79/1119 North Otago Museum. A sterling silver chatelaine

Old Friends

As the North Otago Museum, Forrester Gallery and Waitaki District Archive prepare for the Cultural Facility Redevelopment the front part of the museum building is being used as a working space. To ensure we are still sharing our collections with the community we have been blogging about our collection research. We have also taken the opportunity to exhibit some items at the Forrester Gallery. Old Friends: Costume Favourites from the North Otago Museum Collection is an exhibition of favourites from the costume collection selected by longstanding Museum volunteer Alison Sofield. The exhibition focuses on some of the beautiful Victorian and Edwardian costume accessories in our collection.

A beautiful miser’s purse was the inspiration for this show. Recently Alison was working on a project to review and improve the catalogue descriptions for the bags and purses in our collection. She came across a wonderful example of a miser’s purse that we just had to share. According to our records this beaded evening purse dates from the 1850s and belonged to Miss Kathleen Mitchell’s grandmother. It is likely that it was made in France. This style of purse was used to hold coins. For some ideas on why they are known as a miser’s purse and to see how they are used, click here. Make sure you visit the exhibition at the Forrester Gallery before it closes on January 29th to see our one.

Another highlight of the show is the beautiful sterling silver chatelaine, pictured above. A chatelaine is worn at the waist. It has a number of fine chains hanging from it and at the end of each chain is a useful item like a pair of scissors or a key. This example includes a tape measure, a flask, a pinwheel, a scissor holder and a thimble holder. The hallmarks show this was made at the very end of the Victorian era, between 1899 and 1901. We believe this chatelaine belonged to Catherine Hutchison nee Hale (circa 1859 -1922).

Old Friends: Costume Favourites From The North Otago Museum Collection is at the Forrester Gallery and closes January 29th, 2017.

Chloe Searle