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Create a Custom Hatpin

While there is some debate over the date of the original hatpin (vs straight pin),we do know that women have been using pins to secure veils, wimples, hats and bonnets for hundreds of years.  Until 1820 hatpin making in England was a cottage industry in which demand far exceeded supply. One solution was to import crafted pins from France. In order to support Britain’s crafters, in 1820 a law was passed allowing pins to be imported ONLY on January 1 and 2! Some suggest the phrase “pin money” was so called because it was spent by the lady of the house on her hatpins, dress pins and brooch pins!

2008’s The Duchess featured exquisite costumes (and hatpins) by Michael O’Connor. Photo by Nick Wall

All pins were still handmade at this point, and remained so until 1832 when a machine was invented in the United States, which could mass-produce the pins. After this prices dropped considerably as machines made pins were crafted England and France, soon after.

When styles began favoring the hat over the bonnet in the 1880’s, hatpins became both more fashionable and more elaborate. They remained as essential accessory until the age of flapper style bobs and cloche hats made them unnecessary. Still the Edwardian hatpin was regarded as a thing of fear among lawmakers of the day, who passed legislation in 1908 (in the United States) mandating that pins  not exceed 10 inches in length (lest Suffragettes use them as weapons) and later ordering that the ends be capped lest someone be injured by a sharp tip.

Pictures of Regency style pins are in short supply, but I do love this image from Atelier de Modistes Le Bon Genre 28, c.1807, showing a group of young ladies trying on hats and bonnets (Lydia Bennet, anyone?) A look at the woman on the far right shows what appears to be a beaded hatpin stuck safely in place waiting for the next hat or bonnet.

An image from Atelier de Modistes Le Bon Genre 28, c.1807
An image from Atelier de Modistes Le Bon Genre 28, c.1807

From the above illustrations, it appears that Georgian/Regency era pins were less elaborate than their Victorian cousins, featuring one or two beads, instead of the elaborate trimmings and jewels that were to come.

To create your own hatpins, you’ll need:

  • A long, straight pin or hatpin (20 cm is average.) These can be purchased from  Austentation on Etsy. Custom Pins are also available.
  • Metal glue (I like E6000)
  • An assortment of beads and bead caps.
"Blank" hatpins can be purchased from Austentation on Etsy.
“Blank” hatpins can be purchased from Austentation on Etsy.

To make your pin, first add a bead cap, then line up your beads in your chosen order and end with a small bead or cap. Once you have decided on your perfect combination, slide the beads down the pin and add some glue to the pin, where the beads will sit. Slide all but the last the bead back in place, being sure that each one is adhered. Add a small drop of glue to the bottom hole of the second to last bead, slide your final piece into place and allow the pin to dry.

A variety of hatpins can be purchased in our online shop
A variety of hatpins can be purchased in our online shop, while custom pieces can be ordered from Austentation.

Congratulations! A custom piece to complement your period ensemble!

This custom combination was created by Laura Boyle for Austentation: Regency Accessories.
This custom combination was created by Laura Boyle for Austentation: Regency Accessories.

Laura Boyle creates the hatpins available in the Jane Austen Centre shop as well as providing her customers with custom hatpins and supplies along with various other hats, bonnets, reticules and accessories from her shop Austentation: Regency Accessories.

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Create Regency Style Acrostic Jewelry

During the Regency, acrostic jewelry came into vogue. These brooches, rings and other ornaments used gemstones beginning with each letter of the alphabet to spell out sentimental sayings such as LOVE, DEAREST, of REGARD.

Georgian "Regard" brooch, circa 1810.
Georgian “Acrostic” brooch, circa 1810. Jewelers often used the French spelling of the gemstone name when creating their words and phrases, even when the phrases were in English.

First created by the Mellerio Jewelry company (they claim to be the oldest family company in Europe) in Paris in 1809, the idea was mentioned by Étienne de Jouy in an article in an 1811 edition of Gazette de France, which in turn led to the style being adopted in England.

Continue reading Create Regency Style Acrostic Jewelry

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The Fashion of Portrait Miniatures

portrait miniatures

Portrait Miniatures

“Oh, Elinor!” she cried, “I have such a secret to tell you about Marianne. I am sure she will be married to Mr Willoughby very soon.”

“You have said so,” replied Elinor, “almost every day since they first met on Highchurch Down; and they had not known each other a week, I believe, before you were certain that Marianne wore his picture round her neck; but it turned out to be only the miniature of our great uncle.”
Sense and Sensibility

 

In 1761 King George III gave his bride a wedding gift of a tiny portrait miniature of himself. Little did he know he was inspiring a fashion. When the Queen posed for a full-size portrait wearing the miniature on a pearl bracelet, the fashionable of the day took note, and the fad took off.

The upper classes swarmed to have their own miniatures done, and a few artists became known for such work. Richard Cosway was possibly the most prolific and successful miniaturist, counting the Prince of Wales, among many others, as a patron.

Portrait miniatures were being produced all over Europe, but nothing paralleled the popularity it found in Britain, especially between around 1769 to 1830. In short, it was a favored Regency form of expression and decoration. The practice of making miniature portraits began as a way for monarchs and other members of the court to produce likenessess which could be given away, mostly for diplomatic purposes. Less costly than full portraits and much more portable, they were imminently practical in an age without photography. They soon became treasured as precious objects, however, and put in opulent settings of gold, pearls and ivory.

Their sizes ranged from as small as 1×1 and a quarter inch to 7x 4 with every variation in between. Most were oval, but there was variation in shape as well as their manner of being worn close to the body.

portrait miniatures

In addition to a bracelet, for instance, portrait miniatures were often worn as a necklace, on a watch fob, or as a brooch. During the Regency, it was no longer only royalty who commissioned them, but an increasing number of the middle class. The main reason for having or giving one away? To keep loved ones close at heart. What better way to remember one’s love than by sporting the likeness of the beloved? Miniatures were especially popular with sailors who would be at Sea for years on end. Only think of the circumstances surrounding Captain Benwick’s miniature Portrait in Persuasion!

An interesting variation of portrait miniatures was the Lover’s Eye–a tiny portrait of one whole eye! Miniscule and more intimate than a full portrait, the eye was considered the window to the soul–thus being given an eye likeness was a token of intimacy that “outranked” the usual miniature. In addition, even secret lovers could safely exchange these, since anonymity was guaranteed.

portrait miniatures In 1786 the prince of Wales (the future Regent) paid five guineas for eye miniatures of himself and Mrs. Fitzherbert, which were encased in gold lockets. Later the prince had another eye miniature made and even one of his mouth, presumably to give to Mrs. Fitz. And before his death in 1830, though he had abandoned her in life, the King insisted upon being buried with the miniature of Mrs. Fitzherbert around his neck; in effect, close to his heart. The Duke of Wellington, to be safe, checked the corpse before burial. Sure enough, the miniature, set with diamonds, was there.

Other uses for the portrait miniature were as tools for grief and mourning, in which the deceased would be remembered as they were in life; or as statements of deep emotional states, such as melancholia, in which the subject would most likely rest his or her head on one hand. The sentimental usage of miniatures as love tokens or means of remembrance, however, is largely what spurred their popularity in the past, just as photos are wildly popular for such reasons today.

The miniatures’ popularity peaked at about 1830 and then declined quickly with the advent of photography. The caliber of the artwork on them is no less superb than on larger works of art, and today they are museum pieces and heirlooms. Often these little works of sentiment are the only pictoral representation we have of historical figures, like Tom LeFroy, Jane Austen’s first Love. Without Portrait Miniatures he would only be a name lost to history.


Linore Rose Burkard writes Inspirational Regency Romance as well as articles on Regency Life, Homeschooling, and Self-Improvement. She publishes a monthly eZine “Upon My Word!” (website). Ms. Burkard graduated from the City University of New York with a Magna Cum Laude degree in English Literature, and now lives in Ohio with her husband and five children.

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Changing Tastes in Georgian Jewelry

Georgian jewelry was made between 1714 and 1830 during the reigns of the four English kings named George. Varying styles of jewelry were produced during this period.

The styles moved from Rococo during George the first’s reign through Gothic revival and Neoclassical (hearkening back to the Greek and Roman empires). Neoclassical styles reached their height during Napoleon’s reign. Neoclassical was all the rage in both England and France. Napoleon funded extensive excavations at Pompeii creating a vogue for the Neoclassical as more Roman houses and artifacts
were revealed.

All Georgian Jewelry was handmade. This was a period of discovery and innovation. Glass paste copies of real gems were developed as well as a substitute for gold called “pinchbeck” named after its inventor. The early Georgian fashion called for the use of large stones set in an elaborate rococo style.

Cameos, intaglios, mosaic, acorns, the Greek key, Urns, Doves, Phoenix, Wheat, and plumage were all popular Georgian motifs.


Men wore more jewelry in those days than is the custom presently. Miniatures, tiny portraits of a loved one, were already popular. A man’s locket with a secret became a fad during the reign of George III. The first ‘lover’s eye’ locket miniature may have been commissioned by Mrs. Fitzherbert for the Prince of Wales after their secret marriage in 1785. These lockets contained a painting of the eye area and a wisp of hair drooping across the forehead. This miniature was both intimate and anonymous.

Large jewelry in the form of bracelets, index finger rings, girandole earrings, memorabilia jewelry, crosses, hair combs, buckles, aigrettes, and tiaras were favored in Georgian
times. Dog collars or chokers as we call them today were popular in the period 1770 to 1790.

A wreath tiara similar to this one was purchased for Princess Charlotte’s wedding. Parliament granted the Princess the sum of 10,000 pounds for jewelry at her marriage in 1816. She purchased “a most superb wreath of brilliants, forming rosebuds with their leaves, a diamond fastener for her manteau, a diamond cestus, ear-rings, and an armlet of great
value, with a superb set of pearls from Rundell, Bridge & Co.”

At the beginning of the Georgian period diamonds were used to the almost total exclusion of other stones. To meet the increased demand for white stones in the first half of the 18th century, paste, rock crystal, marcasite, and cut steel were employed with increasing sophistication.

Originally, rhinestones were rock crystals gathered from the river Rhine. The availability was greatly increased when around 1775 the Alsatian jeweller Georg Friedrich Strass had the idea to imitate diamonds by coating the lower side of glass with metal powder. Hence, rhinestones are called Strass in many European languages. Strass is known as the creator of the best and most long lasting paste jewelry. Most paste and rhinestones are simply leaded glass made in colors and cuts that mimic gemstones. Because leaded glass has such a nice luster it gives a look similar to a gemstone, particularly at a distance.

Paste diamond imitations made it possible to make inexpensive copies of the real thing to guard against theft by highwaymen. Diamond alternatives were soon produced with such quality that it was entirely respectable for even royalty to wear them.

At this time diamond cutters were introducing exciting new types of gem cuts such as rose cut, cushion, and ‘brilliants’. In the 1750’s colored stones came back into vogue. Then emeralds, rubies, and sapphires were worn again along with new stones like white-imperial-pink topazes, amethyst, chartreuse chrysoberyl, coral, ivory, pearls, and garnets.

Lava, shell, onyx, and carnelian became popular with the introduction of carved classically themed jewelry. This Neoclassical style began with the discovery and excavation of Pompeii in the mid 1700s. Finds there greatly influenced fashion, architecture, interior design, and philosophy and literature. Cameos became very popular after Napoleon had antique Roman cameos placed on his coronation crown for his 1804 coronation.

Bezels, foilbacked stones, low flat goldwork, and cobalt blue and black and white enameling are common features of Georgian jewelry. Georgian pieces can sometimes be detected by the way the stones are mounted. Unlike the open work favored today for gem stones, Georgian gems were often set over gold or silver foil with their backs enclosed with metal as rhinestones generally are today. In more recent jewelry foil backing always indicates a fake stone.

Gold with high karat content was preferred. However, Berlin iron made in that city from 1806 was popular during the Napoleonic Wars as a show of patriotism. Pinchbeck a cheap replacement for gold was used for faux pieces.


Given the uncertainty of life and the state of medicine in those days, it is no surprise that memorial jewelry was common. However, it was not yet such a major force as memorial or hair jewelry was to become by Victorian times when the overcrowding of cities, poor sanitation practices, and plagues would take a terrible toll on families. The strands of hair in this pendant are believed to be Jane Austen’s, taken by her sister Cassandra just before her coffin was closed in 1817.


Reprinted with permission Sharon Wagoner, Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical
tour through Regency London!

Additional information from Wikipedia

“Charles has been buying gold chains & Topaze crosses for us…” – Jane Austen

complete any outfit with this beautiful Topaz cross

  • Inspired by the necklace that Charles Austen gave his sisters in 1801.
  • 18K white gold plated pendant and chain.
  • 5x8mm Yellow Topaz stones with a 4mm White Topaz centre stone.
  • Pendant measures 32 mm x 23 mm
  • Chain measures 47cm / 18″.
  • Comes in a delightful gift bag.
  • The finishing touch to your Jane Austen costume.

 

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Armlets: Regency Arm Candy

Julie Nigris 1799 , by Vigee LeBrun

The bracelets are in my possession, and everything I could wish them to be. They came with Martha’s pelisse, which likewise gives great satisfaction.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
December 9, 1808

During the Regency, there was a mania for everything ancient– Roman, Grecian, Egyptian– part of this exotic look was gained by the use of “armlets”– bracelets made for your upper arm. They are quite common in portraits of the time, and though popular for the decades, show up in fashion magazines and plates particularly from 1809-1818. The following quote, on the wearing of gloves, from Mirror of Graces; or the English Lady’s Costume (1811) shows that they were also used as “garters” to hold up long gloves, if one’s arms were not particularly attractive.

If the prevailing fashion be to reject the long sleeve, and to partially display the arm, let the glove advance considerably above the elbow, and there be fastened with a draw-string or armlet. But this should only be the case when the arm is muscular, coarse, or scraggy. When it is fair, smooth, and round, it will admit of the glove being pushed down to a little above the wrists.

Period portraits show a variety of armlet styles
Period portraits show a variety of armlet styles

The following fashion plates give even more examples of armlets.

Le Beau Monde, May, 1809

A turban a la Greque, of pale yellow and silver, the hair in small ringlets round the face; diamond earrings, and armlets, either with or without necklace. Sack dress of pale yellow, trimmed with silver, white satin shoes, and white kid gloves.
Le Beau Monde, and Monthly Register, 1806-1810
Volume 1 , No. 2 May, 1809

Ackermann's Repository, 1818

From Ackermann’s Repository of The Arts, 1818

Evening Dress:
A black crape frock over a black sarsnet slip: the body is composed of white crape, tastefully ornamented, with deep vandykes of black velvet, each vandyke  finished at the point by a little light ornament of black chenille. Short full sleeves of intermixed black and white crape, fulness drawn to the middle of the arm, confided in three separate folds by vandykes of black velvet. The bottom of the skirt is finished by a row of black velvet vandykes, surmounted  by a large rolueau of white crape, entwined with black chenille; two rows of roses composed of black crape mixed with chenille complete the trimming. Headdress, a white crape toque, is ornamented around the front in chenille and finished by a diadem of white crape roses. Earrings, armlets, necklace and cross composed of jet. Black chamois leather gloves and slippers which are ornamented with  rosettes of white chenille. A black China crape scarf, richly worked at the ends in an embroidery of white flowers, is finished by a black silk fringe.

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Coral Necklaces, Regency Style

 

Remember, I am to have a new Carriage hung as high as the Duttons’, and blue spotted with silver; and I shall expect a new saddle horse, a suit of fine lace, and an infinite number of the most valuable Jewels. Diamonds such as never were seen, and Pearls, Rubies, Emeralds, and Beads out of number…
-Jane Austen
The Three Sisters

Lady Maria Hamilton, 1802, by Thomas Lawrence.

You’ve probably seen the necklaces dozens of times without noticing them. I have. These beautiful single string coral necklaces worn by Regency ladies escaped my attention until my friend and blogging partner on Jane Austen Today, Laurel Ann of Austenprose, sent me some spectacular images, such as the one of Lady Maria Hamilton, who died in 1814, unmarried. Coral has enjoyed a long and ancient tradition, first worn as a talisman and later for its color and beauty. One of my favorite drawings by Peter Paul Rubens depicts his son with a coral necklace. At the time coral was thought to protect the wearer.

Nicolaas Rubens Wearing a Coral Necklace, Peter Paul Rubens, Red and black chalk heightened with white and some black ink on paper, c. 1619

The tradition of giving children coral necklaces continued through the 19th century, as shown in this detail of a late 18th century John Hoppner painting of one of the Sackville girls. The gemstone was considered a guardian of sorts, protecting children from illnesses like stomachaches, fever, typhus, smallpox, and rickets. The mala beads were polished to a smooth sheen and matched in color. Bead sizes could be similar or gradated from small to larger stones that were strung in the center.

The Sackville Children, detail, John Hoppner, 1796

Handmade jewellery created during the late Georgian Era (1760-1837) is extremely hard to find today.  As styles changed, the pieces were remade rather than tossed out or sold. Until the latter part of the 18th century, coral was harvested from the sea largely by dredging. Fine quality red coral came from the Mediterranean – Algeria, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia and the islands of Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily, with some saying that the best corals came off the coasts of Algeria and Tunisia. Eighteenth century coral was a rich warm red and is unavailable today. In fact, original antique jewellery made with dark red coral is so difficult to find that it has become a highly prized collectible.

Jane Elizabeth, Countess of Oxford, John Hoppner, 1797

 

Early 19th century red coral necklace

Simple round necklaces, like the one worn by the Countess of Oxford, were popular and complimented low necklines, but chokers were also fashionable, like the Georgian Cannetille Sardinian red coral four strand necklace on the left. Coral is made up of the skeletal material built up by small animals that live in slow growing colonies in the sea. Colors range from vivid orange, red, and white, to salmon and pale pink (called angelskin coral). In jewelry making coral is either carved into beads, cameos, and other forms, or is left in its natural branch-like form and simply polished. (My mother had such a necklace, which I played with as a child.) The most sought after color (and the rarest) is a deep red, as in the necklace at left.  Coral manufacturing during the Regency Period consisted primarily of filing beads of smoothed coral and stringing necklaces. Because coral consists of calcium carbonate, it is extremely sensitive to chemicals,  perfumes, and body acids. Like pearls, the necklaces must be washed with a damp cloth (no detergents) and restrung periodically.

Little boy placing a coral necklace on a dog's neck, Martin Drolling
Drawing by Jacopo Vignali

Many mystical and medicinal properties were attributed to coral, among them vitality, physical strength, stronger marital relationships, wealth, increased sensuality, and protection while out to sea. Coral was also used as a medicinal powder. Primitive physics believed that coral oxides mixed with honey made a person strong. Mix it with betel leaf and it made a potent cure for cough and heart disease. Coral powder is still a popular aphrodisiac in India today, which prompts avaricious collectors to dynamite coral reefs, putting fragile reefs in acute danger. In the detail of a 17th century drawing by Jacopo Vignali at left, one can easily see why this semi-precious stone was considered to have sensual qualities. The combination of the coral necklace and her full lips make the young woman look both fragile and seductive.

More information about corals can be found in these links:

Modern Regency reproduction coral jewelry is available from Jane Smith’s Regency Collection


Vic Sanborn oversees two blogs: Jane Austen’s World and Jane Austen Today. Before 2006 she merely adored Jane Austen and read Pride and Prejudice faithfully every year. These days, she is immersed in reading and writing about the author’s life and the Regency era. Co-founder of her local (and very small) book group, Janeites on the James, she began her blogs as a way to share her research on the Regency era for her novel, which sits unpublished on a dusty shelf. In her working life, Vic provides resources and professional development for teachers and administrators of Virginia’s adult education and literacy programs. This article was written for Jane Austen’s World and is used here with permission.

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A Cameo Appearance

 

Charlotte was to go: with excellent health, to bathe and be better if she could; to receive every possible pleasure which Sanditon could made to supply by the gratitude of those she went with; and to buy new parasols, new gloves and new brooches for her sisters and herself at the library, which Mr. Parker was anxiously wishing to support.
-Sanditon

Cameos seem as if they belong to the Regency. Often portraying Greek or Roman scenes and faces, they evoke a romantic mood and whispers of a time long past. In reality, though, these charming vignettes of time gone by hearken back over thousands, not hundreds of years.

The word cameo, actually refers to the method of carving an object such as an engraved gem, item of jewellery or vessel. These nearly always feature a raised (positive) relief image (in contrast with intaglio, which has a negative image.) Originally, cameo only referred to works where the relief image was of a contrasting colour to the background; this was achieved by carefully carving a piece of material with a flat plane where two contrasting colours met, removing all the first colour except for the image to leave a contrasting background.

An elaborate cameo necklace and earring set. Part of the Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion traveling exhibit.

Cameos are often worn as jewelry, but in ancient times were mainly used for signet rings, although the largest examples were probably too large for this, and were just admired as objets d’art. Stone cameos of great artistry were made in Greece dating back as far as the 3rd century BC. The Farnese Tazza (a cup) is the oldest major Hellenistic piece surviving. They were very popular in Ancient Rome, especially in the family circle of Augustus. The most famous stone “state cameos” from this period are the Gemma Augustea, the Gemma Claudia made for the Emperor Claudius, and the largest flat engraved gem known from antiquity, the Great Cameo of France.

the Gemma Augustea and the Gemma Claudia made for the Emperor Claudius

During the Roman period the cameo technique was used on artificial glass blanks, in imitation of objects being produced in agate or sardonyx. Cameo glass objects were produced in two periods; between around 25 BC and 50/60 AD, and in the later Empire around the mid-third and mid-fourth century.Roman glass cameos are rare objects, with only around two hundred fragments and sixteen complete pieces known, only one of which dates from the later period. During the early period they usually consisted of a blue glass base with a white overlying layer, but those made during the later period usually have a colourless background covered with a translucent coloured layer. Blanks could be produced by fusing two separately cast sheets of glass, or by dipping the base glass into a crucible of molten overlay glass during blowing. The most famous example of a cameo from the early period is the Portland Vase.

The Portland Vase

Although occasionally used in Roman cameos, the earliest prevalent use of shell for cameo carving was during the Renaissance. In the mid 18th century, explorations revealed new shell varieties. Helmet shells (Cassis tuberosa) from the West Indies, and queen conch shells (Eustrombus gigas) from the Bahamas and West Indies, arrived in Europe. This sparked a large increase in the number of cameos that were carved from shells.

An assortment of vintage cameos

In Britain, this revival first occurred during King George III’s reign. As with many fashion trends of the time, this one was imported from France and stemmed from a heightened interest in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, due to Napoleon’s campaigns in the south. A cameo diadem carved from a single shell, depicting a scene from greek mythology, framed by gold, pearls and precious and semiprecious stones, was a present to Josephine from her brother-in-law Joachim Murat in 1811.

Empress Josephine's cameo tiara

Napoleon, himself, was fascinated by cameos, and as you can see, Josephine, who did nothing by halves, had a large collection of them set in pins, bracelets, combs, and more.

The Empress Josephine painted in a variety of cameo accessories

 

In 1823 the diadem became part Josephine's grandaughter, Josephine of Leuchtenberg's dowry upon her marriage to the future King of Sweden, Oscar I. Now part of Swedish Crown jewels, the tiara has been worn by many royal brides, including Crown Princess Victoria, who married the Duke of Västergötland in 2010.

 

In Britain, King George’s granddaughter, Queen Victoria, was a major proponent of the cameo trend, to the extent that they would become mass produced by the second half of the 19th century. After 1850 demand for cameos grew, as they became popular souvenirs of the Grand Tour among the middle class.

Antique Victorian Cameos

Cameos continue to be popular jewelry subjects for pins, necklaces, rings, hair clips, earrings and more. Both vintage and new models can be found for sale with little searching; perhaps because they evoke a romantic feel…perhaps because they are so innately elegant. However you look at it, though, cameos continue to be one of the longest lasting jewelry trends in history.

Cameo earrings
Cameo earrings

 We have a lovely range of cameo jewellery at our giftshop – click here to visit out market place.


 

A variety of vintage and reproduction cameo jewelry pieces can be found at Austentation: Regency Accesssories and Austenation: Etsy.

Historical information from Wikipedia.com

For more information about France’s Empress Josephine and her love of Cameo jewelry, visit Melanie’s in depth site.

To view more information about the Swedish Crown Jewels, try this page.

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Ladies’ Useful Accessories

From Mamma– A Mariner’s compass
From Aunt– A silver Vinagrette
From Augusta– A gold twisted ring
From Miss Ramsey– A leather purse
Emma Austen Leigh, 1815

During the Regency, friends would exchange small gifts at Christmas or Twelfth Night. These tended to be useful items or homemade tokens of remembrance. They might be accompanied by a riddle or short poem, like the needle bag Jane gave to a friend in 1792:

This little bag, I hope, will prove
To be not vainly made;
For should you thread and needles want,
It will afford you aid.

And, as we are about to part,
‘Twill serve another end:
For, when you look upon this bag,
You’ll recollect your friend.

Chatelaine
Chatelaine, 1765-1775 Victoria and Albert Museum no. C.492:1 to 7-1914, Wikimedia Commons

Jane’s neice, Emma Austen Leigh, kept a diary list of all the gifts she was given over a period of years. It included jewelry, purses, knitting boxes and workbags along with a selection of fashionable accessories and mending tools.

The chatelaine is a device which clips to the waist band or belt of a dress for holding such items as the mistress of the house would need with her throughout the day. It might include her seal, watch, scissors, thimble, a vinaigrette, and a key holder.

Chatelaines were worn by men and women and might be made of silver or steel. They could be as plain or as decorated as the owner wished. The term originally meant the mistress of a large estate or Castle and literally means “the keeper of the keys.”

A vinaigrette is a little tightly sealing box with a second pierced lid inside to contain a bit of gauze soaked in vinegar, lavender water, or other scent. Sniffing the contents were meant to revive someone feeling faint or give relief from unpleasant odors. It might be kept inside a reticule or be equipped with a loop and hung about the wearer’s wrist or from a chatelaine. Vinaigrettes were made by silversmiths specializing in boxes so they usually also made snuffboxes. There were smiths in London who did this type of work, but most boxes were made in Birmingham.

Treat your friend to a Georgian style gift at our online shop – click here!

Reprinted with persmission Sharon Wagoner, Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical tour through Regency London!