Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Vintage Mystery Accessory Revealed!
DING DING DING!
We have a winner, and thank you Karin, for your winning assessment. Belle, this was possibly worn on a sautoir, as you guessed, but more likely on a chatelaine (sautoir=an extra-long chain or necklace, suspended from the neck; chatelaine=a chain or belt suspended from the waist, intended to carry keys, sewing kits, and whatnot).
The whatnot in this instance is indeed a skirt-lifter. These were popular in Victorian times when ladies started ranging in a serious way. This hands-free device lifted long skirts for ease of ambulation up and down stairs, atop a bicycle, through muddy patches and weedy fields, etc. A fold of fabric would be caught between the pincers (in the case of this model the fingers and thumb), and a ratcheting mechanism would pull the device closed, presto, skirt hoiked.
Your ordinary skirt-lifter looks more like a rendering compass -- this is the first one I've seen shaped like an actual hand. While indeed a bit creepy, as Belle points out below, it is also quite cool.
For those of you who keep track of these things, today the term "skirt-lifter" means a man or woman who loves women, actively and from afar, while a "shirt-lifter" is one who loves men.
Many thanks again to Nicole, whose fine, fine skirt-lifter is selling (imminently!) on eBay here.