Monday, May 16, 2016

Is it Equipage or Chatelaine? What do we hang our Watches from?

The terms equipage, chatelaine, watch chain, or watch fob seem to be used by many for the same thing and for the same time periods.  I decided to find out the definition for these in period dictionaries to confirm the correct usage and possibly when they changed since my last post on watch chains in June of last year.  You can find it at this link.

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds
Opening up my personal copy of A Dictionary of the English Language..." by Samuel Johnson, L.L. D. dated 1756 defines:

"Fob (from the German suppe) - a little pocket.

Equip (from the French equipper) – To fit a ship for sea. Bp Patrick. To furnish for a horse, man, or cavalier.  To furnish, to accouter, to dress out.”

Equipage (from equip) - furniture for an horseman;  a carriage of state; vehicle. Milton.  Attendance; retinue; accoutrements.”

Then we have the New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language ...: To which is Prefixed, a Comprehensive Grammar, Volume 1, by John Ash dated 1775 whose definitions are not far from Dr. Johnson's so in the sake of expediency will not include them below unless there is a significant difference.

"Chain - a number of links fashioned one with another..." (Ash)

Equipment (from equip) – the act of equipping; accoutrement; equipage.” (Ash)

"Ribbon - a riband." (Ash)

"Riband - ...a narrow web of silk chiefly worn for ornament..." (ash)

"String - a small cord; a slender rope; a thread on which anything is filed..." (Ash)

"Seal (from the Lat. sigllum) - a stamp engraved with some particular impression; the impression made by a stamp in wax; an act of confirmation." (Ash)  

(There is no definition for "chatelaine" in either dictionary.  Hum.)

French Print from Costume Close-Up by Linda Baumgarten, John Watson, and Florine Carr

I find no definition for a "watch chain" but do find for a watch and chain separately.

"Watch - ...A pocket clock; a small clock moved by a spring. Hale." (Johnson)

Now we are getting somewhere!  A pocket clock.  Very interesting.

Pocket Clock and key from my personal collection

So now I look at pocket, but there is no definition for a pocket clock.  We already know that a "fob" is a little pocket and a watch is a clock that goes into the pocket.  Check.

"Clock - The instrument that tells the house by a stroke upon the bell. Bacon. It  is an usual expression to say What is it of the clock, for What hour is it?  Or ten o'clock for the tenth hour.  The clock of a stocking: the flowers or inverted work around the ancle. An insect, a sort of beetle.  The sound which the hen makes in calling her chickens."  (Johnson)

"Hang - be displayed, to show aloft. be dangle." (Johnson)

"Pocket - The small bag inserted into clothes.  Prior. A pocket is used in trade for a certain quantity; as, as a pocket of hops, because it is a poke or sack."  (Johnson)

"Watchmaker - One whose trade is to make watches, or pocket-clocks. Moxon" (Johnson)

Pocket watch made by Jean-Antoine Lepine, watchmaker to King Louis XVI.  
Courtesy of

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor mention the following as a description for the watch chain:

"Mount Vernon, November 28, 1785.
Sir: I request the favor of you to send me for the use of Mrs. Washington, a handsome and fashionable gold watch, with a fashionable chain or string, such as are worn at present by Ladies in genteel life.  These to be paid for, as the other things are, from the fund in the Bank. I am, etc.  P.S. Let the hour and minute hands be set with Diamonds.
[Note 17: From the "Letter Book" copy in the Washington Papers.]

How did ladies wear their gold watches?  My take on it is that they hung from the petticoat with a hook (decorative or plain) with their accroutements on each side or with the pocket clock.  Men put their pocket clock in their fob, and the accroutements hung outside to counter balance the watch.  I have seen chain and ribbon used in portraits and prints.

Galerie des Modes, 17e Cahier, 6e Figure 1779

1787 Le Magasin in detail, Museum of London

Mount Vernon, September 25, 1793.
My dear Sir: I have not written to you since we parted, but had just set down to do it when your letter of the 13th. instt. was brought to me from the Post Office in Alexandria…Mrs. Washington having decided to let Nelly Custis have her watch and chain, is disposed to receive substitutes in lieu thereof at about 25 guineas price; and leaves the choice of them to you. The plainness of the watch &ca. she will not object to. 120 dollars in Bank notes are inclose[d] for the purchase of them."

1786, December, Magasin des Modes

Hugh Douglas Hamilton, R.H.A., Arthur Hill, 2nd Marquess of Downshire 1785-90 pastel

The Oxford Dictionary says that the word Chatelaine has a mid-19th century French origin. So the use of that word for something that you hang a watch from or even other accroutements (i.e., needle case, pin ball, thimble, scissors, keys, etc.) may be incorrect to use for anything before the mid-19th century.  I have also read in the Dictionary of Fashion History that this was from the 1840's onward.

The American Dictionary for the English Language dated 1828 on-line – mentions that chain is “a string of twisted wire, or something similar, to hang a watch on, and for other purposes.” 

A Universal and Critical Dictionary of the English Joseph Emerson Worcester, Wilkins, Carter, and Company dated 1850 has no “chatelaine” listed.  The definitions for the chain doesn't mention a watch; however, it does have a definition for a watch case and watch glass.

So, to sum this up, I would keep it simple when using these terms, and I would not use "chatelaine" unless you are doing a Civil War impression or later impression.  

Using many of the terms interchangeably, i.e., watch chain, watch fob, watch seal, watch string, etc.,  would be acceptable!  

A good slide show with examples of watches, chain, seals, etc., can be found on the 18th Century Material Culture Resource Center's page along with their provenance here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Young Martha Washington

     Colonial Williamsburg is bringing in interpreters as our founding fathers and mothers in their younger days.  Katharine Pittman has brought back, in a wonderful way, the Young Martha Washington.  I have been watching photos come out of her wearing a couple of types of riding habits (she loves horses and rides herself by the way), and other lovely clothes that a younger Martha would have worn.  When I came across her wearing the Gray Horse "La Bella" earrings (I later found out were a gift to her from a mutual friend), the first thing I thought was how well they went with the riding habit!  An excellent choice and one that I would highly recommend.

     I think it is awesome that we can encounter and talk with them!  I hope to meet up with her during one of my visits to Colonial Williamsburg.

Katharine Pittman as the Young Martha
(Photo by Cindy McEnery)

Photo by Fred Blystone

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Photos from my event at Mount Vernon!

   Thank you so much to all who came and supported me at Mount Vernon (and Fort Frederick for that matter).  Looking forward to seeing everyone again soon!  Don't forget that you can browse items for sale on my Etsy shop.

The Shop

The Shop

The Brigadier on Jack

Me in front of His Excellency's House

Travelling Nelson and Belle

Kerry and I

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mount Vernon Revolutionary War Reenactment, 30 Apr to 1 May 2016

     I am all set up on the Bowling Green at George Washington's Mount Vernon!  I will be selling my jewelry there on 30 April to 1 May.  If you are in the area, come on by.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Fort Frederick Market Fair, 20 - 24 April 2016

     I am off to the largest 18th Century Market Fair on the East Coast of the U.S. to sell my jewelry.  My ETSY shop will be closed until I return on Monday, 25 April.

     If you want to contact me in the meantime, send an e-mail to

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Necklaces Through Portraiture and Their Popularity - Part II

Necklaces Through Portraiture and Their Popularity - Part 2
by Kimberly K. Walters

          We transition from part 1 of my blog post in February. This part focuses on the 18th century. There were a lot of changes and discoveries taking place in the new and old worlds that included the relationships between countries and their people. What happened politically affected almost every aspect of people's lives, which included trade, imports, and exports.

  As fashions in dress evolved, so, too, did fashions in jewelry. I have always heard and read that fashions emerged from the whims and fancies of the monarchy and the gentry classes, with the middling and lower classes copying the looks.

   Diamond mines discovered in Brazil in 1725 replaced India as a source for this most eternal of gemstones, and their availability increased. Jewels set with pastes (stones made of a hard lead glass cut to resemble diamonds) were also very sought after and their novelty enabled experiments with cutting that were not yet tried with diamonds.  

   Towards the end of the century, diamonds and gold were less popular than semi-precious and precious gemstones due to their cost, and alternative materials were being introduced such as the paste as we mentioned, rock crystal, pinchbeck, faux gold, etc.

     There were also new dictates in fashion, and these will be our focus when it comes to necklaces of this period. While I love to look at original pieces, many have been reset, reconfigured, and altered so they are no longer in their original state. Fortunately, while the configuration, clasp, or chain may have been replaced, the "bones," as I call them, truly show the details we need.

     In my studies, I have learned that necklaces were often fastened with ribbon or clasps (what they called "lockets"). These lockets were boxed to allow the entry of a spring catch, and were made in various shapes (oval, round, heart, etc.)—usually in gold, although silver is also seen. The lockets often had holes drilled through for the fastening of chains or beads, or rings soldered to them for the same purpose. Beads were often threaded and sewn to the ribbon ends. The necklaces that I make with rings on the ends are an alternative that allows someone to just change out a ribbon versus owning multiple strands of pearls with different colored ribbon ends.

Mrs. Joseph Mann by John Singleton Copley, 1753, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Detail from Portrait of a Woman, 1745, by Johann Ulrich Schellenberg, Wikimedia

     So, what was in fashion? New trends in necklaces in the early part of the 18th century seem to have been few and far between. I'm not saying they weren't worn, but the portraits I have come across from around 1700 to the 1740s either show just pearls, ribbon/lace, or nothing on the subjects' necks. This could be due to a couple of reasons. The first is that I'm not seeing all portraits, and the second is that many I have seen show the women in "fantasy" gowns (dressed from the artists' imaginations, or using a template they brought with them—often with a classical or historical theme—that simply required the addition of the sitter's face and other features).

     That leads me to wonder whether the jewelry in these portraits are "fantasy" as well? The focus seems to be on the clothing and hair. There are lots of flowers or jewels adorning the hair and clothing—possibly remnants from the 17th century—and pearls hang from the ears, but not much is seen around the neck. I wish it were all real!!!

Lady in a Lavender Dress by Michael Dahl, ca. 1700-1710
Wrapping gown with no jewelry

Marie Anne de Bourbon Condé by Gustaf Lundberg, 1720
No necklace, possible fantasy gown - I want her waist

          Necklaces in ribbon, lace, fur, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones (amethyst, amber, cornelian, garnets, diamonds, etc.), hair, cut steel, marcasite, gold beads, chain, and red coral are seen in portraiture of this era. These are not the only materials that they had, as there is so much in original pieces that we also see in glass (Vauxhall and Tassies come to mind), faux pearls, agate, cameos, intaglios, Wedgwood, iron, mosaics ... and I could go on.

styles of necklaces range from the bib, choker, collar and swag to the festoon, fretwork patterns and bolo, just to name a few. These styles go in and out of fashion as each decade passes. I hope that everyday women wore what they loved, not just what the fashion of the decade tended to be; or that they wore pieces of jewelry that were gifted to them from family, and were therefore sentimental.

   Miniature portraits also hung from ribbon. The colors of gold and white became a very popular combination towards the last quarter of the century, and gold jewelry embellished with pearls was especially in vogue.

     Formal 18th century jewelry was often made into parures (or sets) that had their own special boxes. A parure could consist of up to 16 matching pieces of jewelry, which included the necklace. A demi-parure may have had two or three pieces, of which the necklace was a critical part.  

     So let's go ahead and examine some portraits from the beginning of the century to the end. I have annotated a comment underneath each portrait to describe what I think we are seeing. You are welcome to e-mail me if you see something that I do not, or if you have original examples that can tie to a portrait.    

Elisabeth Farnese by Melendez, 1718-22
Pearl collar necklace with jeweled pendant

17th century emerald and diamond pendant, Spanish c.1650, Courtesy of S.J. Phillips

A painting of two girls from around 1720-30, (Source unknown)
Ribbon necklaces

Anna Elisabeth von der Shulenburg-Beetzendorf, Antoine Pesne, 1730
Pearl necklace with pearl bow pendant and ribbon tie

Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Habsburg  by Rosalba Carriera, 1730, Google Art Project
No necklace - diamond decoration on the gown stomacher

Frances Arnold by William Hogarth, 1738-1740 (Courtesy of BBC)
Pearl choker with ribbon tie

Magdalena Douw (Mrs. Harme), by John Heaton, 1740, Wintertur
Intricate pearl choker

Miss Mary Edwards by William Hogarth, 1742, The Frick Collection
Pearl choker with diamond stomacher style pendant

Source Unknown

María del Carmen Cortés y Cartavio, Peru, circa 1750, Denver Art Museum
Three strand pearl collar with what looks like a cut steel or diamond cross

18th century table cut diamond cross pendant, Iberian c.1710, S.J. Phillips

Henrietta Diana, Dowager Countess of Stafford, Allan Ramsay, 1759, Glasgow Museums
Ooohhhh - Fur choker

Portrait of a Lady by a student of Alexander Roslin, circa 1760
Possibly multiple strands of garnets

Portrait of a Lady by Thomas Frye, Courtauld Gallery, 1761
Glorious pearls in a bib necklace with pendant and ribbon tie

Mrs. Andrew Lindington by Joseph Wright of Derby, c.1761-2
Pearl choker and bib necklace with a pendant drop AND ribbon necklace combination with a ribbon tie

Anne Fairchild Bowler (Mrs. Metcalf Bowler) by John Singleton Copley,  ca. 1763, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Lovely sapphire collet choker with cluster pendant drop

An 18th century paste necklace with oval mixed-cut “aquamarine” colored pastes suspending a central pear shaped and circular paste four stone drop, to a velvet fastener, in gilt metal mounts with colored foil backs
Courtesy of Christies

Mrs. Barnard Elliott Jr. (Mary Elizabeth Bellinger) by Jeremiah Theus, 1767, Wikimedia Commons
Garnet choker with pendant drop in a bow and teardrop shape
Garnets were very popular, even Martha Washington had a gorgeous garnet necklace

A Queen Anne original garnet necklace, circa 1770, densely set with faceted and rose-foiled almandine garnets, in a gilt metal setting. The necklace has a detachable pendaloque drop and tapers to ribbon fittings at either end. 
Courtesy of Rowan and Rowan

Maria Josepha of Austria, Anton Raphael Mengs, 1767, Wikimedia Commons
Silk Ribbon and bow with ribbon tie

Detail of Queen Charlotte by Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1769, Wikimedia Commons
     Pearl bib necklace with pearl teardrop pendants with ribbon tie

Detail of Maria Josepha of Austria, Anton Raphael Mengs, 1767, Wikimedia Commons
Combination lace, pearls, and diamond or paste choker with ribbon tie

Mrs Bedingfield and Her Daughter by Thomas Gainsborough, 1760-1770, Wikimedia Commons
Black ribbon choker with pearl ovals and ribbon tie

Mrs Gavin Lawson by John Hesselius, 1770  Dewitt Wallace Museum
Pearl bib necklace in multiple strands

Dorothea Maria Lienau by Jens Juel , 1772, Wikimedia Commons
Single strand of pink pearls with ribbon tie

Mrs John Dart by Jeremiah Theus, circa 1772-74, Metropolitian Museum of Art
Multiple strand necklace, possible fantasy gown

Sophie Friederike, Sammlung Christian Ludwig, Herzog zu Mecklenburg, by Georg David Matthieu, circa 1774, Wikimedia Commons
Double strand collet necklace in a swag or bib
I have seen collet necklaces as fairly early in portraiture for the 18th century

Unknown Lady (Possibly Mrs. Fitzhugh Green) by  John Durant  circa 1768-1770, Wikimedia Commons
Collet neckace, lace and teardrop pendant and possible knotted ribbon necklace with miniature in a heart pendant

Lucy Skelton Gilliam or Mrs Robert Gilliam by John Durand circa 1780, Dewitt Wallace Museum
Velvet choker with a ribbon bolo style necklace with silver lace and portrait miniature pinned over the heart

Adélaïde Genet, Madame Auguié, by Anne Vallayer-Coster, circa 1781, Wikimedia Commons
Pearl necklace in a bolo style with a miniature hanging from the end

Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Gainsborough, circa 1782, Wikimedia Commons
Ribbon bolo style necklace with portrait miniature

Lady in Chemise Dress with Blue Sash, 1785, Tansey Miniature Collection
Cornelian or red coral necklace?

Attributed to Andrés López, María Francisca Esquivel y Serruto, México, 1786, Wikimedia Commons
Pearl choker with teardrop pearl pendant

Mrs. James Courtney by James Earl, 1794, Wikimedia Commons
Chain festoon necklace

Matilda Stoughton de Jaudenes by Gilbert Stuart, 1794, Wikimedia Commons
Festoon pearl and red gems (rubies or garnets?)

Rebecca Pritchard (Mrs. William Mills) and Eliza Shrewsbury by James Earl, 1794-1796, Winterthur
Pearl swag necklace and gold bead necklace

Elizabeth DePeyster Peale by Charles Wilson Peale, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1798
Ribbon necklace with miniature

     Next:  Necklaces in the 19th Century!

7000 Years of Jewelry, edited by Hugh Tait, Firefly Books, 2006
Jewelry in America 1600-1900, Martha Gandy Fales, Antique Collector's Club, 1995
Antique Jewelry University On-Line (
Georgian Jewelry by Ginny Reddington Dawes, Antique Collector's Club, 2007