c. 1910 12k Gold Retractable Chatelaine Brooch

c. 1910 12k Gold Retractable Chatelaine Brooch


Made during the end of the Edwardian period, this petit brooch was intended as an elegant approach to function. It was designed by a lead manufacturer of this kind of jewelry, Ketcham & McDougall, a company which patented their design around 1908. This particular style was produced as a blank slate on which one could inscribe their monogram, as was customary for many forms of accessories during that time. This piece has been left uninscribed, which today, gives it an air of simplicity and harkens to the tastes of minimalism.

The reverse is marked with the maker and patent dates, and has a spring bar stick pin with which to secure the device to the wearer. The brooch houses a retractable gold filled chain, the end of which features a hook on which to affix a mechanical pencil, ID badge, key ring, watch, stopwatch, eyeglasses or magnifying glass. The retractable function is in great working order, as the chain snaps quickly in and out with a very light tug. The end hook, itself, may be pinched to secure whatever is attached to it. In original advertisements for this product, it was described by the manufacturer as an “automatic eyeglass reel”

When this brooch was brand new over a hundred years ago, it would have been placed on breast of a bodice, on the side that coordinated with the wearer’s dominant hand. Today, the item is very handy and may be used to hold any number of attachments, and may be worn wherever desired. This gold adornment is clever and refined, offers practicality and purpose, and is a salute to minimalism and pragmatism.

  • Maker: Ketcham & McDougall (i.e. Ketchall); founded 1875; “manufacturers of thimbles, jewelry, and novelties”

  • Material: 12k gold wash over brass

  • Epoch: c. 1903-1910

  • Dimensions: 1” diameter x .1875” thick/deep

  • Procurement: Dallas, Texas

  • Origin: New York, New York

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