Gentlemens' Accouterments

Lorgnette or quizzing glass

quizzing glass

During the period of Louis XV, the lorgnette became an instrument for the close and unashamed observation of female beauty. Having originally been used for this purpose in the theatre it soon became popular in a variety of situations. (On this subject Mercier wrote an article entitled "Les Lorgneurs", published in the Tableau de Paris in 1793: "Paris is full of these lorgneurs, setting their eyes on you, fixing your person with a steady and immobile gaze. This behavior is so widespread that it is not even considered indecent anymore. Ladies are not offended when they are observed arriving at the theatre or whilst taking a walk. But should this happen when they are amongst themselves the lorgneur is considered uncouth and accused of insolence». The criticism becomes more severe in the chapter dedicated to the lorgnette:...they are quite an offence to fashion." Lorgnettes encircle hats, they are contained in fans and in all manner of strange objects. Even the snuff boxes of the era of the 18th and 19th centuries often contained small spyglasses. French fashions were soon followed in London. Beau Brummell popularized the quizzing glass in England and used a skeptical look through it at a gentlemen as a setdown.

Snuff box

French snuff box silver snuff box
A snuff box was a small, often decorated box with a hinged lid, used for carrying snuff. Snuff boxes were made by silver smiths who specialized in tightly closing boxes. Most English snuff boxes were made in Birmingham.

The snuff that the boxes held was a preparation of finely pulverized tobacco that could be inhaled into the nostrils a pinch at a time. Tobacco snuff is made by powdering tobacco leaf. Then grinding it in a mill and sieving to a fine powder. Various essential oils may be added for flavour, after which it is stored in airtight containers to allow the flavour to permeate the powder uniformly. Snuffs varied from moist to dry, and from coarse to fine (gros, demigros, and fin); and may be natural, or perfumed.

Some Types of Snuff
rappeea cheap locally milled British snuff
Princes a black snuff, reputedly created for the Prince Regent to avoid brown stains on his black coat
SP Probably meaning Spanish Prize named for a naval battle off the shore of a Spanish port, Vigo, in 1702 in which Admiral Sir George Rooke captured Spanish galleons included a prize of a large quantity of snuff which was subsequently sold in London.
Jockey Club fine ground moist tobacco snuff with a sweet scent

Snuff taking came to England around the seventeenth century although it had been known a little earlier in France and also in Scotland due to their contact with the French Court. A carved wooden figure of a Scots Highlander in full kilt stood before British shops selling snuff just as the Cigar Store Indian signaled a tobacco shop in North America. Taking snuff was a popular, widespread pastime among the upper class and middle class English by the 18th century. Fribourg & Treyer in the Haymarket was considered the best snuff purveyor.

Viscount Petersham, Charles Stanhope (1780-1851), a famous Regency dandy, had a snuffbox for each day of the year. Gronow relates in his memoirs that once when a light Sevres box which Viscount Petersham was using was admired by another gentleman, Lord Petersham lisped, "Yes, it is a nice summer box--but would certainly be inappropriate for winter wear!"

Pocket watch

pocket watch 1800 pocket watch movement

In 1675, Charles II of England introduced long waistcoats. This became the fashion, and men's watches were then worn in pockets of the waistcoat instead of pendant style from the neck.

In 1704, English watchmakers Facio de Duillier and P. and J. Debaufre developed methods for using jewels as bearings. By 1715, this practice was still rare. After about 1725 it was common to find a fairly large diamond endstone mounted in the time piece.

The commonest watches of the early 1700's had pair cases in gold or silver, both of which were plain. The gold cases of the period are 22 carat . Silver cases were rarely hallmarked before 1740, although gold hallmarks are fairly common. Dials were mainly champlevé, but were slowly replaced by white enamel dials with block numbers.

The earliest enamel dials were somewhat dull and pitted, but after 1725 they are smooth and polished. The markings on the face included bold Arabic numerals for the hours. Most of the minute markings had disappeared or made very small, and at 15-minute intervals. However, by the end of the eighteenth century the markings on the faces became much lighter and more elegant. The maker's name never appeared on the dials before 1750. By 1775, champlevé was rare. In English watches the hands were usually of the beetle and poker style, although the hour hand sometimes had a tulip pattern. The hands were usually made of black steel, although better class watches had blued hands. English watches had the hour and minute hand, whereas the continental watches of the same period tended to only have the hour hand. The watches were wound by opening a hinged back to reveal a second fixed bottom pierced with a winding hole to accommodate the key.

By 1800, the pocket chronometer was a readily available accurate watch. With the newer, more accurate escapements, other changes occurred to timepieces. A seconds hand was added to the watches. Jewelling was more extensively used, with some extremely large jewels being placed on the visible plate. Dials were usually of white enamel. Roman and Arabic numbers were both used, but Roman numerals were more common. After 1800 dials in four-color gold became popular. Stopwatches were first made in 1821. Pocket watches were all hand made works of art owned by only the wealthy until the 1840's when inexpensive machined parts became widely available.

Watch fobs and keys

watch fobseal watch keywatch key
Watch fobs might also be a seal or merely decorative. They hung from the watch chain. Dandies might wear large numbers of fobs. The watch key served the mechanical purpose of winding the watch but were also suspended from the watch chain and treated decoratively.

Calling card case

tortoiseshell and ivory calling card case

A calling card case was an absolute necessity. One couldn't be received without sending up one's card. Gentlemen put a great deal of thought into which lettering to have the card printed in and what sort of border it should have, but all Regency calling cards were printed on cream card stock. When leaving town one left cards with one's intimates with the letters PPC written on them meaning " pour prendre conge" French for " I'm leaving." When a man married he sent round cards to former acquaintances who were respectable enough to frequent his home. Anyone not receiving a card automatically understood their acquaintance to have been dropped.

Read more about Visiting Cards and Cases by Edwin Banfield.


 spirits flask

A flask of silver or silver chased glass containing spirits was frequently carried by gentlemen.


silver toothpick toothpick closed in case end view of tooth pick case

Silver toothpicks were commonly carried in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. They could be quite elaborate with a jewel on the end like the example shone here.

Jane Austen mentioned the toothpick in Sense and Sensibility. She used the behavior of Mr. Robert Ferrars while ordering a toothpick as a metaphor illustrating his character:

On ascending the stairs, the Miss Dashwoods found so many people before them in the room, that there was not a person at liberty to attend to their orders; and they were obliged to wait. All that could be done was, to sit down at the end of the counter which seemed to promise the quickest succession; one gentleman only was standing there, and it is probable that Eleanor was not without hopes of exciting his politeness to a quicker dispatch. But the correctness of his eye, and the delicacy of his taste, proved to be beyond his politeness. He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined, -- all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, -- he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies, than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares; a kind of notice which served to imprint on Eli nor the remembrance of a person and face of strong, natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in the first style of fashion...At last the affair was decided. The ivory, the gold, and the pearls, all received their appointment, and the gentleman having named the last day on which his existence could be continued without the possession of the toothpick-case, drew on his gloves with leisurely care, and bestowing another glance on the Miss Dashwoods, but such a one as seemed rather to demand than express admiration, walked off with an happy air of real conceit and affected indifference.
--Jane Austen Chapter 33 of Sense and Sensibility

Walking stick or cane

silver cane head

The word " cane" had not been applied to the fashionable walking stick up to the sixteenth century. During his period, however, the thick, jointed stems of tropical grasses known as bamboo and cane, and the reed-like stem of several species of palm and rattan were introduced for the stick. These were called " canes." From that day forth, the walking stick of the past merged into the cane of the future. Today the terms are used interchangeable, though the saying. " One strolls with a walking stick and swaggers with a Cane!" tend to give greater dignity to the former. (Source: Accessories of Dress by Katherine Morris Lester and Bess Viola Oerke, The Manual Arts Press, Peoria Illinois, pp 392.) A cane was an important accessory for a man from the late 17th century through the early 20th. A cane made of quality wood, with a silver or gold handle, told of wealth and importance. Cane shafts usually were made of wood such as ebony or rosewood or malacca.

Writing tablet and pencil

writing tablet and pencil in silver case

A small silver case containing a tablet and matching pencil was handy for jotting down appointments or the name of a hot tip at Newmarket. The case and pencil might be inlayed with dyed ivory or mother of pearl.

Line drawing, Lady with Tiara, logo
Top of Page
Georgian Index Home
Front Door

Ladies Accouterments

Site Map

©S.W. This site last updated March 2003 by the webmaster