt’ that the woman of the house needed to have on her so as to be able to carry out running repairs as she strolled about the Manor! Spot a frayed edge on a curtain? Make a note for someone else to do it or trim it there and then and stitch it up!
I like to think that this one is for the seamstress of the house, containing all one would need to be doing the mending or embroidering something beautiful.
The Chatelaine polishes up well but tarnishes very quickly Much of the silvering has been polished away over the years. I don’t know how old it is or how my Mum came to have it. She didn’t use it but had it hanging on the wall and in my mind’s eye I am taken back to the sitting room where it was, where the Grandfather clock was nearby and can see my Mum and Dad sitting with a cup of coffee each and doing the crossword together.
If anyone out there knows any more about Chatelaines, I’d love to hear from you.
March 25, 2013 at 8:21 pm
Thanks for sharing…n visiting my blog dear
March 26, 2013 at 10:42 am
My pleasure! 🙂
home, garden, life
February 26, 2013 at 10:43 pm
Looks like we both are reflecting on our mums of late! Thanks for sharing!
February 16, 2013 at 12:13 am
Oh! how beautiful …
February 16, 2013 at 2:34 pm
Thank you! It is a lovely piece to have. 🙂
February 5, 2013 at 10:56 am
Not only unique.., exquisite!! Such a precious treasure 🙂
February 4, 2013 at 5:08 pm
February 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm
Thank you 🙂
February 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm
Sally – I used to bring my South Crofty tin pieces back to my brother Jon (Sue’s Pip) to repolish, then I discovered that I can paint them will clear nail polish instead of the special jeweller’s coating to preserve the shine. Try it on your least important piece to see if you like it.
February 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm
Thank you for that tip! I will 🙂
February 6, 2013 at 9:26 am
hello – Mum has a Cornish tin thimble in her collection so I’ve just been looking up her records and it was “handmade to order” by Joe Merrick in 1981! I had been so hoping it might have been made by your brother! 🙂
February 3, 2013 at 8:28 pm
A beautiful, unique tool indeed. I knew a chatelaine was a lady of the manor but I didn’t know it was also her tool. Lovely.
February 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm
Isn’t it? Thank you for your comments and for your visit! Much appreciated. 🙂
Heidi @ lightlycrunchy
February 3, 2013 at 8:12 pm
Beautiful! I might even try to find a way to wear it.
February 6, 2013 at 9:27 am
I think I’ll try that… 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
February 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm
So much beauty and family history 😀
February 3, 2013 at 6:29 pm
Beautiful pieces especially the pen. That would feel great to use, touching the past.
February 6, 2013 at 9:28 am
You are right. I love using the tools of the past and knowing that my Mum, my Granny and others before them touched and used the same things, also while making stuff. 🙂
February 3, 2013 at 5:58 pm
wow! that’s all i can say. and that i’m so looking forward to see your mom’s collection 🙂
February 3, 2013 at 6:01 pm
Than’s very kind of you to say so! As said earlier, polishing them all is a few days work so it won’t be a soon post! 🙂
February 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm
Fascinating design, both form and function.
February 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm
Beautiful! I’ve never heard of a Chatelaine before! Thank you for sharing this beautiful item and teaching me something! 🙂
February 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm
Me too! Very interesting and beautiful collection.
February 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm
I had never heard of such…I’m learning every day such wonderful things…This is what I call a “treasure” connected with memories…
February 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm
My mum also collects thimbles! It’s quite the collection, right there with her miniature tea sets and crystal. I think that’s why she loves going to England as regularly as she can. The Cotswolds are great, but the collectibles are the prize.
February 3, 2013 at 11:25 am
Wow, the chatelaine is really beautiful, what a treasure. I have often heard of them but today you have shown me exactly what they are – thanks so much for this post. I would think there would be a lot of museums that would have been happy to accept the thimbles. I hope you will be showing us the thimbles as well 🙂 Yvonne (aka Tartanpants lol!)
February 3, 2013 at 11:33 am
I had to approve this comment! You would have thought they’d have snatched my hand off wouldn’t you? Actually, I offered them in the throes of grief and needing to clear -do you know what I mean? Now, I am very glad they didn’t want them as I still have them. I think I would have regretted giving them away. Sharing them all out among the family always seemed wrong to all of us, breaking up the collection, but I don’t actually display them….
One day I will show them to the world but I’ll have to polish them first and you can imagine how long that will take! 🙂
February 3, 2013 at 11:25 am
Wow, exquisite. What a lovely collection and memory.
February 3, 2013 at 11:26 am
Thank you! 🙂
February 3, 2013 at 11:23 am
Sally that is so beautiful. It is lovely that you treasure your mum’s collections. Xx
February 3, 2013 at 11:27 am
Thank you! I do know how lucky I am to have such treasures and such memories. 🙂