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Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Wade 1916.313.b
Stored inside this case are grooming and writing instruments such as a clasp knife, scissors, an ivory tablet, a pencil, a threading needle used for lacing corsets, and an ear scoop.
Luxurious personal objects were an essential part of a privileged wardrobe during the 1700s and early 1800s, emphasizing their owner’s refinement and wealth. Especially popular were étuis, small ornamented cases containing miniature sewing, writing, or grooming implements that hung at a woman’s waist from an ornate clasp, known as a chatelaine. Despite its glittering surface, this small expensive set disguised a system based on the labor and suffering of enslaved or indentured people, whether in gold and stone mines or the shop where it was made.
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