What is a 19th century Chatelaine?

What the heck is it you're asking me now, Amy? You were given a gift by the lady of the house where you live in the 1800s. And you have no idea what it's for, huh.
Okay, show me one.


Okay. So it looks like something you attach to a belt and it has chains and things like keys, thimbles and scissors hanging from it.
Sounds like what you've been given is a Chatelaine. It's meant to hook onto the waistband of your dress. Oh, I totally hear you - you've got enough around your waist what with the corset, crinoline and massive dress. But the fact is, the lady of the house is giving you more responsibility and entrusting you with these items so you can help around the house. Looks like it's time to go mend or fix someth


Don't be like that. 

When you think about it, the lady of the house must have a lot of trust in you. Just think of it as a compliment. These keys will enable you to open locked things, right? Who knows what you'll discover? In the 19th century, locks were common on things such as desks, chests, pantries, storage containers and cabinets. Now you'll be able to see exactly what's in them. 

Really, Amy, it makes much more sense to keep busy while you're stuck in the past, rather than simply laze around.

The word "chatelaine" was first used in 1828 in a London magazine to describe the new accessory. These chatelaines signified an upper crust status of the lady of the home.
Many jewellers such as Tiffany's created sought-after chatelaines, some embedded with jewels such as diamonds. Some carried attached fans for summer weather, others carried tiny purses, penknives or eyeglass containers. Simpler, more affordable chatelaines were made from simple metals.

You will see that the specific needs of a lady in the 19th century are reflected in her chatelaine. Nurses, for instance, need to carry equipment such as safety pins and thermometers.

Most chatelaines consist of some kind of a medallion at the top, with a metal piece that hooks over the waistband of dresses. 
As you must have noticed by now, fashion in the 19th century adheres to the carrying of only tiny purses, creating the need for an alternate way to tote around required items.