One of the most popular necklaces around at the moment is the fob chain, that is, a chain that had its origins in the watch chains worn by males in the 18th and 19th centuries. It started out as a short 5 to 6 inch chain attached to a pocket watch which was carried in a small concealed pocket in a man’s breeches called a ‘fob’ pocket, with sometimes a watch key or seal attached to the other end of the chain. Gradually, the chain became longer as clothing styles changed. Men began to carry their watch in their waistcoat and the chain, which became longer, was attached to a buttonhole with a T-bar. This chain later became longer and ended up with the T-bar attached to a buttonhole and two similar lengths of chain coming from it, both with swivel hook clasps, one for the pocket watch, the other for seals, watch keys, etc.

The items that men attached to their ‘fob’ chains were pocket watches, watch keys, seals, good luck charms, membership badges, and novelty pieces like a compass. These attachments also became known as fobs

Miniature fob seal and watch key, carnelian ‘hope, faith and love’ charms

Today’s fob chains are chains of between 45 and 55 inches in length, ending with one or two swivel hooks and often a T-bar. They can be in gold or silver. The links of the chain can vary, although curb and fetter links are popular. Some of the fob chains are Victorian, others are vintage or modern.

So what do today’s fob chains have as attachment? There are still lots of antique fobs around, of different sizes and shapes, and there are modern reproductions as well. There are a lot of choice – maybe just a single locket on one day and on the next day a collection, which is often described as a ‘fob mess’.

Vinaigrette, two lockets and an agate compass

Depending on the thickness of the fob chain, there are small pendants that can be attached, like the following:

Eagle’s claw, miniature seal and two small pendants

Or you can choose larger pieces like the gold vinaigrette and the locket below. So many choices!

Antique French vinaigrette and locket, plus modern t-bar attached to a fob chain.